Daily Gospel 2012
Daily Scripture Readings and Commentaries

Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


July 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31

July 1 Sunday
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. Since he has created everything, all creatures of the universe are for our good; there is no deadly poison in them and the netherworld has no dominion over the earth, because immortal is not submitted to death. Indeed God created man to be immortal in the likeness of his own nature, but the envy of the devil brought death to the world, and those who take his side shall experience death.
►2nd Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
You excel in everything: in the gifts of faith, speech and knowledge; you feel concern for every cause and, besides, you are first in my heart. Excel also in this generous service. You know well the generosity of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Although he was rich, he made himself poor to make you rich through his poverty. I do not mean that others should be at ease and you burdened. Strive for equality; at present give from your abundance what they are short of, and in some way they also will give from their abundance what you lack. Then you will be equal and what Scripture says shall come true: To the one who had much, nothing was in excess; to the one who had little, nothing was lacking.
►Gospel: Mark 5:21-43 (or 21-24, 35-43)
Jesus then crossed to the other side of the lake and while he was still on the shore, a large crowd gathered around him. Jairus, an official of the synagogue, came up and seeing Jesus, threw himself at his feet and asked him earnestly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her so that she may get well and live." Jesus went with him and many people followed, pressing from every side. Among the crowd was a woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a lot at the hands of many doctors and had spent everything she had, but instead of getting better, she was worse. Since she had heard about Jesus, this woman came up behind him and touched his cloak thinking, "If I just touch his clothing, I shall get well." Her flow of blood dried up at once, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her complaint. But Jesus was conscious that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" His disciples answered, "You see how the people are crowding around you. Why do you ask who touched you?" But he kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, aware of what had happened, came forward trembling and afraid. She knelt before him and told him the whole truth. Then Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of this illness." While Jesus was still speaking, some people arrived from the official's house to inform him, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Master any further?" But Jesus ignored what they said and told the official, "Do not fear, just believe." And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house, Jesus saw a great commotion with people weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus entered and said to them, "Why all this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." They laughed at him. But Jesus sent them outside and went with the child's father and mother and his companions into the room where the child lay. Taking her by the hand, he said to her, "Talitha kumi!" which means: "Little girl, get up!" The girl got up at once and began to walk around. (She was twelve years old.) The parents were astonished, greatly astonished. Jesus strictly ordered them not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.
REFLECTION
Read • Mk 5:21-43: Jesus demonstrates his power over all evil. Two healing miracles are intertwined: the woman with the hemorrhage and the young girl.
Reflect:
• Faith can bring healing, as in the story of the woman with the hemorrhage. How does your faith help you in difficult circumstances?
Pray: • The healing of memories can be as important as physical healing. If you have bad memories (most if not all people do), they are evil and Jesus has power over them as well. Pray for the healing of your memories.
Act:
• Continue the ministry of Jesus by offering healing touch and healing conversations to someone in need.


July 2 Monday
13th Week in Ordinary Time First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

►1st Reading: Am 2:6–10, 13–16
Yahweh says this, "Because Israel has sinned, not once but three times and even more, I will not relent. They sell the just for money and the needy for a pair of sandals; they tread on the head of the poor and trample them upon the dust of the earth, while they silence the right of the afflicted; a man and his father go to the same woman to profane my holy name; they stretch out upon garments taken in pledge, beside every altar; they take the wine of those they swindle and are drunk in the house of their God. "It was I who destroyed the Amorites before them, whose height was like the height of the cedar, a people as sturdy as an oak. I destroyed their fruit above and their roots below. "It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness to take possession of the land of the Amorites. "Behold, I will crush you to the ground, as a cart does when it is full of sheaves. The swift shall be unable to flee and the strong man shall lose his strength. The warrior shall not save himself nor the bowman stand his ground. The swift of foot shall not escape nor the horseman save himself. Even the most stout-hearted among the warriors shall flee away naked on that day," says Yahweh.
►Gospel: Matthew 8:18-22
When he saw the crowd press around him, Jesus gave orders to cross to the other shore. A teacher of the Law approached him and said, "Master, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Another disciple said to him, "Lord, let me go and bury my father first." But Jesus answered him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."
REFLECTION

"Leave the dead to bury their dead." It sounds heartless. But we must not become too literal. Jesus spoke a poetic language. There is a sad history of unimaginative literal interpretation of the Scriptures. In this case, surely, the man's father was not dead, but perhaps elderly; and the man was asking if he could wait till after his father's death. No, said Jesus, come now. Postponement becomes a habit: after his father's death he would find another reason for delay, and another. Jesus is saying to us: if you want to be free, be free now!

July 3 Tuesday
Thomas, Apostle


►1st Reading: Eph 2:19–22
Now you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people: you are of the household of God. You are the house whose foundations are the apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In him the whole structure is joined together and rises to be a holy temple in the Lord. In him you too are being built to become the spiritual sanctuary of God.
►Gospel: John 20:24-29
Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he replied, "Until I have seen in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." Eight days later, the disciples were inside again and Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands; stretch out your hand and put it into my side. Resist no longer and be a believer." Thomas then said, "You are my Lord and my God." Jesus replied, "You believe because you see me, don't you? Happy are those who have not seen and believe."
REFLECTION

Like Thomas we are invited too to "put your finer here and see my hands; stretch out your hand and put it into my side." Most of us know the wounds of Christ firsthand. I talked with a woman who lives, you could say, in the side of Christ. Many have lived there, throughout the ages. "We are now dying with him on his cross, in his pains and passion," wrote Julian of Norwich in the 14th century, "and when we deliberately remain on that same cross, holding on to the very end, with his help and grace, then suddenly we shall see his expression change and we shall be with him in heaven. Without a moment's break we shall pass from one state to the other—and we shall all be brought into joy."

July 4 Wednesday
13th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Am 5:14–15, 21–24
Seek good and shun evil, that you may live. Then Yahweh, the God of hosts, as you have claimed, will be with you. Hate wickedness and love virtue, and let justice prevail in the courts; perhaps Yahweh, the God of hosts, will take pity on the remnant of Joseph. I hate, I reject your feasts, I take no pleasure when you assemble to offer me your burnt offerings. Your cereal offerings, I will not accept! Your offerings of fattened beasts, I will not look upon! Away with the noise of your chanting, away with your strumming on harps. But let justice run its course like water, and righteousness be like an ever-flowing river.
►Gospel: Matthew 8:28-34
When Jesus reached Gadara on the other side, he was met by two demoniacs who came out from the tombs. They were so fierce that no one dared to pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, "What do you want with us, you, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the time?" At some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding. So the demons begged him, "If you drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs." Jesus ordered them, "Go." So they left and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned. The men in charge of them ran off to the town, where they told the whole story, also what had happened to the men possessed with the demons. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their area.
REFLECTION
By the end of the story Jesus had rearranged everything: the demons have gone into the pigs, which in turn have gone into the water. Jews had a great fear of water – for them the sea was the abode of Leviathan, the monster of the deep – as it was appropriate that the pigs should end up there. Besides it also was fatal to demons so it was right that they should end up there. Thus, Jesus restores everything to its proper place, and establishes right order. But the other order could be said to be "right" too in a sense. The local people were happy with it. They begged Jesus to go away: he had upset the arrangement of the world. That makes me think: what are the arrangements in my life that seem "right" to me (at least in the sense of being familiar), but which are not right at all?

July 5 Thursday
13th Week in Ordinary Time Anthony Zaccaria

►1st Reading: Am 7:10-17
Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, then sent word to King Jeroboam of Israel, "Amos is conspiring against you in the very center of Israel; what he says goes too far. These are his very words: Jeroboam shall die by the sword and Israel shall be exiled from its land." Amaziah then said to Amos, "Off with you, seer, go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there by prophesying. But never again prophesy at Bethel for it is a king's sanctuary and a national shrine." Amos replied to Amaziah, "I am not a prophet or one of the fellow-prophets. I am a breeder of sheep and a dresser of sycamore trees. But Yahweh took me from shepherding the flock and said to me: Go, prophesy to my people Israel. Now hear the word of Yahweh, you who say: No more prophecy against Israel, no more insults against the family of Isaac! This is what Yahweh says: Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, your land shall be divided up and given to others, and you yourself shall die in a foreign land, for Israel shall be driven far from its land."
►Gospel: Matthew 9:1-8
Jesus got back into the boat, crossed the lake again, and came to his hometown. Here they brought a paralyzed man to him, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, "Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven." Then some teachers of the Law said to themselves, "This man insults God." Jesus was aware of what they were thinking, and said, "Why have you such evil thoughts? Which is easier to say: 'Your sins are forgiven' or 'Stand up and walk'? You must know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." He then said to the paralyzed man, "Stand up! Take your stretcher and go home." The man got up, and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were filled with awe and praised God for giving such power to human beings.
REFLECTION

Sicknesses of the soul can affect the body; we are psychosomatic beings (in Greek, psyche = soul and soma = body). We could go further and call ourselves 'pneumosomatic', inventing a new word. What is in our spirit (pneuma) affects the body. This might be a useful way to describe stigmata, etc.) However, we would not want to take such automatic readings as did those ancient Jews. It remains true, though, that sin cripples us in some sense. It dulls the spirit, hardens the heart, blinds the eye of the mind, limits the imagination, brutalizes the feelings…. We need to hear those words, "Get up and walk!"

July 6 Friday
13th Week in Ordinary Time Maria Goretti

►1st Reading: Am 8:4–6, 9–12
Hear this, you who trample on the needy to do away with the weak of the land. You who say, "When will the new moon or the sabbath feast be over that we may open the store and sell our grain? Let us lower the measure and raise the price; let us cheat and tamper with the scales, and even sell the refuse with the whole grain. We will buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals." Yahweh says, "On that day I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. "I will turn your festivals into mourning and all your singing into wailing. Everyone will mourn, covered with sackcloth and every head will be shaved. I will make them mourn as for an only son and bring their day to a bitter end." Yahweh says, "Days are coming when I will send famine upon the land, not hunger for bread or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of Yahweh. "Men will stagger from sea to sea, wander to and fro, from north to east, searching for the word of Yahweh, but they will not find it."
►Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus moved on from there, he saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and he said to him, "Follow me." And Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and other sinners joined Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, "Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?" When Jesus heard this he said, "Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."
REFLECTION

Eating with someone is no longer such a powerful symbol of unity: Today we are used to eating in fast food chains, where you could find yourself eating at table with perfect strangers. But in the Lord's time, to sit down to meal with someone was to say you were of one mind and heart with that person. We frequently surround the Gospel with such a pious atmosphere that its radical nature is hidden from us. Jesus came to call sinners. It is very hard really to learn that "the last shall be first and the first last."

July 7 Saturday
13th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Am 9:11–15
"On that day I shall restore the fallen hut of David and wall up its breaches and raise its ruined walls and so build it as in days of old. "They shall conquer the remnant of Edom and the neighboring nations upon which my name has been called." Thus says Yahweh, the one who will do this. Yahweh says also, "The days are coming when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes overtake the sower. The mountains shall drip sweet wine and all the hills shall melt. "I shall bring back the exiles of my people Israel; they will rebuild the desolate cities and dwell in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will have orchards and eat their fruit.  I shall plant them in their own country and they shall never again be rooted up from the land which I have given them," says Yahweh your God.
►Gospel: Matthew 9:14-17
The disciples of John came to him with the question, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not your disciples?" Jesus answered them, "How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast. "No one patches an old coat with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for the patch will shrink and tear an even bigger hole in the coat. Besides you don't put new wine in old wineskins. If you do, the wineskins will burst and the wine be spilt. No, you put new wine in fresh skins; then both are preserved." REFLECTION In the Lord's time there were no wine bottles, instead people stored wine in animal skins. When new wine was put in these skins, it was still fermenting and giving off carbon dioxide, but because the skin was new and therefore somewhat elastic, this was not a problem. With an old skin, however, it was a problem because the skin would burst and the wine would be lost. No one puts new wine in an old skin, said Jesus, using an image that was very familiar to everyone. In this passage the Lord is saying that we need to have a new mind if we are to receive the Gospel. It is a revolution, not an improvement.

July 8 Sunday
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Ezekiel 2:2-5
A spirit came upon me as he spoke and kept me standing and then I heard him speak, "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a people who have rebelled against me; they and their fathers have sinned against me to this day. Now I am sending you to these defiant and stubborn people to tell them 'this is the Lord Yahweh's word.' So, whether they listen or not this set of rebels will know there is a prophet among them.
►2nd Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
However, I better give up lest somebody think more of me than what is seen in me or heard from me. Lest I become proud after so many and extraordinary revelations, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a true messenger of Satan, to slap me in the face. Three times I prayed to the Lord that it leave me, but he answered, "My grace is enough for you; my great strength is revealed in weakness." Gladly, then, will I boast of my weakness that the strength of Christ may be mine. So I rejoice when I suffer infirmities, humiliations, want, persecutions: all for Christ! For when I am weak, then I am strong.
►Gospel: Mark 6:1-6
Jesus returned to his own country, and his disciples followed him. When the Sabbath came, he began teaching in the synagogue, and most of those who heard him were astonished. They commented, "How did this come to him? What kind of wisdom has been given to him that he also performs such miracles? Who is he but the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joset and Judas and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here among us?" So they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, "Prophets are despised only in their own country, among their relatives and in their own family." And he could work no miracles there, but only healed a few sick people by laying his hands on them. Jesus himself was astounded at their unbelief.
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 6:1–6 Jesus teaches in his hometown and his own people reject him.
Reflect:
• Prophets are often not accepted among their own people. Why? Sometimes, because they are concerned about the possible reactions of others, people do things they know to be wrong. Do you?
Pray:
• People should stand up for what they know to be right even if it involves the risk of being rejected. Pray for courage to live what you believe.
Act:
• If you are a leader, try to act out of conscience and not out of fear of other peoples' reactions.

July 9 Monday
14th Week in Ordinary Time
►1st Reading: Hos 2:16, 17c–18, 21–22
Thus says Yahweh: So I am going to allure her, lead her once more into the desert, where I can speak to her tenderly. Then I will give back her vineyards, make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will answer me as in her youth, as when she came out of the land of Egypt. On that day, Yahweh says, you will call me my husband, and never again: my Baal. You will be my spouse forever, betrothed in justice and integrity; we will be united in love and tenderness. I will espouse you in faithfulness and you will come to know Yahweh.
►Gospel: Matthew 9:18-26
While Jesus was speaking to them, an official of the synagogue came up to him, bowed before him and said, "My daughter has just died, but come and place your hands on her, and she will live." Jesus stood up and followed him with his disciples. Then a woman who had suffered from a severe bleeding for twelve years came up from behind and touched the edge of his cloak. For she thought, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." Jesus turned, saw her and said, "Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you." And from that moment the woman was cured. When Jesus arrived at the official's house and saw the flute players and the excited crowd, he said, "Get out of here! The girl is not dead. She is only sleeping!" And they laughed at him. But once the crowd had been turned out, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up. The news of this spread through the whole area.
REFLECTION

We can be ourselves, we can be spontaneous with our friends because we know how they will react; but we do not know how strangers might react so we play safe. The woman in the story wanted contact with Jesus, and at the same time she wanted the security of anonymity. So in the press of the crowd she touched the hem of his cloak; she wanted an anonymous cure. It is still very much with us today. There are many who go from one fad to another looking for healing: crystals, pyramids, pranotherapy, aura reading…. In such things there is no Who to touch you, no Son of God with fire of compassion in his eyes, who looks for you saying, "Who touched me?"

July 10 Tuesday
14th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Hos 8:4–7, 11–13
Thus says Yahweh: Without my approval they set up kings and without my blessing appointed leaders. With their silver and gold they fashioned idols to their own ruin. To me, Samaria, your calf is loathsome and my anger blazes against you. How long will you remain defiled? The calf is yours, Israel, a craftsman has made it; it is not God and will be broken into pieces. As they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind. Like the erect ear of corn they will bear no grain and produce no flour, or if they do, foreigners will devour it. Ephraim built many altars but his altars made him more guilty. I wrote out for him the numerous precepts of my Law, but they look on them as coming from foreigners. They offer sacrifices to me because they are those who eat the meat, but Yahweh does not accept their sacrifices for he is mindful of their sin and remembers their wickedness. They will return to Egypt.
►Gospel: Matthew 9:32-38
Some people brought to Jesus a man who was dumb because he was possessed by a demon. When the demon was driven out, the dumb man began to speak. The crowds were astonished and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." (But the Pharisees said, "He drives away demons with the help of the prince of demons.") Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and he cured every sickness and disease. When he saw the crowds he was moved with pity, for they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant but the workers are only few. Ask the master of the harvest to send workers to gather his harvest."
REFLECTION

A hard heart is able to prevent anything and everything from entering the mind; it is like a deadlock. It says that black is white and white black, and so it cuts you off from the truth. When you are cut off from the truth, what is left? Pure blind will alone. It is like switching off the headlights of your car and then driving fast in pitch darkness. Dangerous? Yes, very. There is nothing so dangerous as to close your eyes to the truth. Even if the truth is sometimes terrible, it is infinitely better to look at it than to close your eyes. You can learn something while your eyes (and your mind) are still open but with closed eyes, you hurl yourself to destruction, bringing others with you.

July 11 Wednesday
14th Week in Ordinary Time Benedict
►1st Reading: Hos 10:1–3, 7–8, 12
Israel was a spreading vine, rich in fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; the more his land prospered, the more he adorned his sacred stones. Their heart is divided! They shall pay for it. Their altars will be thrown down and their sacred stones broken to pieces. Now they say, "We have no king (because we have no fear of God) and what good would a king do us?" As for the king of Samaria, he has been carried off like foam on water. The idolatrous high places—the sin of Israel—will be destroyed. Thorn and thistle will creep over the altars. Then they will say to the mountains: "Cover us," and to the hills: "Fall on us." Plow new ground, sow for yourselves justice and reap the harvest of kindness. It is the time to go seeking Yahweh until he comes to rain salvation on you.
►Gospel: Matthew 10:1-7
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority over the unclean spirits to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon, the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray him. Jesus sent these twelve on mission with the instruction: "Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go instead to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. "Go and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near."
REFLECTION

When you look at the list of the "twelve disciples" you see twelve very ordinary men. There were many scribes in the country, men who were learned in the Law. But Jesus chose none of them. The Kingdom of God is open to all of us, not just to special people. He did not divide people into ordinary and special. He did not even distinguish between one thief and the other on the cross: the only one who criticized the bad thief was the good thief!

July 12 Thursday
14th Week in Ordinary Time
►1st Reading: Hos 11:1–4, 8e–9
I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I have called, the further have they gone from me—sacrificing to the Baals, burning incense to the idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet little did they realize that it was I who cared for them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as one who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them. How can I give you up, Ephraim? Can I abandon you like Admah or make you like Zeboiim? My heart is troubled within me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to my great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst and I do not want to come to you in anger.
►Gospel: Matthew 10:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples, "Go and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. You received this as a gift, so give it as a gift. Do not carry any gold, silver or copper in your purses. Do not carry a traveler's bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or walking-stick: workers deserve their living. "When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person and stay there until you leave. "As you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people in the house deserve it, your peace will be on them; if they do not deserve it, your blessing will come back to you. "And if you are not welcomed and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than it will for the people of that town."
REFLECTION

When Jesus sent out his disciples to the whole world "with no gold or silver, not even with a few coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff," he is clearly implying that the whole world is God's Temple and that all business and commercial interest have to be expelled from the soul when one becomes a messenger of the Gospel in the world. He chased the buyers and sellers out of the Temple. The commercial spirit is all right in its place but it should not enter your soul.

July 13 Friday
14th Week in Ordinary Time Henry

►1st Reading: Hos 14:2–10
Thus says Yahweh: Return to your God Yahweh, O Israel! Your sins have caused your downfall. Return to Yahweh with humble words. Say to him, "Oh you who show compassion to the fatherless forgive our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us: no longer shall we look for horses nor ever again shall we say 'Our gods' to the work of our hands." I will heal their wavering and love them with all my heart for my anger has turned from them. I shall be like dew to Israel like the lily will he blossom. Like a cedar he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar. They will dwell in my shade again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would Ephraim do with idols, when it is I who hear and make him prosper? I am like an evergreen cypress tree; all your fruitfulness comes from me. Who is wise enough to grasp all this? Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways of Yahweh: the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.
►Gospel: Matthew 10:16-23
Jesus said to his disciples, "Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves. Be on your guard with respect to people, for they will hand you over to their courts and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, and so you may witness to them and the pagans. "But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say and how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it is not you who will speak; but it will be the Spirit of your Father in you. "Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved. "When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. For sure, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes."
REFLECTION

We associate intelligence with the ability to plan. We are impressed by planning, even when the objective is silly. Many things in life require planning, but it can become a compulsive habit. If I feel I have to plan everything, it means that I do not trust myself to react correctly in some future situation. But what makes me think I can do it better now before the situation has even arisen? How should I know what to say to some people when I have not even seen them yet? Compulsive planning ensures that I will always live in the past, that I will never fully meet a new situation. Intelligence isn't an old hat; it is always new. We have to trust the intelligence that is in us; to distrust it is to undermine it.

July 14 Saturday
14th Week in Ordinary Time Bl. Kateri Tekawitha / Camillus de Lellis

►1st Reading: Is 6:1–8
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; the train of his robe filled the Temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: two to cover the face, two to cover the feet, and two to fly with. They were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh Sabaoth. All the earth is filled with his Glory!" At the sound of their voices the foundations of the threshold shook and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said, "Poor me! I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips, and yet I have seen the King, Yahweh Sabaoth." Then one of the seraphs flew to me; in his hands was a live coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven." Then I heard the voice of the Lord, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" I answered, "Here I am. Send me!"
►Gospel: Matthew 10:24-33
Jesus said to his apostles, "A student is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master. A student should be glad to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If the head of the family has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of the family! So, do not be afraid of them. "There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather be afraid of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. For only a few cents you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. So do not be afraid: you are worth much more than many sparrows. "Whoever acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Whoever rejects me before others I will reject before my Father in heaven."
REFLECTION
Weeds grow shamelessly and wherever they like. Along with the many good plants, there is a vigorous growth of weeds in the printed and electronic media: violence, pornography, partisanship with pressure groups, etc. The media have tremendous power: they can be police, judge, and jury all at once, though never elected or appointed by the public. This is a power for good or evil equally. Do not be afraid, the Gospel says; the truth of everything will appear sooner or later.

July 15 Sunday
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Amos 7:12-15
Amaziah then said to Amos, "Off with you, seer, go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there by prophesying. But never again prophesy at Bethel for it is a king's sanctuary and a national shrine." Amos replied to Amaziah, "I am not a prophet or one of the fellow-prophets. I am a breeder of sheep and a dresser of sycamore trees. But Yahweh took me from shepherding the flock and said to me: Go, prophesy to my people Israel." ►2nd Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14 (or 1:3-10)
Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, who in Christ has blessed us from heaven with every spiritual blessing. God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without sin in his presence. From eternity he destined us in love to be his sons and daughters through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling his free and generous will. This goal suited him: that his loving-kindness which he granted us in his Beloved might finally receive all glory and praise. For in Christ we obtain freedom, sealed by his blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this appears the greatness of his grace, which he lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us his mysterious design, in accordance with his loving-kindness in Christ. In him and under him God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth. By a decree of Him who disposes all things according to his own plan and decision we, the Jews, have been chosen and called and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of his glory. You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance as a people of God, for the praise of his glory. ►Gospel: Mark 6:7-13 Jesus called the Twelve to him and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over evil spirits. And he ordered them to take nothing for the journey except a staff; no food, no bag, no money in their belts. They were to wear sandals and were not to take an extra tunic. And he added, "In whatever house you are welcomed, stay there until you leave the place. If any place doesn't receive you and the people refuse to listen to you, leave after shaking the dust off your feet. It will be a testimony against them." So they set out to proclaim that this was the time to repent. They drove out many demons and healed many sick people by anointing them.
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 6:7–13 Jesus sends out the Twelve to continue his mission with specific instructions. They were able to do it with authority.
Reflect:
• Going to mission entails a lot of insecurity. The worst that can happen is to be rejected, even persecuted. But we have the greatest security in the fact that it is Jesus who commissioned us. What is your attitude towards the mission?
Pray:
• Remember the missionaries who offered their lives for the mission especially those assigned in difficult places.
Act:
• Are you involved in some form of ministry or apostolate? If not, try to volunteer to where God is sending you.

July 16 Monday
15th Week in Ordinary Time
Our Lady of Mount Carmel

►1st Reading: Is 1:10–17
Hear the warning of Yahweh, rulers of Sodom. Listen to the word of God, people of Gomorrah. "What do I care," says Yahweh "for your endless sacrifices? I am fed up with your burnt offerings, and the fat of your bulls. The blood of fatlings, and lambs and he-goats I abhor. "When you come before me and trample on my courts, who asked you to visit me? I am fed up with your oblations. I grow sick with your incense. Your New Moons, Sabbaths and meetings, evil with holy assemblies, I can no longer bear. "I hate your New Moons and appointed feasts they burden me. When you stretch out your hands I will close my eyes; the more you pray, the more I refuse to listen, for your hands are bloody. "Wash and make yourselves clean. Remove from my sight the evil of your deeds. Put an end to your wickedness and learn to do good. Seek justice and keep in line the abusers; give the fatherless their rights and defend the widow."
►Gospel: Matthew 10:34—11:1
Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father and daughter against her mother; a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies those of one's own family. "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me. One who wants to benefit from his life will lose it; one who loses his life for my sake will find it. "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. The one who welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man because he is a just man will receive the reward of a just man. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is a disciple of mine, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded." When Jesus had finished giving his twelve disciples these instructions, he went on from there to teach and to proclaim his message in their towns.
REFLECTION

This is one of those "terrible" passages of the New Testament. Why is the Prince of Peace telling us that he has not come to bring peace but the sword? Clearly, there are wrong kinds of peace – or rather situations that look peaceful on the outside but are full of injustice within. The Prince of Peace has not come to bless violence and oppression that have been so successful that the poor have no resistance left. There are people who crush life all around them and call it restoring peace. Look at public bodies and at business companies, certainly, but do not forget to look at your own family too! Why are your wife and children so quiet? Are they sinking into despair? Or have you a way of making your husband feel so bad that everything he might do or say is condemned even before he says or does it?

July 17 Tuesday
15th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Is 7:1–9
When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, laid siege to Jerusalem but they were unable to capture it. When the news reached the house of David, "Aram's troops are encamped in Ephraim," the heart of the king and the hearts of the people trembled as the trees of the forest tremble before the wind. Yahweh then said to Isaiah: "Go with your son A-remnant-will-return, and meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman's Field. Say to him, Stay calm and fear not; do not lose courage before these two stumps of smoldering fire brands—the fierce anger of Rezin the Aramean and the blazing fury of the son of Remaliah. You know that Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah's son have plotted against Judah, saying: Let us invade and scare it, let us seize it and put the son of Tabeel king over it. But the Lord Yahweh says: It shall not be so, it shall not come to pass. For Damascus is only the head of Aram and Rezin the lord of Damascus. Samaria is only the head of Ephraim and Remaliah's son is only the lord of Samaria. Within fifty-six years, Ephraim will be shattered and will no longer be a people. But if you do not stand firm in faith, you, too, will not stand at all.
►Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24
Jesus began to denounce the cities in which he had performed most of his miracles, because the people there did not change their ways, "Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon it will be more bearable on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had taken place in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."
REFLECTION

Picking ears of standing corn was not what the Pharisees had objected to, but the fact that it was done on the Sabbath. They considered this simple act of plucking a few heads of corn as a five-fold breach of the Law: reaping, threshing, winnowing, bearing a burden and preparing a meal! In a Zen monastery I once saw a piece of calligraphy that said, "If you break the law you will never attain freedom." Grim, but true, I thought. Then, underneath I saw written, "If you keep the law you will never attain freedom."

July 18 Wednesday
15th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Is 10:5–7, 13b–16
Thus says Yahweh: Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger, the staff of my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, against a people who provoke my wrath I dispatch him, to plunder and pillage, to tread them down like mud in the streets. But the mind of his king is far from this, his heart harbors other thoughts; what he wants is to destroy, to make an end of all nations. For the king says: "By my own strength I have done this and by my own wisdom, for I am clever. I have moved the frontiers of peoples, I have plundered treasures, I have brought inhabitants down to the dust, I have toppled kings from their thrones. "As one reaches into a nest, so my hands have reached into nations' wealth. As one gathers deserted eggs, so have I gathered the riches of the earth. No one flapped a wing or opened its mouth to chirp a protest." Does the axe claim more credit than the man who wields it? Does the saw magnify itself more than the one who uses it? This would be like a rod wielding the man who lifts it up; will those not made of wood, be controlled by the cudgel? Therefore the Lord, Yahweh Sabaoth, is ready to send a wasting sickness upon the king's sturdy warriors. Beneath his plenty, a flame will burn like a consuming fire.
►Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27
On one occasion Jesus said, "Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise you, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this is what pleased you. "Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
REFLECTION

The learned and the clever always have so much to say! I was once at a conference, the theme of which was "Enabling the Laity." The platform was shared by a priest and a layman. The priest spoke first, and the first thing he said was that he had a lot to say, and that he would need most of the available time. This he did, leaving the layman only fifteen minutes to rush through a mere fraction of his carefully prepared talk. Enabling the laity! That priest gave us a perfect example of how to disable the laity. How wonderful if there were an outbreak of silence in the Church!

July 19 Thursday
15th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Is 26:7–9, 12, 16–19
Let the righteous walk in righteousness. You make smooth the path of the just, and we only seek the way of your laws, O Yahweh. Your name and your memory are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; for you my spirit keeps vigil. When your judgments come to earth, the world's inhabitants learn to be upright. Yahweh, please give us peace; for all that we accomplish is your work. For they sought you in distress, they cried out to you in the time of their punishment. As a woman in travail moans and writhes in pain, so are we now in your presence. We conceived, we had labor pains, but we gave birth to the wind. We have not brought salvation to the land; the inhabitants of a new world have not been born. Your dead will live! Their corpses will rise! Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust! Let your dew fall, O Lord, like a dew of light, and the earth will throw out her dead.
►Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus spoke thus, "Come to me, all you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is good and my burden is light."
REFLECTION
"
My yoke is easy and my burden light." It is easy because it frees people from 'the yoke of slavery'. It is not that there is no burden, but as a Rabbi put it, "My burden has become my song." (He is no weight, he is my brother.) Countless Christians through the ages have borne heavy burdens but the chief characteristic of a Christian remains joy.

July 20 Friday
2nd Week in Ordinary Time
Fabian/Sebastian
►1st Reading: Is 38:1–6, 21–22, 7–8
In those days Hezekiah fell mortally ill and the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, went to him with a message from Yahweh, "Put your house in order for you shall die; you shall not live." Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to Yahweh, "Ah Yahweh! Remember how I have walked before you in truth and wholeheartedly, and done what is good in your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of Yahweh came to Isaiah, "Go and tell Hezekiah what Yahweh, the God of his father David, says: I have heard your prayer and I have seen your tears. See! I am adding fifteen years to your life and I will save you and this city from the power of the king of Assyria. I will defend it for my sake and for the sake of David my servant." Isaiah then said, "Bring a fig cake to rub on the ulcer and let Hezekiah be cured!" Hezekiah asked, "What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?" Isaiah answered, "This shall be for you a sign from Yahweh, that he will do what he has promised. See! I shall make the shadow descending on the stairway of Ahaz go back ten steps." So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had covered on the stairway.
►Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8
It happened that Jesus walked through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and began to pick some heads of wheat and crush them to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, "Look at your disciples; they are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!" Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He went into the house of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, although neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the Temple break the Sabbath rest, yet they are not guilty? "I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words: It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. "Besides the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
REFLECTION
Mercy! It could also be translated (as Luke does) as love. In its original context in Hosea, it meant the tender love that God has for Israel, like the love a husband has for his young wife. After Hosea, the word retained this meaning, and it must have been the meaning in Matthew's mind as he quoted it so frequently. It is in strong contrast with the harshness of the Pharisees. No doubt other phrases from Hosea often ran through his mind: I will betroth you to myself forever, betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love. (Hosea 2:19)

July 21 Saturday
15th Week in Ordinary Time
Lawrence of Brindisi

►1st Reading: Mic 2:1–5
Woe to those who plot wickedness and plan evil even on their beds! When morning comes they do it, as soon as it is within their reach. If they covet fields, they seize them. Do they like houses? They take them. They seize the owner and his household, both the man and his property. This is why Yahweh speaks, "I am plotting evil against this whole brood, from which your necks cannot escape. No more shall you walk with head held high for it will be an evil time." On that day they will sing a taunting song against you and a bitter lamentation will be heard, "We have been stripped of our property in our homeland. Who will free us from the wicked who allots our fields." Truly, no one will be found in the assembly of Yahweh to keep a field for you.
►Gospel: Matthew 12:14-21
The Pharisees went out and made plans to get rid of him. As Jesus was aware of the plot, he went away from that place. Many people followed him and he cured all who were sick. Then he gave them strict orders not to make him known. In this way Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled: "Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, and with whom I am pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him and he will announce my judgment to the nations. "He will not argue or shout, nor will his voice be heard in the streets. The bruised reed he will not crush, nor snuff out the smoldering wick. He will persist until justice is made victorious and in him all the nations will put their hope."
REFLECTION

We need not think that legalism gives up easily. It continually tries to make a comeback. What is the difference between the Pharisees measuring our tithes of "mint, dill, and cumin" (Mt 23:23) and Catholics up to the 1960s weighing food by the ounce on fast days? The difference is that we had no excuse. We had been hearing the Gospel all our lives, and we knew that it was the Pharisees' kind of religion that sent Jesus to death. When he has spoken the truth, there is nothing else he can do. Someone can shout at you, but understanding is a silent, subtle movement, like a bud opening in the mind. At a certain point there is nothing to do but wait. He gives us time to ripen

July 22 Sunday
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
"Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" This is the message of Yahweh, God of Israel, to the shepherds in charge of my people, "You have scattered my sheep and driven them away instead of caring for them. Now I will deal with you because of your evil deeds. "I will gather the remnant of my sheep from every land to which I have driven them and I will bring them back to the grasslands. They will be fruitful and increase in number. I will appoint shepherds who will take care of them. No longer will they fear or be terrified. No one will be lost." Yahweh further says, "The day is coming when I will raise up a king who is David's righteous successor. He will rule wisely and govern with justice and righteousness. That will be a grandiose era when Judah will enjoy peace and Israel will live in safety. He will be called Yahweh-our-justice!"
►2nd Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
In Christ Jesus and by his blood, you who were once far off have come near. For Christ is our peace, he who has made the two peoples one, destroying in his own flesh the wall-the hatred-which separated us. He abolished the Law with its commands and precepts. He made peace in uniting the two peoples in him, creating out of the two one New Man. He destroyed hatred and reconciled us both to God through the cross, making the two one body. He came to proclaim peace; peace to you who were far off, peace to the Jews who were near. Through him we-the two peoples-approach the Father in one Spirit.
►Gospel: Mark 6:30-34
The apostles returned and reported to Jesus all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, "Go off by yourselves to a remote place and have some rest." For there were so many people coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a secluded area by themselves. But people saw them leaving and many could guess where they were going. So, from all the towns they hurried there on foot, arriving ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore he saw a large crowd, and he had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began a long teaching session with them.
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 6:30–34 After a mission, the disciples return and together with Jesus they withdraw from the crowds to rest.
Reflect:
• Jesus' compassion extends from the people to his apostles and even to himself. Even in the important work of serving others, are we compassionate to ourselves by giving time for rest. Many get burnt out because they do not tap into the source of strength for all the service that we do.
Pray:
• Keeping a balance between action and contemplation is essential to a healthy spiritual life. Check your spiritual equilibrium.
Act:
• Take time to rest. Include in your rest some prayer. Do not try to do too much.

July 23 Monday
16th Week in Ordinary Time Bridget

►1st Reading: Mic 6:1–4, 6–8
Listen to what Yahweh said to me, "Stand up, let the mountains hear your claim, and the hills listen to your plea." Hear, O mountains, Yahweh's complaint! Foundations of the earth, pay attention! For Yahweh has a case against his people, and will argue it with Israel. "O my people, what have I done to you? In what way have I been a burden to you? Answer me. I brought you out of Egypt; I rescued you from the land of bondage; I sent Moses, Aaron and Miriam to lead you. "What shall I bring when I come to Yahweh and bow down before God the most high? Shall I come with burnt offerings, with sacrifices of yearling calves? Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams, with an overabundance of oil libations? Should I offer my firstborn for my sins, the fruit of my body for my wrongdoing? "You have been told, O man, what is good and what Yahweh requires of you: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
►Gospel: Matthew 12:38-42
Some teachers of the Law and some Pharisees spoke up, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you." Jesus answered them, "An evil and unfaithful people want a sign, but no sign will be given them except the sign of the prophet Jonah. In the same way that Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the monster fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the depths of the earth. "At the judgment, the people of Niniveh will rise with this generation and condemn it, because they reformed their lives at the preaching of Jonah, and here there is greater than Jonah. At the judgment, the Queen of the South will stand up and condemn you. She came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and here there is greater than Solomon."
REFLECTION

The people of Jesus' time were avid for 'signs and wonders'. Jesus is saying, "you are seeking a sign – I am God's sign!" These are words we need to hear again today. Like Jesus' contemporaries we look for signs and wonders: moving or bleeding statues, rosaries turning to gold…! But Jesus said that no sign would be given us but himself. It must be that we are inventing these things out of our own imaginations!

July 24 Tuesday
16th Week in Ordinary Time
►1st Reading: Mic 7:14–15, 18–20
Shepherd your people with your staff, shepherd the flock of your inheritance that dwells alone in the scrub, in the midst of a fertile land. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old, in the days when you went out of Egypt. Show us your wonders. Who is a god like you, who takes away guilt and pardons crime for the remnant of his inheritance? Who is like you whose anger does not last? For you delight in merciful forgiveness. Once again you will show us your loving kindness and trample on our wrongs, casting all our sins into the depths of the sea. Show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.
►Gospel: Matthew 12:46-50
While Jesus was still talking to the people, his mother and his brothers wanted to speak to him and they waited outside. So someone said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are just outside; they want to speak with you." Jesus answered, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Then he pointed to his disciples and said, "Look! Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is for me brother, sister, or mother."
REFLECTION
"I saw the God that rejoices that he is our Father. God rejoices that he is our Mother, and God rejoices that he is our true Spouse and that our soul is his beloved wife. And Christ rejoices that he is our Brother, and Jesus rejoices that he is our Savior. These are five high joys, as I understand in which he wishes that we rejoice, praising him, thanking him, loving him, endlessly blessing him. This fair lovely word 'mother; is so sweet and so kind in itself that it cannot truly be said of anyone not to anyone except of him [Jesus] and to him who is true Mother of life and of all. Thus wrote Julian of Norwich, the 14th century English anchoress.

July 25 Wednesday
16th Week in Ordinary Time
James, Apostle

►1st Reading: 2 Cor 4:7–15
However, we carry this treasure in vessels of clay, so that this all-surpassing power may not be seen as ours but as God's. Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without answer, but do not despair; persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed. At any moment we carry in our person the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us. For we, the living, are given up continually to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may appear in our mortal existence. And as death is at work in us, life comes to you. We have received the same spirit of faith referred to in Scripture that says: I believed and so I spoke. We also believe and so we speak. We know that He who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and bring us, with you, into his presence. Finally, everything is for your good, so that grace will come more abundantly upon you and great will be the thanksgiving for the glory of God.
►Gospel: Matthew 20:20-28
The mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down to ask a favor. Jesus said to her, "What do you want?" And she answered, "Here you have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at your right and one at your left, when you are in your kingdom." Jesus said to the brothers, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They answered, "We can." Jesus replied, "You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right or at my left is not for me to grant. That will be for those for whom the Father has prepared it." The other ten heard all this and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you; whoever wants to be more important in your group shall make himself your servant. And if you want to be first, make yourself the servant of all. "Be like the Son of Man who has come, not to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many."
REFLECTION
To listen is to make an empty space. But we are easily frightened by that. To make an empty space is to feel empty in some sense. It is to realize that the world goes on even when we stop working and fidgeting. It is to step back from one of the besetting flaws of today: activism. Activism is the laziness of the active person, just as passivity is the laziness of the passive person. The problem is that activism does not look like laziness at all; it look like a virtue, and our world praises it as if it were the supreme virtue. The parable tells us about the fruitfulness of the listening and receptive spirit.

July 26 Thursday
16th Week in Ordinary Time Joachim and Ann

►1st Reading: Jer 2:1–3, 7–8, 12–13
A word of Yahweh came to me, "Go and shout this in the hearing of Jerusalem. This is Yahweh's word: I remember your kindness as a youth, the love of your bridal days, when you followed me in the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to Yahweh, the first-fruits of his harvest. "All who ate of it had to pay and misfortune fell on them—it is Yahweh who speaks. I brought you to a fertile land to eat of the choicest fruit. As soon as you came you defiled my land and dishonored my heritage! The priests did not ask, 'Where is Yahweh?' "The masters of my teaching did not know me; the pastors of my people betrayed me; the prophets followed worthless idols and spoke in the name of Baal. "Be aghast at that, O heavens! Shudder, be utterly appalled—it is Yahweh who speaks—for my people have done two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, to dig for themselves leaking cisterns that hold no water!"
►Gospel: Matthew 13:10-17
Jesus' disciples came to him with the question, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has, will be given more and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has. That is why I speak to them in parables, because they look and do not see; they hear, but they do not listen or understand. "In them the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled: Much as you hear, you do not understand; much as you see, you do not perceive. "For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back and I would heal them. "But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears, because they hear. "For I tell you that many prophets and upright people would have longed to see the things you see, but they did not, and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear it."
REFLECTION

A parable is like a slow-release capsule: you swallow it and it releases its contents gradually into your system. You can remember a parable or a story even though you do not understand its deeper meaning. Then weeks or perhaps years later, it delivers its contents. Straight teaching without parables is like medicine in tablet or liquid form: it delivers its load immediately whether you are ready for it or not. Jesus told these immortal stories that we call parables, so that his word would not die in the air but reach your heart on the very day your heart is ready. They are like light that has traveled for 2,000 years from that wondrous Source and lights up your life today.

July 27 Friday
16th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Jer 3:14–17
Come back, faithless people – it is Yahweh who speaks – for I am your master. I will select one from a city and two from a family and bring you to Zion. Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and prudence. And when you have increased and multiplied in the land in those days – it is Yahweh who speaks – people will no longer speak of the ark of the covenant of Yahweh; it will not be remembered or missed, nor shall it be made again! Then they will call Jerusalem 'The Throne of Yahweh' and all the nations will gather there to honor the name of Yahweh and no longer will they follow the stubbornness of their wicked hearts.
►Gospel: Matthew 13:18-23
Jesus said to his disciples, "Now listen to the parable of the sower. "When a person hears the message of the Kingdom but without taking it to himself, the devil comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed that fell along the footpath. "The seed that fell on rocky ground stands for the one who hears the word and accepts it at once with joy. But this is fickle and has no roots. No sooner is he harassed or persecuted because of the word, than he gives up. "The seed that fell among the thistles is the one who hears the word, but then the worries of this life and the love of money choke the word, and it does not bear fruit. "As for the seed that fell on good soil it is the one who hears the word and understands it; this bears fruit and produces a hundred, or sixty, or thirty times more."
REFLECTION

Much of our preaching and practice today is explanation. It is well to remember that the word means 'flattening out'; it comes from the Latin planus, flat. But life itself is at least three-dimensional! Explanation is always a second-hand thing. It reduces the original in some drastic way. Quite often, in our attempts to make the Faith more comprehensible, we use a language that has nothing to do with the original experience of faith. We use the language of politics, or economics, or insurance policies… or even mechanics. We need to recover the language of religious experience. But first (or concomitantly) we need to recover religious experience itself.

July 28 Saturday
16th Week in Ordinary Time
►1st Reading: Jer 7:1–11
These words were spoken by  Yahweh, to Jeremiah, "Stand at the gate of Yahweh's house and proclaim this in a loud voice: Listen to what Yahweh says, all you people of Judah (who enter these gates to worship Yahweh). Yahweh the God of Israel says this: Amend your ways and your deeds and I will stay with you in this place. Rely not on empty words such as: 'Look, the Temple of Yahweh! the Temple of Yahweh! This is the Temple of Yahweh!' It is far better for you to amend your ways and act justly with all. Do not abuse the stranger, orphan or widow or shed innocent blood in this place or follow false gods to your own ruin. Then I will stay with you in this place, in the land I gave to your ancestors in times past and forever. But you trust in deceptive and useless words. You steal, kill, take the wife of your neighbor; you swear falsely, worship Baal and follow foreign gods who are not yours. Then, after doing all these horrible things, you come and stand before me in this temple that bears my Name and say, 'Now we are safe.' Is this house on which rests my Name a den of thieves? I have seen this myself – it is Yahweh who speaks.
►Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30
Jesus told his disciples another parable, "The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and left. "When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then the servants of the owner came to him and said: 'Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?' "He answered them: 'This is the work of an enemy.' They asked him: 'Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?' He told them: 'No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them just grow together until harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the workers: Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'"
REFLECTION

The weed in the parable was darnel, a plant that has a resemblance to wheat. Evil takes care to look like good. If everything evil looked evil, our life would have wonderful clarity, but alas! It isn't so! Our world today pays incredibly detailed attention to mage: it is the age of the image, almost to the point of discarding substance. The parable summons us to careful discernment.

July 29 Sunday
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: 2 Kings 4:42-44
A man came from Baal-shalishad bringing bread and wheat to the man of God. These were from the first part of the harvest, twenty loaves of barley and wheat. Elisha told him, "Give the loaves to these men that they may eat." His servant said to him, "How am I to divide these loaves among one hundred men?" Elisha insisted, "Give them to the men that they may eat, for Yahweh says: They shall eat and have some left over." So the man set it before them; and they ate and had some left, as Yahweh had said.
►2nd Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you the unity of Spirit through bonds of peace. Let there be one body and one spirit, for God, in calling you, gave the same Spirit to all. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God, the Father of all, who is above all and works through all and is in all.
►Gospel: John 6:1-15
Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed him because of the miraculous signs they saw when he healed the sick. So he went up into the hills and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Then lifting up his eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to him and said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?" He said this to test Philip, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece." Then one of Jesus' disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." There was plenty of grass there so the people, about five thousand men, sat down to rest. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish and gave them as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten enough, he told his disciples, "Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is with pieces of the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw this sign that Jesus had just given, they said, "This is really the Prophet, he who is to come into the world." Jesus realized that they would come and take him by force to make him king; so he fled to the hills by himself.
REFLECTION

Read
• John 6:1–15 Jesus feeds the crowds. unclean spirits.
Reflect:
• Jesus is concerned not only for the spiritual needs of his followers but also their physical and psychological needs. When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish, he did not only feed the peoples physical hunger but their need to be concern for one another and sense of community as well. Does our apostolate satisfy all aspects of living life fully as children of God?
Pray:
• Pray for those who are suffering that people may unite to address this problem as one community.
Act:
The celebration of the Eucharist always includes hearing some teaching of Jesus. Listen carefully to the Read •ing and see how it can apply to your daily life.

July 30 Monday
17th Week in Ordinary Time
Peter Chrysologus

►1st Reading: Jer 13:1–11
This is what Yahweh said to me: "Go! Buy yourself a linen belt and put it around your waist; do not put it in water." So I bought the belt as Yahweh ordered and put it around my waist. The word of Yahweh came to me a second time, "Take the belt you bought, the one you put around your waist, and go to the torrent Perah; hide it there in a hole in the rock." I went and hid it as Yahweh instructed me. After many days Yahweh said to me, "Go to the torrent Perah and get the belt I ordered you to hide there." I went to the torrent and dug up the belt but it was ruined and good for nothing, and Yahweh said to me, "In this way I will destroy the pride and great glory of Judah, this wicked people who refuse to heed what I say, this stubborn people who go after other gods to serve and worship them. And they shall become like this belt which is now good for nothing. For just as a belt is to be bound around a man's waist so was the people of Israel and Judah bound to me—it is Yahweh who speaks—to be my people, my glory and my honor; but they would not listen.
►Gospel: Matthew 13:31-35
Jesus put another parable before the crowds, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, that a man took and sowed in his field. "It is smaller than all other seeds, but once it has fully grown, it is bigger than any garden plant; like a tree, the birds come and rest in its branches." He told them another parable, "The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast that a woman took and buried in three measures of flour until the whole mass of dough began to rise." Jesus taught all this to the crowds by means of parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So what the Prophet had said was fulfilled: I will speak in parables. I will proclaim things kept secret since the beginning of the world.
REFLECTION

What have seeds, yeast, and salt have in common? The Lord used them as images. They disappear into the ground, or into the lump of dough, or into food, they are scattered and they lose themselves. But what use would it be if they stayed in the bag and never gave themselves away? The Lord used these images to speak to us about discipleship, about following him. What else do they have in common? They are all given to us. They pour themselves out for us, to be our food or to make our food a joy to eat. Not only the Lord but nature itself is prompting us to give ourselves away, to pour out our lives, to live for others.

July 31 Tuesday
17th Week in Ordinary Time
Ignatius of Loyola

►1st Reading: Jer 14:17–22
This you will say to them: Let my eyes shed tears night and day without ceasing! For with a great wound has the virgin daughter of my people been wounded, a most grievous wound. If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword. If I enter the city I see the ravages of famine. For the prophet and the priest did not understand what was happening in the land. Have you then rejected Judah forever? Do you abhor Zion? Why have you wounded us and left us with no hope of recovery? We hoped for salvation but received nothing good; we waited for healing, but terror came! Yahweh, we know our wickedness and that of our ancestors, and the times we have sinned against you. For your name's sake do not despise us; do not dishonor the throne of your glory. Remember us. Do not break your covenant with us! Among the worthless idols of the nations, are there any who can bring rain, or make the skies send showers? Only in you, Yahweh our God, do we hope, for it is you who do all this.
►Gospel: Matthew 13:36-43
Jesus sent the crowds away and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He answered them, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the Kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows them is the devil; the harvest is the end of time and the workers are the angels. "Just as the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown in the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear."
REFLECTION

Throughout his gospel Matthew is much concerned with what you might call the ultimate scenario, the Final Judgment. His explanation extends this parable to that ultimate scenario. The early Church had a problem accepting the presence of sinners in it. But there always were, there still are, and there will always be sinners in the Church, until the end of time. It is not an elitist club for perfect people. It is a welcoming home for all of God's battered and broken children.


 

August 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

August 1 Wednesday
17th Week in Ordinary Time
Alphonsus Liguori

►1st Reading: Jer 15:10, 16–21
Woe is me, Mother, why did you bring me to the light? A man of dissension throughout the land! I owe them nothing, neither do they owe me, yet they all curse me! I devoured your words when they came. They were my happiness and I felt full of joy when you made your Name rest on me. Never did I associate with worldly people, amusing myself with scoffers! When your hand was upon me I stood apart and you filled me with your anger. Why is there no end to my sorrow or healing for my wound? Why do you deceive me, and why does my spring suddenly dry up? Then Yahweh spoke to me, "If you return I will take you back and you will serve me again. Draw the gold from the dross and you will be as my own mouth. You must draw them to you and not go over to them. I will make you a fortress and a wall of bronze facing them; if they fight against you they will not overcome you; I am with you to free you and save you. I will redeem you from the wicked and free you from the hands of tyrants."
►Gospel: Matthew 13:44-46
Jesus said to the crowds, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. The one who finds it buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field. "Again the kingdom of heaven is like a trader who is looking for fine pearls. Once he has found a pearl of exceptional quality, he goes away, sells everything he has and buys it." REFLECTION
The best way to see to the heart of Jesus' parables is to try to write one of your own. What is the Kingdom of God lie? It is like a game of chess. A man begins to play it who is accustomed to the game of draughts, where the winner is the one who succeeds in removing most of the opponent's pieces from the board. In chess, he discovers with a shock that he has lost the game though he still retains most of his pieces. If he has lost his king he has lost the game, no matter how many pawns or rooks or knights still stand proudly before him.


August 2 Thursday
17th Week in Ordinary Time
Eusebius of Vercelli / Peter Julian Eymard

►1st Reading: Jer 18:1–6
This is the word of Yahweh that came to Jeremiah: "Go down to the potter's house and there you will hear what I have to say." So I went to the potter's house and found him working at the wheel. But the pot he was working on was spoiled in his hands, so he reworked it all over again into another pot that suits his desire. Meanwhile Yahweh sent me his word, "People of Israel, can I not do with you what this potter does? As clay in the potter's hand so are you in my hands."
►Gospel: Matthew 13:47-53
Jesus said to the crowds, "The kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish in buckets, but throw the worthless ones away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just and throw them into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth." Jesus asked, "Have you understood all these things?" "Yes," they answered. So he said to them, "You will see that every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple of the Kingdom is like a householder who can produce from his store things both new and old." When Jesus had finished these parables, he left the place.
REFLECTION

Peter, James, and John, the three disciples closest to Jesus were all fishermen. There must be some meaning in that. What are the strengths of a fisherman? 1) He is patient. He is able to wait… and wait and wait. 2) He has a sense of timing. It is useless to move at the wrong time, and essential to move instantly when the right time comes. 3) He has a lot of courage. The sea is dangerous and has committed many treacheries; lakes and rivers have their dangers too, however peaceful they may seem. Every disciple of Jesus, and everyone who wants to do good in the world, has something to learn from fishermen.

August 3 Friday
17th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Jer 26:1–9
At the beginning of the reign of Judah's king Jehoiakim son of Josiah, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah: Yahweh says this, "Stand in the courtyard of Yahweh's House and say to all who come from the towns of Judah to worship in Yahweh's house—all that I command you to say; do not omit anything! Perhaps they will listen to you. Perhaps each one will turn from his wicked ways. Then I will change my mind and forget the destruction that I have planned to inflict on them because of their wicked deeds. Tell them: This is what Yahweh says: "You have not obeyed me and you have failed to walk according to my Law which I have set before you. You have not heeded my servants, the prophets, whom I have persistently sent to you. If you stubbornly close your ears to them, I will treat this House of mine as I treated the sanctuary of Shiloh and let all the nations see that Jerusalem is a cursed city." The priests, the prophets and all the people heard what Jeremiah said in Yahweh's House. When Jeremiah finished saying all that Yahweh had commanded, he was besieged by the priests and prophets saying, "You are bound to die! How dare you speak in Yahweh's Name telling us that this House will be treated like Shiloh and this city is to become a deserted ruin." And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the House of Yahweh.
►Gospel: Matthew 13:54-58
Jesus went to his hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, "Where did he get this wisdom and these special powers? Isn't he the carpenter's son? Isn't Mary his mother and aren't James, Joseph, Simon and Judas his brothers? Aren't all his sisters living here? How did he get all this?" And so they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family." And he did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
REFLECTION

In our homes especially (like Nazareth), we have the subtle power of preventing miracles. We do not believe enough in one another, for a start. Or rather we believe a lot of negative small-minded things; we remember every mistake the others ever made; in knowing one another too well we may not know one another at all. And then we do not believe enough in Christ's liberating power.

August 4 Saturday
17th Week in Ordinary Time
John Vianney

►1st Reading: Jer 26:11–16, 24
Then the priests and the prophets said to the leaders of the people: "This man must die for he has spoken against the city as you have heard with your own ears!" Jeremiah replied, "I have been sent by Yahweh to prophesy against this House and this city all that you have heard. Hence, reform your ways and your deeds and obey Yahweh your God that he may change his mind and not bring upon you the destruction he had intended. "As for me I am in your hands; do with me whatever you consider just and right. But know that I am innocent and if you take my life you commit a crime that is a curse on yourselves, on the city and the people. In truth it was Yahweh who sent me to say all that I said in your hearing." Then the leaders, backed by the people, said to the priests and the prophets, "This man does not deserve death; he spoke to us in the Name of Yahweh." As for Jeremiah he was befriended by Ahikam, son of Shaphan, and was not handed over to those who wanted him put to death.
►Gospel: Matthew 14:1-12
On one occasion the news about Jesus reached King Herod. And he said to his servants, "This man is John the Baptist. John has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him." Herod had, in fact, ordered that John be arrested, bound in chains and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had said to him, "It is not right for you to have her as wife." Herod wanted to kill him but he did not dare, because he feared the people who regarded John as a prophet. On Herod's birthday the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst of the guests; she so delighted Herod that he promised under oath to give her anything she asked. The girl, following the advice of her mother, said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a dish." The king was very displeased, but because he had made this promise under oath in the presence of the guests, he ordered it to be given her. So he had John beheaded in prison and his head brought on a dish and given to the girl. The girl then took it to her mother. Then John's disciples came to take his body and bury it. And they went to bring the news to Jesus.
REFLECTION

Herod was a weak man, but all the more cruel for that. Rather than face his own falsity he killed the man who pointed it out to him. Still, inside every bad conscience there is a scrap of good conscience. Otherwise we would not suffer from bad conscience. To know a bad conscience as bad is surely good. Herod died in exile from his kingdom in the company of Herodias. They had ruined each other's lives. No one knows if their bad consciences grew still worse, ruining each other to the very end. Who cares? We all do because, we will all be exiled form our kingdom sooner or later—our power over others, our power to make decisions, even our power over many aspects of our own lives—but the drama of conscience will not end; it will continue to our last breath.

August 5 Sunday
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Ex 16:2–4, 12–15
In the desert the whole community of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron and said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of Yahweh in Egypt when we sat down to caldrons of meat and ate all the bread we wanted, whereas you have brought us to this desert to let the whole assembly die of starvation!" Yahweh then said to Moses, "Now I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to gather what is needed for that day. In this way I will test them to see if they will follow my Teaching or not. "I have heard the complaints of Israel. Speak to them and say: Between the two evenings you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have bread to your heart's content; then you shall know that I am Yahweh, your God!" In the evening quails came up and covered the camp. And in the morning, dew had fallen around the camp. When the dew lifted, there was on the surface of the desert a thin crust like hoarfrost. The people of Israel upon seeing it said to one another, "What is it?" for they didn't know what it was. Moses told them, "It is the bread that Yahweh has given you to eat."
►2nd Reading: Eph 4:17, 20–24
I say to you, then, and with insistence I advise you in the Lord: do not imitate the pagans who live an aimless kind of life. But it is not for this that you have followed Christ. For I suppose that you heard of him and received his teaching which is seen in Jesus himself. You must give up your former way of living, the old self, whose deceitful desires bring selfdestruction. Renew yourselves spiritually, from inside, and put on the new self, or self according to God, that is created in true righteousness and holiness.
►Gospel: Jn 6:24–35
When they saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Master, when did you come here?" Jesus answered, "Truly, I say to you, you look for me, not because you have seen through the signs, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for he is the one the Father has marked." Then the Jews asked him, "What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?" And Jesus answered them, "The work God wants is this: that you believe in the One whom God has sent." They then said, "Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe you. What sign do you perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says: They were given bread from heaven to eat." Jesus then said to them, "Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. The bread God gives is the One who comes from heaven and gives life to the world." And they said to him, "Give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty.
REFLECTION

Read
• John 6:24–35 Jesus feeds the crowds. People see the sign and express their belief that Jesus is a prophet, but they mistakenly want to make him king. If you want to do the work of God, believe in Jesus and accept his offer of food for eternal life.
Reflect: • Did the Jews misunderstand the meaning of "messiah"? Did they want a political messiah? Is Jesus the presence of the divine in human form?
Pray: • Pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear God's word, the people from whom Jesus and his earliest followers came.
Act: • Feed the hungry people in your neighbourhood not only with food but the Word of God.

August 6 Monday
Transfiguration of the Lord

►1st Reading: Dn 7:9–10, 13–14
I looked and saw the following: Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took his seat. His robe was white as snow, his hair white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before him. Thousands upon thousands served him and a countless multitude stood before him. Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision: One like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into his presence. Dominion, honor and kingship were given him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; his kingdom will never be destroyed.
►2nd Reading: 2 P 1:16–19
Beloved: We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, "This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
►Gospel: Luke 9:28-36
Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became dazzling white. Two men were talking with Jesus: Moses and Elijah. They had just appeared in heavenly glory and were telling him about his departure that had to take place in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had fallen asleep, but they awoke suddenly and saw Jesus' Glory and the two men standing with him. As Moses and Elijah were about to leave, Peter said to him, "Master, how good it is for us to be here for we can make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." For Peter didn't know what to say. And no sooner had he spoken than a cloud appeared and covered them; and the disciples were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then these words came from the cloud, "This is my Son, my Chosen one, listen to him." And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was there alone. The disciples kept this to themselves at the time, telling no one of anything they had seen.
REFLECTION
When you have everything except meaning, you have nothing to live or die for; and that, far from being a perfect world, is an unendurable one. See how a person's face brightens when he or she sees the meaning of something, even if it is only the meaning of a joke, or a puzzle. Imagine what it must be like to know the meaning of life itself! (We all say we do, but we do not really). We would be transfigured.

August 7 Tuesday
18th Week in Ordinary Time
Sixtus II and Companions / Cajetan

►1st Reading: Jer 30:1–2, 12–15, 18–22
This is another word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh: Yahweh, God of Israel says, "Write in a book all that I have communicated to you, Yahweh says, "Your wound is incurable, your injury is grievous. There is no one to plead your cause. There is a remedy for an ulcer but no healing for you! All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. For I struck you as an enemy does, with a cruel punishment, because of your great guilt and the wickedness of your sin. Why cry out now that you are hurt? Is there no cure for your pain? Because of your great crime and grievous sin I have done this to you. Yahweh says, "I will restore my people into Jacob's tents and have pity on his dwellings. The city will be rebuilt over its ruins and the palace restored on its proper place. From them will come songs of praise and the sound of merrymaking. I will multiply them and they shall not be few. I will bestow honor on them and they shall not be despised. Their children will be as before and their community will be established before me. I will ask their oppressors to account. Their leader will be one of themselves, their ruler shall emerge from their midst. I will bring him close to me for who would dare to approach me? You shall be my people and I shall be your God."
►Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36
After the crowd had eaten their fill, Jesus obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. At nightfall, he was there alone. Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves for the wind was against it. At daybreak, Jesus came to them walking on the lake. When they saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once Jesus said to them, "Courage! Don't be afraid. It's me!" Peter answered, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you walking on the water." Jesus said to him, "Come." And Peter got out of the boat, walking on the water to go to Jesus. But, in face of the strong wind, he was afraid and began to sink. So he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and took hold of him, saying, "Man of little faith, why did you doubt?" As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God!" They came ashore at Gennesareth. The local people recognized Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought all the sick to him, begging him to let them touch just the fringe of his cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.
REFLECTION
The strange incident of walking on water is full of symbolic meaning. It signified the power over evil and death. For Jews it had all sorts of resonance in the Scriptures: god "trampled the waves of the sea" (Job 9:8); "alone… I have walked in the depths of the abyss (Sir 24:5). It is a hint of his identity with God. Why do we remember all these strange stories? Because there is still evil and death in the world, and storms, and panic, and people whose lives are heading for the rocks. And Jesus is still Lord!

August 8 Wednesday
18th Week in Ordinary Time Dominic

►1st Reading: Jer 31:1–7
Yahweh declares that when that time comes he will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be his people. Thus says Yahweh: The people who survived the sword have found grace in the desert. As Israel was seeking for his rest Yahweh appeared from afar saying, I have loved you with a love everlasting, so I have kept for you my mercy. I will restore you again, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin Israel! You will take up your tambourines and go out dancing joyfully. You will plant vineyards again on the hills of Samaria, and the farmers who plant them will enjoy their fruit. There shall be a day when watchmen will call out on the hills of Ephraim, "Come, let us go to Zion, to Yahweh our God!" For Yahweh says this: Shout with joy for Jacob; rejoice for the greatest of nations. Proclaim your praise and say: "Yahweh has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!"
►Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Now a Canaanite woman came from those borders and began to cry out, "Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon." But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So his disciples approached him and said, "Send her away: see how she is shouting after us." Then Jesus said to her, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel." But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus and said, "Sir, help me!" Jesus answered, "It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to the little dogs." The woman replied, "It is true, sir, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master's table." Then Jesus said, "Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish." And her daughter was healed at that moment.
REFLECTION

In theory, the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, belonged to Israel. Under Joshua the land was divided: the tribe of Asher was given the land "as far as Sidon the Great" and to "the fortress city of Tyre" (Joshua 19:28f). But they had never been able to subdue these cities and take possession of the surrounding territory. But where Joshua and his armies failed, another Joshua (which is the Hebrew for 'Jesus') conquered with love.

August 9 Thursday
18th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Jer 31:31–34
The time is coming—it is Yahweh who speaks—when I will forge a new covenant with the people of Israel and the people of Judah. It will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. For they broke my covenant although I was their Lord. This is the covenant I shall make with Israel after that time: I will put my Law within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God and they will be my people. And they will not have to teach each other, neighbor or brother, saying: "Know the Lord," because they will all know me, from the greatest to the lowliest, for I will forgive their wrongdoing and no longer remember their sin."
►Gospel: Matthew 16:13-23
Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They said, "For some of them you are John the Baptist, for others Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Jesus asked them, "But you, who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. "And now I say to you: You are Peter (or Rock) and on this rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven." Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. From that day Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem; he would suffer many things from the Jewish authorities, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. He would be killed and be raised on the third day. Then Peter took him aside and began to reproach him, "Never, Lord! No, this must never happen to you." But Jesus turned to him and said, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path. You are thinking not as God does, but as people do."
REFLECTION

In verse 23, Jesus is telling Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!" Peter was no longer speaking with the voice of God, but with the voice of the devil. How quickly his standing changed! That was Peter, whose name means "Rock." If you think you are rock solid, this reading seems to tell us, just wait a bit! You are a frail human being like Peter, like everyone. But Jesus never gave up on Peter. Nor will he, we are certain, on you or me.

August 10 Friday
18th Week in Ordinary Time
Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

►1st Reading: 2 Cor 9:6–10
Remember: the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you have enough of everything at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work. Scripture says: He distributed, he gave to the poor, his good works last forever. God who provides the sower with seed will also provide him with the bread he eats. He will multiply the seed for you and also increase the interests of your good works.
►Gospel: John 12:24-26
Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. "Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world keep it for everlasting life. "Whoever wants to serve me, let him follow me and wherever I am, there shall my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him."
REFLECTION

We see Jesus in another foreign territory: the Decapolis. Unlike yesterday's, today's is a "hands-on" healing. They asked Jesus to "lay his hands on him." However, Jesus did more than that; in fact, he seemed to go the opposite extreme! Again, what are we to make of this? Jesus appears to be measuring himself and searching for his style. Does it upset one's image of him? That might be a good thing. But it need not upset one's faith. If in his youth he had to "grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man" (Lk 2:52), why should he not have to continue to grow throughout his life?

August 11 Saturday
18th Week in Ordinary Time Clare

►1st Reading: Hab 1:12 – 2:4
But you, are you not Yahweh from past ages? You, my holy God, you cannot die. You have set this people to serve your justice and you have made them firm as a rock to fulfill your punishment. I don't look with favor on the one who gives way; the upright, on the other hand, will live by his faithfulness."
►Gospel: Matthew 17:14-20
A man approached Jesus, knelt before him and said, "Sir, have pity on my son who is an epileptic and is in a wretched state. He has often fallen into the fire and at other times into the water. I brought him to your disciples but they could not heal him." Jesus replied, "You, faithless and evil people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy, and the boy was immediately healed. The disciples then gathered around Jesus and asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive out the spirit?" Jesus said to them, "Because you have little faith. I say to you: if only you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell that mountain to move from here to there, and the mountain would obey. Nothing would be impossible to you."
REFLECTION
St. Lawrence was martyred in Rome in 258 during the persecution under the Roman emperor Valerian. He was among the seven deacons serving Pope St. Sixtus II, who was martyred three days before Lawrence. When he was challenged to hand over the Church's treasure to the authorities, he asked for a few days' grace; then "he went all over the city, seeking out in every street the poor who were supported by the Church, and with whom no other was so well acquainted. On the third day, he gathered together a great number of them before the church and placed them in rows: the decrepit, the blind, the lame, the maimed, the lepers, orphans and widows; then he went to the prefect, invited him to come and see the treasure of the Church." Many conversions to Christianity throughout Rome reportedly followed after Lawrence's death, including those of several senators witnessing his execution on a gridiron.

August 12 Sunday
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: 1 K 19:4–8
Elijah disappeared into the desert going on a day's journey. Then he sat down under a broom tree and prayed to die, "That is enough, Yahweh, take away my life for I am dying." He lay down and went to sleep under the broom tree. Then an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." Elijah looked and saw, at his head, a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. He ate and drank and went back to sleep. The angel of Yahweh came a second time to him, saying, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too long for you." He got up, ate and drank, and on the strength of that food, he traveled for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
►2nd Reading: Eph 4:30—5:2
Do not sadden the Holy Spirit of God which you were marked with. It will be your distinctive mark on the day of salvation. Do away with all quarreling, rage, anger, insults and every kind of malice: be good and understanding, mutually forgiving one another as God forgave you in Christ. As most beloved children of God, strive to imitate him. Follow the way of love, the example of Christ who loved you. He gave himself up for us and became the offering and sacrificial victim whose fragrance rises to God.
►Gospel: Jn 6:41–51
The Jews murmured because Jesus had said, "I am the bread which comes from heaven." And they said, "This man is the son of Joseph, isn't he? We know his father and mother. How can he say that he has come from heaven?" Jesus answered them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets: They shall all be taught by God. So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to me. "For no one has seen the Father except the One who comes from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. "I am the bread of life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the bread which comes from heaven so that you may eat of it and not die. "I am the living bread which has come from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh and I will give it for the life of the world."

REFLECTION

Read
• John 6:41–51: In his teachings Jesus gives guidance for ordinary life. He follows the Jewish tradition from the Wisdom books of the Old Testament. Jesus goes beyond the references to Exodus. His teachings will give life.
Reflect:
• Too often Read •ers think immediately of the Eucharist when Read •ing this section of the gospel. Think rather of the teachings of Jesus that give eternal life when people respond in faith. Christianity is a good way to live, for it offers helps in daily life.
Pray:
• In your prayer, ask the Lord to give you guidance for daily living. Pray in the morning for help in living your faith during that particular day.
Act:
• Let the New Testament be a guide to you. Pick one of the gospels and read it from start to end. See what the word of God is saying to you.

August 13 Monday
19th Week in Ordinary Time
Pontian and Hippolytus

►1st Reading: Ezk 1:2–5, 24–28c
On the fifth of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiakin) the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, son of Buzi, the priest, in the land of the Chaldeans by the banks of the Kebar. There the hand of Yahweh was upon me. I looked: a windstorm came from the north bringing a great cloud. A fiery light inside it lit up all around it, while at the center there was something like a glowing metal. In the center were what appeared to be four creatures with the same form. I heard the noise of their wings when they moved, similar to the roar of many waters, similar to the voice of the Most High, the noise of a multitude or of a camp. When they were not moving they lowered their wings. I heard a noise above the platform over their heads. Above it was a throne resembling a sapphire and high on this throne was a figure similar to that of a man. Then I saw a light as of glowing bronze as if fire enveloped him from his waist upwards. And from his waist downwards it was as if fire gave radiance around him. The surrounding light was like a rainbow in the clouds after a day of rain. This vision was the likeness of Yahweh's Glory.
►Gospel: Matthew 17:22-27
While Jesus was in Galilee with the Twelve, he said to them, "The Son of Man will be delivered into human hands, and they will kill him. But he will rise on the third day." The Twelve were deeply grieved. On returning to Capernaum, the Temple tax collectors came to Peter and asked him, "Does your master pay the temple tax?" He answered, "Certainly." Peter then entered the house, but immediately Jesus asked him, "What do you think, Simon? Who pay taxes or tributes to the kings of the earth: their sons or the other people?" Peter replied, "The others." And Jesus told him, "The sons, then, are tax-free. But so as not to offend these people, go to the sea, throw in a hook and open the mouth of the first fish you catch. You will find a coin in it, take it and let it pay for you and for me."
REFLECTION

There is so much Christian literature on suffering. Blessed Henry Suso, a 14th century Dominican shares this reflection: "…But now I must cheerfully begin a new and strange song of praise that I have never known before, since it has now been revealed to me by suffering. It is this: I wish… that all the pain and suffering that I ever knew, and all the painful grief of all hearts, the pain of all wounds, the groans of all the sick, the piteous sighs of all sad souls, the tears of all weeping eyes, the wrongs suffered by all oppressed persons… all the hidden and open pain and sorrow, which I or any other downcast sufferer ever underwent… that all these may become one song of eternal praise, heavenly Father; an everlasting glory to your Son, from eternity to eternity." Only someone who has known great joy can find God also in sorrow.

August 14 Tuesday
19th Week in Ordinary Time
Maximilian Mary Kolbe

►1st Reading: Ezk 2:8–3:4
Yahweh said to me, listen then, son of man, to what I say and don't be a rebel among rebels. Open your mouth and take in what I'm about to say." I looked and saw a hand stretched out in front of me holding a scroll. He unrolled it before me; on both sides were written lamentations, groanings and woes. He said to me, "Son of man, eat what is given to you. Eat this scroll and then go; speak to the people of Israel." I opened my mouth and he made me eat the scroll and then he said to me, "Eat and fill yourself with this scroll that I'm giving you." I ate it and it tasted as sweet as honey. He said, "Son of man, go to the Israelites; speak to them with my words."
►Gospel: Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
The disciples came to Jesus and asked him, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, "I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes lowly like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child in my name receives me. "See that you do not despise any of these little ones, for I tell you: their angels in heaven continually see the face of my heavenly Father. "What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, won't he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you: when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it than about the ninety-nine that did not get lost. It is the same with your Father in heaven: there they don't want even one of these little ones to be lost."
REFLECTION

These days, we glorify and romanticize childhood in a way that suggests a lack of meaning and direction in adult life rather than any wise appreciation of childhood. Jesus said that we must become as children if we are to enter the Kingdom (Mt 18:3). The child, like the disciple, is one who learns; the child, like the disciple, is one who considers himself or herself the least of all. Perhaps children have this over adults that they do not have anything much to unlearn or anything much to undo.

August 15 Wednesday
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

►1st Reading: Rev 11:19; 12:1–6, 10ab*
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain, looking to her time of delivery. Then another sign appeared: a huge, red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and wearing seven crowns on its heads. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour the child as soon as it was born. She gave birth to a male child, the one who is to rule all the nations with an iron scepter; then her child was seized and taken up to God and to his throne while the woman fled to the desert where God had prepared a place for her; Then I heard a loud voice from heaven: Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of his anointed. For our brothers' accuser has been cast out, who accused them night and day, before God.
►2nd Reading: 1 Cor 15:20–27
Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for "he subjected everything under his feet."
►Gospel: Luke 1:39-56
Mary then set out for a town in the Hills of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with holy spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, "You are most blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord's word would come true!" And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my savior! He has looked upon his servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is his Name! From age to age his mercy extends to those who live in his presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He held out his hand to Israel, his servant, for he remembered his mercy, even as he promised our fathers, Abraham and his descendants forever." Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home.
REFLECTION

Someone said that the Magnificat is the only truly revolutionary document in history: all the rest is just a changing of places. "Hurrah for revolution and cannon-shot! A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again! The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on." W. B. Yeats

August 16 Thursday
19th Week in Ordinary Time
Stephen of Hungary

►1st Reading: Ezk 12:1–12*
This word of Yahweh came to me, "Son of man, you live in the midst of a house of rebels: they have eyes for seeing but do not see. Because of this, prepare for yourself an exile's baggage in their sight as an exile does; and go as an exile to another place in their sight." "You will gather your things, an exile's baggage, by day to be seen by them, and you will leave in the evening as for a departure of deportees. While they look on, dig a hole in the wall and leave from there. Veil your face and do not look at the land for I have made you a sign for Israel." In the morning the word of Yahweh came to me: "Son of man, did not the Israelites, these rebels, ask you, 'What are you doing there?' Answer them on behalf of Yahweh: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the Israelites remaining in the city. "Say, 'I am a sign for you,' for what I have done will happen to them: They will be deported, exiled. The prince among them shall shoulder his baggage in the dark and depart. They will dig a hole in the wall to let him leave by it. He will cover his face because he must not see the land with his eyes.
►Gospel: Matthew 18:21—19:1
Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?" Jesus answered, "No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A king decided to settle the accounts of his servants. Among the first was one who owed him ten thousand gold ingots. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, children and all his goods in payment. The official threw himself at the feet of the king and said, 'Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.' The king took pity on him and not only set him free but even canceled his debt. This official then left the king's presence and he met one of his companions who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the neck and almost strangled him, shouting, 'Pay me what you owe!' His companion threw himself at his feet and asked him, 'Give me time, and I will pay everything.' The other did not agree, but sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt. His companions saw what happened. They were indignant and so they went and reported everything to their lord. Then the lord summoned his official and said, 'Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed when you begged me to do so. Weren't you bound to have pity on your companion as I had pity on you?' The lord was now angry, so he handed his servant over to be punished, until he had paid his whole debt." Jesus added, "So will my heavenly Father do with you unless each of you sincerely forgive your brother or sister." When Jesus had finished this teaching, he left Galilee and arrived at the border of Judea, on the other side of the Jordan River.
REFLECTION

If we have the blessed gift of forgetfulness, let us not criticize ourselves for it. A naturally forgetful person cannot bear a grudge for long, as King Darius knew when he commissioned a slave to shout in his ear three times a day: "Sire remember the Athenians!" But can we simply choose to forget? There is a difference between simple recollection and a willful harboring of resentment. But we can choose not to nurse and feed our resentments; then they may eventually die of malnutrition.

August 17 Friday
19th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Ezk 16:1–15, 60, 63
The word of Yahweh came to  me in these terms, "Son of man, make known to Jerusalem its sins. You say on my behalf: Your beginning was in Canaan; there you were born. Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, you were not bathed in water to make you clean, you were not rubbed with salt nor were you wrapped in cloth. There was no one to look with pity on you or compassionate enough to give you any of these attentions. You were left exposed in the open fields because you were looked upon with disgust on the day you were born. But I passed by and saw you immersed in your blood. I said to you in the midst of your blood, "Live!" I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and became tall and were becoming of marriageable age. Your breasts were formed and your hair had grown but you were naked and exposed. I passed by later and saw you were at the age of love and spread part of my garment over you to cover your nudity. I made a covenant with you with an oath – word of Yahweh – and you were mine. Then I bathed you in water, I cleansed you of your blood and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and put soft leather sandals on your feet. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with jewelry, putting bracelets on your arms, a necklace around your neck and a ring in your nose. I gave you earrings and a magnificent crown for your head. You were adorned with gold and silver; your clothing was fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You were fed on finest flour, honey and oil; you became very beautiful and rose to be queen. Your beauty was perfect and your renown spread through the nations, because of the splendor I had given you – word of Yahweh. But you relied on your beauty; you trusted in your fame and you began to give yourself to every passerby like a prostitute. But I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth and make in your favor an eternal covenant so that you may remember, be ashamed and never open your mouth again because of your humiliation, when I have pardoned you for all you have done," word of Yahweh.
►Gospel: Matthew 19:3-12
Some Pharisees approached Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked, "Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?" Jesus replied, "Have you not read that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and he said: Man has now to leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body? So they are no longer two but one body; let no one separate what God has joined." They asked him, "Then, why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?" Jesus replied, "Moses knew your stubborn heart, so he allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not so in the beginning. Therefore I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, unless it be for concubinage, and marries another, commits adultery." The disciples said, "If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry." Jesus said to them, "Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift. Some are born incapable of marriage. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it."
REFLECTION

As in many other instances, Jesus cut through all the laws and interpretations of the Pharisees; he even went back beyond the law of Moses, the Torah, to the ideal or the principle of marriage. He refused to enter the debate at the level of laws and their interpretation. He went back to Adam and Even, the original union. That was the state of innocence, when adultery and divorce and remarriage were not even imaginable (because there was no one else!).

August 18 Saturday
19th Week in Ordinary Time
Jane Frances de Chantal

►1st Reading: Ezk 18:1–10, 13b, 30–32
The word of Yahweh came to me in these terms, "Why are you applying this proverb to the land of Israel: 'The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge?' As I live, word of Yahweh, this proverb will no longer be quoted in Israel. All life is in my hands, the life of the parent and the life of the child are mine. The lives of both are in my hands, so the one who sins will die. Imagine a man who is righteous and practices what is just and right. He does not eat in the mountain shrines, or look towards the filthy idols of Israel, does not defile his neighbor's wife, or have intercourse with a woman during her period; he molests no one, pays what he owes, does not steal, gives food to the hungry and clothes to the naked, demands no interest on a loan and doesn't lend for interest, refrains from injustice, practices true justice, man to man, follows my decrees and obeys my laws in acting loyally. Because such a man is truly righteous, he will live, word of Yahweh. But perhaps this man has a son who steals and sheds blood, committing crimes which his father never did. Will such a man live? No, he will not! Because he has committed all these abominations he will die: his guilt will fall upon him. That is why I will judge you, Israel, each one according to his ways, word of Yahweh. Come back, turn away from your offenses, that you may not deserve punishment. Free yourselves from all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, Israel? I do not want the death of anyone, word of Yahweh, but that you be converted and live!"
►Gospel: Matthew 19:13-15
Little children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them with a prayer. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. Jesus then said, "Let them be! Do not stop the children from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to people such as these." So Jesus laid his hands on them and went his way.
REFLECTION

"The children of today are just too soft, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect for their elders, they talk too much and work too little. Rather than help out around the house, they give everybody orders. They have not even the courtesy to stand up when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, monopolize the conversation in front of guests, have miserable table manners, a slouchy posture and they tyrannize their teachers." This text is a proof that human nature does not change all that much down the ages: neither in children nor in parents. It was written by Plato about 500 years before Christ!

August 19 Sunday
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Pro 9:1–6
Wisdom has built her house set upon seven pillars; she has slaughtered her beasts, prepared her wine and laid her table. Next, she sent her servants to call from the central square of the city, "Pass by here, you who are fools." To the senseless she says, "Come, eat and drink of the bread and wine I have prepared. Give up your foolishness and you will live; take the straight path of discernment." ►2nd Reading: Eph 5:15–20
Pay attention to how you behave. Do not live as the unwise do, but as responsible persons. Try to make good use of the present time, because these days are evil. So do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk: wine leads to levity; but be filled with the Holy Spirit. Gather together to pray with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and celebrate the Lord in your heart, giving thanks to God the Father in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, always and for everything.
►Gospel: Jn 6:51–58
Jesus said to the crowds, "I am the living bread which has come from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh and I will give it for the life of the world." The Jews were arguing among themselves, "How can this man give us flesh to eat?" So Jesus replied, "Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood live with eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. My flesh is really food and my blood is drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood, live in me and I in them. Just as the Father, who is life, sent me and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats me will have life from me. This is the bread which came from heaven; unlike that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this bread will live forever."
REFLECTION

Read
• John 6:51–58: The change in language indicates that the author is writing about the Eucharist. This gospel has no reference to the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Eucharist brings eternal life.
Reflect:
• What does the Eucharist mean to you? How is this passage related to the previous passage?
Pray:
• Pray to grow in understanding and appreciation of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Act:
• Visit a church and pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

August 20 Monday
20th Week in Ordinary Time
Bernard

►1st Reading: Ezk 24:15–23
The word of Yahweh came to me in these terms, "Son of man, I am about to suddenly take from you the delight of your eyes, but you are not to lament or weep or let your tears flow. Groan in silence and do not mourn for the dead; wear your turban, put on your sandals, do not cover your beard or eat the customary food of mourners." I spoke to the people in the morning and my wife died that evening. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. Then the people said to me: "Explain to us the meaning of your actions." I said to them, "The word of Yahweh came to me in these terms: Say to Israel: I am about to profane my sanctuary, your pride, the delight of your eyes for which you long. The sons and daughters you left behind will also fall by the sword, but you will do as I have done: you will not cover your beard or eat the customary food of mourners; you will keep your turbans on your heads and sandals on your feet. You will not lament or weep. Instead, because of your sin, you will waste away and groan among yourselves."
►Gospel: Matthew 19:16-22
A young man approached Jesus and asked, "Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?" Jesus answered, "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Only one is Good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments." The young man said, "Which commandments?" Jesus replied, "Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him, "I have kept all these commandments, what is still lacking?" Jesus answered, "If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you possess and give the money to the poor and you will become the owner of a treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow me." On hearing this answer, the young man went away sad for he was a man of great wealth.
REFLECTION

This rich young man is the only one in the New Testament who was called by Christ but did not follow. Matthew says that he was young, and Luke says that he was a ruler, but all the Gospels tell us that he was rich. No more is heard of him; he disappears completely from the record. We hear much about Judas (more, in fact, than about many of the Twelve), and we even see attempts to rehabilitate him; but we hear nothing more about the rich young man. Wealth has a way of silently stifling one's life.

August 21 Tuesday
20th Week in Ordinary Time
Pius X

►1st Reading: Ezk 28:1–10
The word of Yahweh came to me in these terms, "Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre: You are very proud and self-satisfied: 'I am a god, I sit like a god in the heart of the sea.' Yet you are man and not a god; would you hold yourself as wise as God? "You consider yourself wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you. Your wisdom and know-how have earned you a fortune, gold and silver flowed to your treasury. Clever in trade, you became wealthy and as your fortune increased, your heart became prouder. "But now Yahweh has spoken to you, to the one who is like God: I am bringing foreigners against you, the most feared of all the nations. Their sword will challenge your wisdom and debase your refined culture. They will bring you down to the pit and you will die in the depths of the sea. Will you be able to say 'I am a god' when your murderers are killing you? "You are a man and not a god. You will die the death of the uncircumcised and perish at the hands of aliens, for I have spoken—word of Yahweh."
►Gospel: Matthew 19:23-30
Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I say to you: it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, believe me: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven." On hearing this the disciples were astonished and said, "Who, then, can be saved?" Jesus looked steadily at them and answered, "For humans it is impossible, but for God all things are possible." Then Peter spoke up and said, "You see we have given up everything to follow you: what will be our lot?" Jesus answered, "You who have followed me, listen to my words: on the Day of Renewal, when the Son of Man sits on his throne in glory, you, too, will sit on twelve thrones to rule the twelve tribes of Israel. As for those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or property for my Name's sake, they will receive a hundredfold and be given eternal life. Many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first."
REFLECTION

When someone leaves his or her wealth in order to follow Christ we call that "religious poverty." When someone gives up the freedom to have a family we call that "celibacy." By putting them in one sentence, Jesus is telling us that celibacy is a form of poverty. It is a form of poverty that really pinches. Be nice to a poor man or a poor woman today!

August 22 Wednesday
Queenship of Mary


►1st Reading: Ezk 34:1–11*
Say to the shepherds on my behalf: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! You have not taken care of the flock, you have not strengthened the weak, cared for the sick or bandaged the injured. You have not gone after the sheep that strayed or searched for the one that was lost. Instead you ruled them harshly and were their oppressors. My sheep wander over the mountains and high hills; and when they are scattered throughout the land, no one bothers about them or looks for them. Hear then shepherds, what Yahweh says: As I live—word of Yahweh,—because my sheep have been the prey of wild animals and become their food for want of shepherds, because you shepherds have not bothered about them but fed yourselves and not the flocks, because of that, hear the word of Yahweh. This is what Yahweh says: I will ask an account of the shepherds and reclaim my sheep from them. No longer shall they tend my flock; nor shall there be shepherds who feed themselves. I shall save the flock from their mouths and no longer shall it be food for them. I myself will care for my sheep and watch over them.
►Gospel: Mt 20:1–16*
Jesus said to his disciples, "This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the workers a salary of a silver coin for the day, and sent them to his vineyard. "He went out again at about nine in the morning, and seeing others idle in the square, he said to them: 'You, too, go to my vineyard and I will pay you what is just.' So they went. "The owner went out at midday and again at three in the afternoon, and he did the same. Finally he went out at the last working hour—it was the eleventh—and he saw others standing there. The master said: 'Go and work in my vineyard.' "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager: 'Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' Those who had come to work at the eleventh hour turned up and were given a denarius each (a silver coin). When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received a denarius each. So, on receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner. "They said: 'These last hardly worked an hour, yet you have treated them the same as us who have endured the day's burden and heat.' The owner said to one of them: 'Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on a denarius a day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Don't I have the right to do as I please with my money? Why are you envious when I am kind?' "So will it be: the last will be first, the first will be last."
REFLECTION

God does not pay by the hour, nor even by job lot. Sometimes we seem to be getting no pay at all, while others are rolling in rewards without appearing to have done anything to deserve them. Is there no justice with God? When we have thoughts like this we do well to remember that if God were really just in the ordinary sense, there would be no hope for any of us. "If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord who would survive?" (Ps 129:3)

August 23 Thursday
20th Week in Ordinary Time
Rose of Lima

►1st Reading: Ezk 36:23–28
Thus says Yahweh: I will make known the holiness of my great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am Yahweh when I show them my holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land. Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean—cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I shall put my spirit within you and move you to follow my decrees and keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be my people and I will be your God.
►Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus began to address the chief priests and elders of the people, once more using parables: "This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A king celebrated the wedding of his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the wedding feast, but the guests refused to come. "Again he sent other servants ordering them to say to the invited guests: 'I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now everything is ready; come then, to the wedding feast.' But they paid no attention and went away, some to their fields, and others to their work. While the rest seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them. "The king became angry. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his servants: 'The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go, then, to the crossroads and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.' "The servants went out at once into the streets and gathered everyone they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. "The king came in to see those who were at table, and he noticed a man not wearing the festal garment. So he said to him: 'Friend, how did you get in without the wedding garment?' But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants: 'Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the dark where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "Know that many are called, but few are chosen."
REFLECTION

In the 14th century, Johann Tauler (a disciple of Meister Eckhart) noted: Jesus did not ask you to take up his cross, but to take up your cross! This simple statement has been a source of insight and support for me for many years. My cross will not look at all like the cross of Christ! It will look more like me! We are our own crosses. To carry ourselves along, with all our fears and compulsions and our laziness: that alone could make most days a Good Friday! Add to it all the people we lend a hand to, or a shoulder…

August 24 Friday
Bartholomew, Apostle


►1st Reading: Rev 21:9–14
Then one of the seven angels came to me, one of those with the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues. And he said, "Come, I am going to show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." He took me up in a spiritual vision to a very high mountain and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shines with the glory of God, like a precious jewel with the color of crystal-clear jasper. Its wall, large and high, has twelve gates; stationed at them are twelve angels. Over the gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates face the east; three gates face the north; three gates face the south and three face the west. The city wall stands on twelve foundation stones on which are written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
►Gospel: John 1:45-51
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets as well: he is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." Nathanael replied, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, "Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him." Nathanael asked him, "How do you know me?" And Jesus said to him, "Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you." Nathanael answered, "Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" But Jesus replied, "You believe because I said: 'I saw you under the fig tree.' But you will see greater things than that. "Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
REFLECTION

Eating is both an animal and a human function: our animal nature is drawn up into a higher form of life where it is not destroyed but given a deeper and wider meaning. The still more extraordinary thing is that human life in turn is drawn up into a still higher form of life: the supernatural. Again, it is not destroyed by being so raised, rather it is enriched and deepened, in such a way that the simplest things (like eating) can become symbols of the most sublime. Jesus compared the Kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast, and in the Eucharist everything we believe about God and Christ and our life's destiny is expressed in the form of a shared meal. It is common knowledge that a meal prepared by someone who loves you is different from a meal prepared without love.

August 25 Saturday
20th Week in Ordinary Time
Louis of France / Joseph Calasanz

►1st Reading: Ezk 43:1–7ab
He took  me to the gate, facing east. Then I saw the Glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east with a sound like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with his Glory. This vision was like the one I had seen when he came for the destruction of the city, and like the one I had seen on the bank of the river Chebar. Then I threw myself to the ground. The Glory of Yahweh arrived at the Temple by the east gate. The spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court: the Glory of Yahweh was filling the House. And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the man stood beside me. The voice said, "Son of man, you have seen the place of my throne, where I will place the soles of my feet, and live among the Israelites forever; and the people of Israel, they and their kings, will no longer defile my holy name with their prostitutions and the kings.
►Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees sat on the seat of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even raise a finger to move them. They do everything in order to be seen by people; so they wear very wide bands of the Law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first place at feasts and reserved seats in the synagogues, and being greeted in the marketplace and being called 'Master' by the people. "But you, do not let yourselves be called Master because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father, because you have only one Father, he who is in heaven. Nor should you be called leader, because Christ is the only leader for you. Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great."
REFLECTION

Every word of the gospel is addressed to every Christian without distinction; to the one who proclaims it, as much as to the ones who hear it proclaimed. It is "alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb 4:12). It can never be used, though it has often been used, by one person against another. It is not a dead instrument to be brandished at will; it is alive with a life of its own. The preacher cannot say, "You sinners…" but "We sinners…" because one edge of that sword is always turned towards the speaker.

August 26 Sunday
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Jos 24:1–2a, 15–17, 18b
Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel in Shechem, and assembled the elders, leaders, judges and secretaries. And together they presented themselves before God. Addressing the people, Joshua said to them: "Yahweh, the God of Israel, commands me to say to you: Your ancestors lived beyond the Euphrates River Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor serving other gods. But if you do not want to serve Yahweh, make known this very day whom you shall serve whether they be the gods your ancestors served in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites who formerly occupied the land in which you now live. As for me, I and my household will serve Yahweh." The people answered: "May God not permit that we ever abandon Yahweh to serve other gods! For it was he who brought us and our ancestors out of Egypt, the house of slavery. It was he who did those great wonders that we have seen; he protected us on the way and through all the land where we passed, driving away before us all the nations especially the Amorites who lived in this land. So we shall also serve Yahweh: he is our God!"
►2nd Reading: Eph 5:21–32
Let all kinds of submission to one another become obedience to Christ. So wives to their husbands: as to the Lord. The husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, of whom he is also the Savior. And as the Church submits to Christ, so let a wife submit in everything to her husband. As for you, husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. He washed her and made her holy by baptism in the Word. As he wanted a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless, he himself had to prepare and present her to himself. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. And no one has ever hated his body; he feeds and takes care of it. That is just what Christ does for the Church, because we are a part of his body. Scripture says: Because of this a man shall leave his father and mother to be united with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a very great mystery, and I refer to Christ and the Church.
►Gospel: Jn 6:60–69
After hearing his doctrine, many of Jesus' followers said, "This language is very hard! Who can accept it?" Jesus was aware that his disciples were murmuring about this and so he said to them, "Does this offend you? Then how will you react when you see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh cannot help. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. But among you there are some who do not believe." From the beginning, Jesus knew who would betray him. So he added, "As I have told you, no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father." After this many disciples withdrew and no longer followed him. Jesus asked the Twelve, "Will you also go away?" Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We now believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
REFLECTION

Read
• John 6:60-69: The Eucharist brings eternal life. Some have problems accepting this teaching and leave. Jesus offers freedom and Peter expresses his faith.
Reflect:
• Is this statement about the Eucharist a hard saying? Jesus gives you freedom. No one needs to stay. Can you join with Peter in expressing your faith?
Pray:
• Pray for people who find this a hard saying.
Act:
• Participate in a holy hour.

August 27 Monday
21st Week in Ordinary Time
Monica

►1st Reading: 2 Thes 1:1–5, 11–12
From Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians which is in God our Father and in Christ Jesus, the Lord. May grace and peace be yours from God the Father and Christ Jesus, the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we should give thanks to God at all times for you. It is fitting to do so, for your faith is growing and your love for one another increasing. We take pride in you among the churches of God because of your endurance and your faith in the midst of persecution and sufferings. In this the just judgment of God may be seen; for you must show yourselves worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are now suffering. This is why we constantly pray for you; may our God make you worthy of his calling. May he, by his power, fulfill your good purposes and your work prompted by faith. In that way, the name of Jesus our Lord will be glorified through you, and you through him, according to the loving plan of God and of Christ Jesus the Lord.
►Gospel: Matthew 23:13-22
Jesus said, "Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door to the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor do you allow others to do so. "Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel by sea and land to win a single convert, yet once he is converted, you turn him twice as fit for hell as yourselves. "Woe to you, blind guides! You say: 'To swear by the Temple is not binding, but to swear by the treasure of the Temple is. 'Blind fools! Which is of more worth? The gold in the Temple or the Temple which makes the gold a sacred treasure? You say: 'To swear by the altar is not binding, but to swear by the offering on the altar is.' How blind you are! Which is of more value: the offering on the altar or the altar which makes the offering sacred? Whoever swears by the altar is swearing by the altar and by everything on it. Whoever swears by the Temple is swearing by it and by God who dwells in the Temple. Whoever swears by heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it."
REFLECTION

The Pharisees interpreted the law so strictly that no one could observe it; not even they themselves. There was certainly no hope of observing it, they felt, if one remained immersed in ordinary living, so they withdrew (the word 'Pharisee' means 'separated'). Of course they came to despite others who were still immersed in worldly affairs. They were constantly scandalized by Jesus' association with tax collectors and sinners. They were consumed by zeal for the law rather than zeal for God. Their interpretations were strict to the point of absurdity. We should be thankful to them: they exemplified perfectly a track that religious people are forever in danger of sliding into. They show us that it is quite possible (and easy) to be interested in religion without being interested in God.

August 28 Tuesday
21st Week in Ordinary Time
Augustine

►1st Reading: 2 Thes 2:1–3a, 14–17
Brothers and sisters, let us speak about the coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, and our gathering to meet him. Do not be easily unsettled. Do not be alarmed by what a prophet says or by any report, or by some letter said to be ours, saying the day of the Lord is at hand. Do not let yourselves be deceived in any way. To this end he called you through the gospel we preach, for he willed you to share the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of that, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions that we taught you by word or by letter. May Christ Jesus our Lord who has loved us, may God our Father, who in his mercy gives us everlasting comfort and true hope, strengthen you. May he encourage your hearts and make you steadfast in every good work and word. ►Gospel: Matthew 23:23-26 J
esus said, "Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you pay the tenth of everything, but then you forget what is most fundamental in the Law: justice, mercy and faith. These you must practice, without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel. "Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You fill the plate and the cup with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside first, then the outside too will be purified."
REFLECTION

Mint, anise, and cumin are kitchen herbs grown in tiny quantities. It was normal to give tithes (10%) on all the main crops, but the Pharisees went to the extreme of measuring out tithes of these insignificant 'crops'. Meanwhile Jesus said they ignored the far more important matters of "justice, mercy, and good faith…" Thanks again to the Pharisees, we have a perfect model for people who are meticulous about tiny details of the Faith—fasting for exactly sixty minutes before receiving Communion, for example, or muttering the Angelus at midday and at six in the evening—but who cheat at work or give hell to their families.

August 29 Wednesday
Beheading of John the Baptist


►1st Reading: Jer 1:17–19
The word of Yahweh came to me: But you, get ready for action; stand up and say to them all that I command you. Be not scared of them or I will scare you in their presence! See, I will make you a fortified city, a pillar of iron with walls of bronze, against all the nations, against the kings and princes of Judah, against the priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue you—it is Yahweh who speaks.
►Gospel: Mark 6:17-29
Herod had ordered John to be arrested and had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her and John had told him, "It is not right for you to live with your brother's wife." So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she could not because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him. Herodias had her chance on Herod's birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you." And he went so far as to say with many oaths, "I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom." She went out to consult her mother, "What shall I ask for?" The mother replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried to the king and made her request: "I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish." The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John's disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.
REFLECTION

When we see tyranny and cruelty we are often hard put to find adequate words: we say it is 'inhuman'. But the still sadder reality is that it is all too human. Many animals kill and eat one another but not for power. They kill to save-off hunger but they do not drop bombs on cities and devote their time and energy to devising ever more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. Nor do they poison one another's minds with lies and propaganda. We say "Those people are fighting like animals!" Would to God we fought only like animals! We are the most dangerous species in the world. And yet, "the Word became flesh and lived among us."

August 30 Thursda
y 21st Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 1:1–9
From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and from Sosthenes, our brother, to God's Church which is in Corinth; to you whom God has sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with those who everywhere call upon the name of our Lord Christ Jesus, their Lord and ours. Receive grace and peace from God our Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord. I give thanks constantly to my God for you and for the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus. For you have been fully enriched in him with words as well as with knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you. You do not lack any spiritual gift and only await the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord. He will keep you steadfast to the end, and you will be without reproach on the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus. The faithful God will not fail you after calling you to this fellowship with his Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord.
►Gospel: Matthew 24:42-51
Jesus said to his disciples, "Stay awake, then, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Just think about this: if the owner of the house knew that the thief would come by night around a certain hour, he would stay awake to prevent his house to be broken into. So be alert, for the Son of Man will come at the hour you least expect. "Imagine a capable servant whom his master has put in charge of his household to give them food at the proper time. Fortunate indeed is that servant whom his master will find at work when he comes. Truly, I say to you, his lord will entrust that one with everything he has. "Not so with the bad servant who thinks: My master is delayed. And he begins ill-treating his fellow servants while eating and drinking with drunkards. But his master will come on the day he does not know and at the hour he least expects. He will dismiss that servant and deal with him as with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." REFLECTION Peter, James, and John fell asleep in Gethsemane because they could not bear to be present to what was happening. In the same way we also filter our certain people we do not like, or certain painful memories, or challenges that are facing us. And above all, we sleep when we are bored: when external stimulation ceases and we fail to mobilize our own inner resources. "Stay awake!" he said. "You do not know the day when your master is coming." But the master comes every day, does he not? However, if had said that, we would simply have gone back to sleep. He knows us very well!

August 31 Friday
21st Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 1:17–25
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim his Gospel. And not with beautiful words! That would be like getting rid of the cross of Christ. The language of the cross remains nonsense for those who are lost. Yet for us who are saved, it is the power of God, as Scripture says: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and make fail the foresight of the foresighted. Masters of human wisdom, educated people, philosophers, you have no reply! And the wisdom of this world? God let it fail. At first God spoke the language of wisdom, and the world did not know God through wisdom. Then God thought of saving the believers through the foolishness that we preach. The Jews ask for miracles and the Greeks for a higher knowledge, while we proclaim a crucified Messiah. For the Jews, what a great scandal! And for the Greeks, what nonsense! But he is Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God for those called by God among both Jews and Greeks. In reality, the "foolishness" of God is wiser than humans, and the "weakness" of God is stronger than humans.
►Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus told his disciples this parable: "This story throws light on what will happen in the kingdom of heaven. Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were careless while the others were sensible. "The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were and did not bring extra oil. But those who were sensible, brought with their lamps flasks of oil. As the bridegroom delayed, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. "But at midnight, a cry rang out: 'The bridegroom is here, come out and meet him!' All the maidens woke up at once and trimmed their lamps. Then the careless ones said to the sensible ones: 'Give us some oil, for our lamps are going out.' The sensible ones answered: 'There may not be enough for both you and us. You had better go to those who sell and buy for yourselves.' "They were out buying oil when the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him to the wed-ding feast, and the doors were shut. "Later the rest of the bridesmaids arrived and called out: 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he answered: 'Truly, I do not know you.' "So, stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour."
REFLECTION

One has to admit, the wise bridesmaids are far less attractive characters than the others! If you were really stuck, you would be more likely to get help from one of those foolish bridesmaids than from any of the wise ones. Jesus himself had a partiality for the weak, the sick, the wounded, the strayed, the lost as the model for his "lost sheep" parable. The point of this parable of the bridesmaids is readiness. Jesus was continuously telling people to wake up and stay awake.



 

September 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30

September 1 Saturday
21st Week in Ordinary Time
►1st Reading: 1 Cor 1:26–31
Brothers and sisters, look and see whom God has called. Few among you can be said to be cultured or wealthy, and few belong to noble families. Yet God has chosen what the world considers foolish, to shame the wise; he has chosen what the world considers weak to shame the strong. God has chosen common and unimportant people, making use of what is nothing to nullify the things that are, so that no mortal may boast before God. But, by God's grace you are in Christ Jesus, who has become our wisdom from God, and who makes us just and holy and free. Scripture says: Let the one who boasts boast of the Lord.
►Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus said to his disciples, "Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one, then two to another, and one to a third, each one according to his ability; and he went away. He who received five talents went at once to do business with the money and gained another five. The one who received two did the same and gained another two. But the one with one talent dug a hole and hid his master's money. "After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. The one who received five talents came with another five talents, saying: 'Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see I have gained five more with them.' The master answered: 'Very well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.' Then the one who had two talents came and said: 'Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; I have two more which I gained with them.' The master said: 'Well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.' "Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said: 'Master, I know that you are an exacting man. You reap what you have not sown and gather what you have not invested. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours.' But his master replied: 'Wicked and worthless servant, (you know that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not invested. Then you should have deposited my money in the bank, and you would have given it back to me with interest on my return. "'Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. As for that useless servant, throw him out into the dark where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
REFLECTION

A 'talent' was a measure of weight. You could have a talent of gold, a talent of silver, a talent of iron, etc.; it does not matter – it still a latent! This is surely part of the parable's message. It does not matter what kind of talents you have. We are to risk our talents, this parable teaches. The man who had only one talent was afraid to lose it, so he buried it in the ground. He probably looked at the people who had two talents or five, and he said, "It is all right for them; they can afford to risk and lose, but I have only one chance and it would be madness to risk it." Very logical, but there would be no life on earth if that logic prevailed everywhere.


September 2 Sunday
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
►1st Reading: Dt 4:1–2, 6–8
And now, Israel, listen to the norms and laws which I teach that you may put them into practice. And you will live and enter and take possession of the land which Yahweh, the God of your fathers, gives you. Do not add anything to what I command you nor take anything away from it. But keep the commandments of Yahweh, your God, as I command you. If you observe and practice them, other peoples will regard you as wise and intelligent. When they come to know of all these laws, they will say, "There is no people as wise and as intelligent as this great nation." For in truth, is there a nation as great as ours, whose gods are as near to it as Yahweh, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? And is there a nation as great as ours whose norms and laws are as just as this Law which I give you today?
►2nd Reading: Jas 1:17–18, 21–22, 27
Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Light, in whom there is no change or shadow of a change. By his own will he gave us life through the Word of Truth, that we might be a kind of offering to him among his creatures. So get rid of any filth and reject the prevailing evil, and welcome the Word that has been planted in you and has the power to save you. Be doers of the Word and not just hearers, lest you deceive yourselves. In the sight of God, our Father, pure and blameless religion lies in helping the orphans and widows in their need and keeping oneself from the world's corruption.
►Gospel: Mk 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23
One day the Pharisees gathered around Jesus and with them were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. Now the Pharisees, and in fact, all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors. Nor do they eat anything when they come from the market without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe, for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates. So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?" Jesus answered, "You, shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules. You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition." Jesus then called the people to him again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes out from within that makes unclean. For evil designs come out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean."
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23: The controversy with the Pharisees heats up. Rituals are supposed to express a good and true reality and not be observed if they make no sense.
Reflect
• Jesus confronted the Pharisee's shallow and lip service worship. Are you like the Pharisees concern only about rituals and not true worship which involves all of our being?
Pray
• Be conscious not only of how you pray but why you pray. What is your motivation when you worship?
Act • Participate actively in this Sunday liturgy, putting depth and meaning to every words and action.

September 3 Monday
22nd Week in Ordinary Time
Gregory the Great

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 2:1–5
When I came to reveal to you  the mystery of God's plan I did not count on eloquence or on a show of learning. I was determined not to know anything among you but Jesus, the Messiah, and a crucified Messiah. I myself came weak, fearful and trembling; my words and preaching were not brilliant or clever to win listeners. It was, rather, a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might be a matter, not of human wisdom, but of God's power.
►Gospel: Luke 4:16-30
When Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the book of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and announce the Lord's year of mercy." Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down, while the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he said to them, "Today these prophetic words come true even as you listen." All agreed with him and were lost in wonder, while he kept on speaking of the grace of God. Nevertheless they asked, "Who is this but Joseph's son?" So he said, "Doubtless you will quote me the saying: Doctor, heal yourself! Do here in your town what they say you did in Capernaum." Jesus added, "No prophet is honored in his own country. Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet, and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian." On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw him down the cliff. But he passed through their midst and went his way.
REFLECTION
They liked him well while he spoke sweet words to them, but the moment he began to pierce their egotism they became enraged. It is ever so with us. We even like to hear condemnations, provided they are not about us – or about me. I heard a preacher in Ireland who was trying valiantly to point his message straight at each individual in the congregation. "I'm talking to you," he said, "not the person behind you, not the person on your left or on your right, not the 'others,' but you, you, you!" After the Mass one neighbor said to another, "Man, I would not like to be the fellow that that priest was yelling at!"

September 4 Tuesday
22nd Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 2:10b–16
God has revealed it to us, through his Spirit, because the Spirit probes everything, even the depth of God. Who but his own spirit knows the secrets of a person? Similarly, no one but the Spirit of God knows the secrets of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God and, through him, we understand what God in his goodness has given us. So we speak of this, not in terms inspired by human wisdom, but in a language taught by the Spirit, explaining a spiritual wisdom to spiritual persons. The one who remains on the psychological level does not understand the things of the Spirit. They are foolishness for him and he does not understand because they require a spiritual experience. On the other hand, the spiritual person judges everything but no one judges him. Who has known the mind of God so as to teach him? But we have the mind of Christ.
►Gospel: Luke 4:31-37
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, and began teaching the people at the sabbath meetings. They were astonished at the way he taught them, for his word was spoken with authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by an evil spirit who shouted in a loud voice, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I recognize you: you are the Holy One of God." Then Jesus said to him sharply, "Be silent and leave this man!" The evil spirit then threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him harm. Amazement seized all these people and they said to one another, "What does this mean? He commands the evil spirits with authority and power. He orders, and you see how they come out!" And news about Jesus spread throughout the surrounding area.
REFLECTION

Most of the greatest crimes committed in the 20th century were committed by people who excused themselves afterwards by saying that they were following orders. The people who order atrocities who do them do not take responsibility: each group hides behind the other. How refreshing it is when people speak or act and there are no faceless persons lurking behind their backs, and they likewise are not lurking behind the backs of others. Then the truth is made manifest. The Greek word for "truth" is aletheia, and it means "to be unveiled, to stand in the open, to be made manifest."

September 5 Wednesday
22nd Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 3:1–9
I could not, friends, speak to you as spiritual persons but as fleshly people, for you are still infants in Christ. I gave you milk and not solid food, for you were not ready for it and up to now you cannot receive it for you are still of the flesh. As long as there is jealousy and strife, what can I say but that you are at the level of the flesh and behave like ordinary people. While one says: "I follow Paul," and the other: "I follow Apollos," what are you but people still at a human level? For what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are ministers and through them you believed, as it was given by the Lord to each of them. I planted, Apollos watered the plant, but God made it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who makes the plant grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work to the same end, and the Lord will pay each according to their work. We are fellow-workers with God, but you are God's field and building.
►Gospel: Luke 4:38-44
Leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon. His mother-in-law was suffering from high fever and they asked him to do something for her. Bending over her, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and waited on them. At sunset, people suffering from many kinds of sickness were brought to Jesus. Laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Demons were driven out, howling as they departed from their victims, "You are the Son of God!" He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, for they knew he was the Messiah. Jesus left at daybreak and looked for a solitary place. People went out in search of him and, finding him, they tried to dissuade him from leaving. But he said, "I have to go to other towns to announce the good news of the kingdom of God. That is what I was sent to do." So Jesus continued to preach in the synagogues of the Jewish country.
REFLECTION
There are unobtrusive verses scattered throughout the Gospels that tell us volumes about Jesus by their very silence. Today's passage contains one of them. "When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place " (v.42). Then there are the moments when he tells others to keep silent about him: Mark 1:44, 8:30; Luke 9:21, and today's passage, v. 41. And read the wonderful passage, Mt. 6, in which everything is divided, so to speak, into two columns, headed "in secret" and "to be seen by others." Why not meditate on this today: the silence of Jesus!

September 6 Thursday
22nd Week in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: 1 Cor 3:18–23
Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you considers himself wise in the ways of the world, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's eyes. To this, Scripture says: God catches the wise in their own wisdom. It also says: The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is useless. Because of this, let no one become an admirer of humans, for everything belongs to you, Paul, Apollos, Cephas—life, death, the present and the future. Everything is yours, and you, you belong to Christ, and Christ is of God.
►Gospel: Luke 5:1-11
One day, as Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, with a crowd gathered around him listening to the word of God, he caught sight of two boats left at the water's edge by the fishermen now washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a little from the shore. There he sat and continued to teach the crowd. When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Simon replied, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will lower the nets." This they did and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. They signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats almost to the point of sinking. Upon seeing this, Simon Peter fell at Jesus' knees, saying, "Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" For he and his companions were amazed at the catch they had made and so were Simon's partners, James and John, Zebedee's sons. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. You will catch people from now on." So they brought their boats to land and followed him, leaving everything.
REFLECTION
Perhaps we associate our faith too much with buildings and special places. These have a powerful value as symbols: in remaining more or less unchanged from generation to generation they could be said to symbolize the unchangeableness of eternity. But the world of nature is a constantly changing world, it is forever surprising us. There are days when we need to be surprised. On such days, walk in the hills or along by the river. Meet the Lord whose eye took in every detail of ordinary living, who saw nature as a poet sees it, who saw parables of life in ordinary men and women's work, who saw images of God "wherever life pours ordinary plenty."

September 7 Friday
22nd Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 4:1–5
Let everyone see us as the servants of Christ and stewards of the secret works of God. Being stewards, faithfulness shall be demanded of us; but I do not mind if you or any human court judges me. I do not even judge myself; my conscience indeed does not accuse me of anything, but that is not enough for me to be set right with God: the Lord is the one who judges me. Therefore, do not judge before the time, until the coming of the Lord. He will bring to light whatever was hidden in darkness and will disclose the secret intentions of the hearts. Then each one will receive praise from God.
►Gospel: Luke 5:33-39
The scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus, "The disciples of John fast often and say long prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why is it that your disciples eat and drink?" Then Jesus said to them, "You can't make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them. But later the bridegroom will be taken from them and they will fast in those days." Jesus also told them this parable, "No one tears a piece from a new coat to put it on an old one; otherwise the new will be torn and the piece taken from the new will not match the old. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed as well. But new wine must be put into fresh skins. Yet no one who has tasted old wine is eager to get new wine, but says: The old is good."
REFLECTION

Unlike John the Baptist, whose diet was "wild honey and locusts," Jesus seems to have eaten normal meals and to have enjoyed feasts and celebrations. In common with Old Testament custom he often used images of food and drink and feasting to describe the Kingdom of God. He taught the disciples to pray, among other things, for their daily bread. Above all, the occasion on which he is present for all time to disciples of every generation is a shared meal, the Eucharist.

September 8 Saturday
Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

►1st Reading: Mic 5:1–4
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, so small that you are hardly named among the clans of Judah, from you shall I raise the one who is to rule over Israel. For he comes forth from of old, from the ancient times. Yahweh, therefore, will abandon Israel until such time as she who is to give birth has given birth. Then the rest of his deported brothers will return to the people of Israel. He will stand and shepherd his flock with the strength of Yahweh, in the glorious Name of Yahweh, his God. They will live safely while he wins renown to the ends of the earth. He shall be peace. When the Assyrian invades our land and sets foot on our territory, we will raise against him not one but seven shepherds, eight warlords.
►Gospel: Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23
This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Sal-mon. Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah's wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings: Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah. Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus who is called the Christ—the Messiah. This is how Jesus Christ was born. Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her. While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him 'Jesus' for he will save his people from their sins." All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel, which means: God-with-us.
REFLECTION

The New Testament tells us nothing about the birth of Mary, neither the date nor the names of her parents (it is legend that calls them Joachim and Anne); but it has plenty to say about the birth in her of the Word. This is the birth that outshines the other, as the Remaking that is the Redemption is superior to the original making. Yet, genially, the Church celebrates her birthday! She was born sometime and she had two parents, so we celebrate her birthday, why not? Thank God for the human warmth of the Catholic faith!

September 9 Sunday
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Is 35:4–7a
Say to those who are afraid: "Have courage, do not fear. See, your God comes, demanding justice. He is the God who rewards, the God who comes to save you." Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unsealed. Then will the lame leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing and shout. For water will break out in the wilderness and streams gush forth from the desert. The thirsty ground will become a pool, the arid land springs of water. In the haunts where once reptiles lay, grass will grow with reeds and rushes.
►2nd Reading: Jas 2:1–5
My brothers and sisters, if you truly believe in our glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, you will not discriminate between persons. Suppose a person enters the synagogue where you are assembled, dressed magnificently and wearing a gold ring; at the same time, a poor person enters dressed in rags. If you focus your attention on the welldressed and say, "Come and sit in the best seat," while to the poor one you say, "Stay standing or else sit down at my feet," have you not, in fact, made a distinction between the two? Have you not judged, using a double standard? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, did God not choose the poor of this world to receive the riches of faith and to inherit the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?
►Gospel: Mk 7:31–37
Again Jesus set out; from the country of Tyre he passed through Sidon and skirting the sea of Galilee he came to the territory of Decapolis. There a deaf man who also had difficulty in speaking was brought to him. They asked Jesus to lay his hand upon him. Jesus took him apart from the crowd, put his fingers into the man's ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then, looking up to heaven, he groaned and said to him, "Ephphetha," that is, "Be opened." And his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone, but the more he insisted on this, the more they proclaimed it. The people were completely astonished and said, "He has done all things well; he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 7:31-37 Jesus shows his power by healing deaf and dumb man.
Reflect
• Why is healing so prominent in this gospel? Does the church continue this ministry? Do you?
Pray
• Sometimes people miss the signs of the presence of God. Pray that your eyes be always open to God's presence, especially in the world and in others.
Act • Work a miracle with Jesus by witnessing to him. Allow your good deeds to be signs of God's presence.

September 10 Tuesday
23rd Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 5:1–8
You have become news with a case of immorality, and such a case that is not even found among pagans. Yes, one of you has taken as wife his own stepmother. And you feel proud! Should you not be in mourning instead and expel the one who did such a thing. For my part, although I am physically absent, my spirit is with you and, as if present, I have already passed sentence on the man who committed such a sin. Let us meet together, you and my spirit, and in the name of our Lord Jesus and with his power, you shall deliver him to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit be saved in the day of Judgment. This is not the time to praise yourselves. Do you not know that a little yeast makes the whole mass of dough rise? Throw out, then, the old yeast and be new dough. If Christ became our Passover, you should be unleavened bread. Let us celebrate, therefore, the Passover, no longer with old yeast, which is sin and perversity; let us have unleavened bread, that is purity and sincerity.
►Gospel: Luke 6:6-11
On another Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and began teaching. There was a man with a paralyzed right hand and the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees watched him: Would Jesus heal the man on the Sabbath? If he did, they could accuse him. But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to the man, "Get up and stand in the middle." Then he spoke to them, "I want to ask you: what is allowed by the Law on the Sabbath, to do good or to do harm, to save life or destroy it?" And Jesus looked around at them all. Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored, becoming as whole as the other. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another how they could deal with Jesus.
REFLECTION

There was an objection from the Pharisees because Jesus was breaking their rules by healing on the Sabbath; their position (their power) was being threatened. There are many like them, whose position and power depend on others remaining powerless. This kind of power always has an agenda, it is power over or against others. It is a jockeying for position and privilege; fundamentally it is aggression. This kind of power exists wherever there are people who have not been converted by the gospel; it exists in the Church, where there are many unconverted. A question for a quiet hour: when was the last time I empowered anyone but myself?


September 11 Tuesday
23rd Week in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: 1 Cor 6:1–11
When you have a complaint against a brother, how dare you bring it before pagan judges instead of bringing it before God's people? Do you not know that you shall one day judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you incapable of judging such simple problems? Do you not know that we will even judge the angels? And could you not decide every day affairs? But when you have ordinary cases to be judged, you bring them before those who are of no account in the Church! Shame on you! Is there not even one among you wise enough to be the arbiter among believers? But no. One of you brings a suit against another one, and files that suit before unbelievers. It is already a failure that you have suits against each other. Why do you not rather suffer wrong and receive some damage? But no. You wrong and injure others, and those are your brothers and sisters. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Make no mistake about it: those who lead sexually immoral lives, or worship idols, or who are adulterers, perverts, sodomites, or thieves, exploiters, drunkards, gossips or embezzlers will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Some of you were like that, but you have been cleansed and consecrated to God and have been set right with God by the Name of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit of our God.
►Gospel: Luke 6:12-19
Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them whom he called apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who would be the traitor. Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood on a level place. Many of his disciples were there and a large crowd of people who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. They gathered to hear him and be healed of their diseases; likewise people troubled by evil spirits were healed. The entire crowd tried to touch him because of the power that went out from him and healed them all.
REFLECTION

Jesus spent the whole night in prayer, then he chose Judas to be one of the Twelve who would carry his message to the world! Judas gets a bad press in the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of John. If Judas were a rascal from the start, interested only in money, why should he commit suicide as soon as he had the money in his pocket? So perhaps there is another side to Judas. If so, then there are probably also another side to all the lesser Judases of this world. The original Judas was an apostle, a tragic one; his sin was that he was in too much of a hurry. Aren't we all? Aren't we all…?

September 12 Wednesday
23rd Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 7:25–31
With regard to those who remain virgins, I have no special commandment from the Lord, but I give some advice, hoping that I am worthy of trust by the mercy of the Lord. I think this is good in these hard times in which we live. It is good for someone to remain as he is. If you are married, do not try to divorce your wife; if you are not married, do not marry. He who marries does not sin, nor does the young girl sin who marries. Yet they will face disturbing experiences, and I would like to spare you. I say this, brothers and sisters: time is running out, and those who are married must live as if not married; those who weep as if not weeping; those who are happy as if they were not happy; those buying something as if they had not bought it, and those enjoying the present life as if they were not enjoying it. For the order of this world is vanishing.
►Gospel: Luke 6:20-26
Lifting up his eyes to his disciples, Jesus said: "Fortunate are you who are poor, the kingdom of God is yours. Fortunate are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Fortunate are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Fortunate are you when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember that is how the ancestors of this people treated the prophets. But alas for you who have wealth, for you have been comforted now. Alas for you who are full, for you will go hungry. Alas for you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Alas for you when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of these people treated the false prophets."
REFLECTION

Luke;s 'beatitudes' are shorter than Matthew's, and they are balanced by 'woes'. V. 24 is better translated, 'Alas for you who are rich, for you have all the comfort you are going to get." The word he uses for 'have' (apechete) is the word used for receiving payment in full of an account. It is an instance of the gospel's topic: an inversion of worldly values. Nothing fails like success.

September 13 Thursday
23rd Week in Ordinary Time
John Chrysostom
►1st Reading: 1 Cor 8:1–7, 11–13
Regarding meat from the offerings to idols, we know that all of us have knowledge but knowledge puffs up, while love builds. If anyone thinks that he has knowledge, he does not yet know as he should know, but if someone loves (God), he has been known (by God). Can we, then, eat meat from offerings to the idols? We know that an idol is without existence and that there is no God but one. People speak indeed of other gods in heaven and on earth and, in this sense, there are many gods and lords. Yet for us, there is but one God, the Father, from whom everything comes, and to whom we go. And there is one Lord, Christ Jesus, through whom everything exists and through him we exist. Not everyone, however, has that knowledge. For some persons, who until recently took the idols seriously, that food remains linked to the idol and eating of it stains their conscience which is unformed. Then with your knowledge you would have caused your weak brother or sister to perish, the one for whom Christ died. When you disturb the weak conscience of your brother or sister and sin against them, you sin against Christ himself. Therefore, if any food will bring my brother to sin, I shall never eat this food lest my brother or sister fall.
►Gospel: Luke 6:27-38
Jesus said to his disciples, "But I say to you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back. "Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of graciousness is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favors to those who are good to you, what kind of graciousness is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of graciousness is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return. "But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For he is kind towards the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Don't be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back."
REFLECTION

The love that Jesus spoke of is able to break the cycle of violence. It introduces a new element that makes everything possible: like the zero in arithmetic. The ancient Romans lacked zero, and so they never developed a mathematics. Try multiplying say, MDCXVI by XIX and you will see why (it can be done, but will take long). Zero frees up the whole system, makes all the other digits mobile, and makes mathematics possible. Without it numbers are like traffic that is gridlocked: nothing moves. Love is like that. It is the zero response to hatred, it frees us from the depressing cycles of violence.

September 14 Friday
Triumph of the Cross

►1st Reading: Num 21:4b–9
From Mount Hor they set out by the Red Sea road to go around the land of Edom. The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna." Yahweh then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, speaking against Yahweh and against you. Plead with Yahweh to take the serpents away." Moses pleaded for the people and Yahweh said to him, "Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.
►2nd Reading: Phil 2:6–11
Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in his appearance found as a man. He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted him and gave him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father. ►Gospel: John 3:13-17
Jesus said to Nicodemus, "No one has ever gone up to heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. "Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through him the world is to be saved."
REFLECTION

The cross of Christ reverses every value: what we call failure is renamed success, and vice versa, what we call shame is renamed glory, and vice versa, what we call death is renamed the source of new life. It is the central icon or symbol of our Faith. Yet we use it as an ornament! We hang it on a wall as a decoration, part of the interior décor of a room. But it is not part of anything: on the contrary, it puts everything in question.


September 15 Saturday
23rd Week in Ordinary Time
Our Lady of Sorrows


►1st Reading: Heb 5:7–9
Christ, in the days of his mortal life, offered his sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to him who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his humble submission. Although he was Son, he learned through suffering what obedience was, and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for those who obey him.
►2nd Reading: Eph 3:8-12, 14-19
Brothers and sisters: To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
►Gospel: Luke 2:33-35
His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, "See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes of Israel. He shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul. Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light."
REFLECTION

By comparing the gospels with one another we see that if the third woman at the cross of Jesus – variously called "Salome" (Mk 15:40), "Jesus' mother's sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas" (Jn 19:25) and "the mother of the sons of Zebedee" (Mt 27:56) – was indeed one and the same person, then the Sons of Zebedee were the cousins of Jesus. They could not be full cousins, because there would not be two Marys in the one family; but it was normal to give the word 'sister' a wider meaning, so they were cousins of some kind. (Perhaps that is why they expected privileged positions in the Kingdom!) So, the three women who stood by him (in a most literal sense) were his mother, his 'aunt', and his friend Mary Magdalen. Thank God for their greater fidelity and courage. They put the men disciples to shame.

September 16 Sunday
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Is 50:5–9a
The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn. I offered my back to those who strike me, my cheeks to those who pulled my beard; neither did I shield my face from blows, spittle and disgrace. I have not despaired, for the Lord Yahweh comes to my help. So, like a flint I set my face, knowing that I will not be disgraced. He who avenges me is near. Who then will accuse me? Let us confront each other. Who is now my accuser? Let him approach. If the Lord Yahweh is my help. who will condemn me? All of them will wear out like cloth; the moth will devour them.
►2nd Reading: Jas 2:14–18
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, to profess faith without showing works? Such faith has no power to save you. If a brother or sister is in need of clothes or food and one of you says, "May things go well for you; be warm and satisfied," without attending to their material needs, what good is that? So it is for faith without deeds: it is totally dead. Say to whoever challenges you, "You have faith and I have good deeds; show me your faith apart from actions and I, for my part, will show you my faith in the way I act."
►Gospel: Mk 8:27–35
Jesus set out with his disciples for the villages around Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" And they told him, "Some say you are John the Baptist; others say you are Elijah or one of the prophets." Then Jesus asked them, "But you, who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Messiah." And he ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. He would be killed and after three days rise again. Jesus said all this quite openly, so that Peter took him aside and began to protest strongly. But Jesus turning around, and looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter saying, "Get behind me Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as people do." Then Jesus called the people and his disciples and said, "If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it; and if you lose your life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel, you will save it.
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 8:27 – 35: Peter professes his faith in Jesus but does not understand as Jesus predicts his passion. Jesus gives a teaching on discipleship.
Reflect
• Notice the exchange with Peter. How does it differ from the section in Matthew 16 where Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven?
Pray
• Just because a person has grown up with Jesus does not mean the person has accepted Jesus. Pray for the grace to accept the teachings of Jesus, even when they seem difficult. Pick up the daily cross of living.
Act
• Do not complain about your life situation. You can always find someone who is worse off than you are.

September 17 Monday
24th Week in Ordinary Time

Robert Bellarmine


►1st Reading: 1 Cor 11:17–26, 33
Brothers and sisters, to continue with my advice, I cannot praise you, for your gatherings are not for the better but for the worse. First, as I have heard, when you gather together, there are divisions among you and I partly believe it. There may have to be different groups among you, so that it becomes clear who among you are genuine. Your gatherings are no longer the Supper of the Lord, ‑for each one eats at once his own food and while one is hungry, the other is getting drunk. Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or perhaps you despise the Church of God and desire to humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say? Shall I praise you? For this I cannot praise you. This is the tradition of the Lord that I received and that in my turn I have handed on to you; the Lord Jesus, on the night that he was delivered up, took bread and, after giving thanks, broke it, saying, "This is my body which is broken for you; do this in memory of me." In the same manner, taking the cup after the supper, he said, "This cup is the new Covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do it in memory of me." So, then, whenever you eat of this bread and drink from this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes. So then, brothers, when you gather for a meal, wait for one another.
►Gospel: Luke 7:1-10
When Jesus had finished teaching to the people, he went to Capernaum. There was a captain whose servant was very sick and near to death, a man very dear to him. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent some elders of the Jews to persuade him to come and save his servant's life. The elders came to Jesus and begged him earnestly, saying, "He deserves this of you, for he loves our people and even built a synagogue for us." Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the captain sent friends to give this message, "Sir, do not trouble yourself for I am not worthy to welcome you under my roof. You see I didn't approach you myself. Just give the order and my servant will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers and I say to this one: 'Go,' and he goes; and to the other: 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant: 'Do this,' and he does it." On hearing these words, Jesus was filled with admiration. He turned and said to the people with him, "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith." The people sent by the captain went back to his house; there they found that the servant was well.
REFLECTION

The centurion was also particularly sensitive to Jewish custom. He knew that Jews would not allow Gentiles to enter their houses, nor would they enter the house of a gentile, so he sent messengers to Jesus. When Jesus came near the house, the centurion said, "Sir, I am not worthy to receive you in my house…" This goes to show that an army man does not have to give his soul to the army; he can be a human being at the same time. Those New Testament centurions, pagans though they were, have much to teach us about work and humanity.

September 18 Tuesday
24th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 12:12–14, 27–31
As the body is one, having many members, and all the members, while being many, form one body, so it is with Christ. All of us, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, have been baptized in one Spirit to form one body and all of us have been given to drink from the one Spirit. The body has not just one member, but many. Now, you are the body of Christ and each of you individually is a member of it. So God has appointed us in the Church. First apostles, second prophets, third teachers. Then come miracles, then the gift of healing, material help, administration in the Church and the gift of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Can all perform miracles, or cure the sick, or speak in tongues, or explain what was said in tongues? Be that as it may, set your hearts on the most precious gifts, and I will show you a much better way.
►Gospel: Luke 7:11-17
A little later Jesus went to a town called Naim and many of his disciples went with him—a great number of people. As he reached the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother and she was a widow; there followed a large crowd of townspeople. On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, "Don't cry." Then he came up and touched the stretcher and the men who carried it stopped. Jesus then said, "Young man, awake, I tell you." And the dead man got up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. A holy fear came over them all and they praised God saying, "A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people." This news spread out in the Jewish country and the surrounding places.
REFLECTION

This is the first use in the gospel of the word 'Lord' to describe Jesus (v. 13), a tithe hitherto reserved to God; and the context is mercy. How appropriate! God's name is 'Mercy'. The Hebrew word cesed translated into Greek as eleos as in kyrie eleison) and into Latin as misericordia (mercy) is very difficult to translate properly, the scholars tell us. It would take many words to convey its meaning, steadfastness, loyalty, doing justice for another, love, the will to save, etc. But perhaps it is best seen in life itself!

September 19 Wednesday
4th Week in Ordinary Time
Januarius

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 12:31–13:13
Be that as it may, set your hearts on the most precious gifts, and I will show you a much better way. If I could speak all the human and angelic tongues, but had no love, I would only be sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, knowing secret things with all kinds of knowledge, and had faith great enough to remove mountains, but had no love, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I had to the poor, and even give up my body to be burned, if I am without love, it would be of no value to me. Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. It is not ill-mannered nor does it seek its own interest. Love overcomes anger and forgets offenses. It does not take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love will never end. Prophecies may cease, tongues be silent and knowledge disappear. For knowledge grasps something of the truth and prophecy as well. And when what is perfect comes, everything imperfect will pass away. When I was a child I thought and reasoned like a child, but when I grew up, I gave up childish ways. Likewise, at present we see dimly as in a mirror, but then it shall be face to face. Now we know in part, but then I will know as I am known. Now we have faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.
►Gospel: Luke 7:31-35
Jesus said, "What comparison can I use for this people? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain: 'We piped you a tune and you wouldn't dance; we sang funeral songs and you wouldn't cry.' "Remember John: he didn't eat bread or drink wine, and you said: 'He has an evil spirit.' Next came the Son of Man, eating and drinking, and you say: 'Look, a glutton for food and wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But the children of Wisdom always recognize her work."
REFLECTION

A critic who has no taste or style or identity of his own will try to build an identity by being against everything. We can all become that kind at times. Not with books but with life itself. Nothing pleases us, everything is wrong. It may be a throw-back to childhood, that time when we experience our own extreme poverty in every direction. But there are also excellent critics, who have instinct and a good eye; unlike the other kind, they have a wide outlook and they are capable of admiring a work, and for the right reasons. Would that we could learn the right kind of criticism of ourselves or take it when others hand it to us!

September 20 Thursday
24th Week in Ordinary Time
Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang
and Companions


►1st Reading: 1 Cor 15:1–11*
Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the Good News that I preached to you and which you received and on which you stand firm. By that Gospel you are saved, provided that you hold to it as I preached it. Otherwise, you will have believed in vain. In the first place, I have passed on to you what I myself received: that Christ died for our sins, as Scripture says; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. Afterwards he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters together; most of them are still alive, although some have already gone to rest. Then he appeared to James and after that to all the apostles. And last of all, he appeared to the most despicable of them, this is to me. For I am the last of the apostles, and I do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. Nevertheless, by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been without fruit. Far from it, I have toiled more than all of them, although not I, rather the grace of God in me.
►Gospel: Luke 7:36-50
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to share his meal, so he went to the Pharisee's home and as usual reclined on the sofa to eat. And it happened that a woman of this town, who was known as a sinner, heard that he was in the Pharisee's house. She brought a precious jar of perfume and stood behind him at his feet, weeping. She wet his feet with tears, she dried them with her hair and kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them. The Pharisee who had invited Jesus was watching and thought, "If this man were a prophet, he would know what sort of person is touching him; isn't this woman a sinner?" Then Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and said, "Simon, I have something to ask you." He answered, "Speak, master." And Jesus said, "Two people were in debt to the same creditor. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. As they were unable to pay him back, he graciously canceled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, who was forgiven more." And -Jesus said, "You are right." And turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? You gave me no water for my feet when I entered your house, but she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn't welcome me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing my feet since she came in. You provided no oil for my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. This is why, I tell you, her sins, her many sins, are forgiven, because of her great love. But the one who is forgiven little, has little love." Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven." The others sitting with him at the table began to wonder, "Now this man claims to forgive sins!" But Jesus again spoke to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
REFLECTION

There is great irony in the fact that, without knowing it, a woman of the streets paid Jesus the very courtesies that his host Simon the Pharisee had so rudely omitted. Meanwhile Simon thought to himself, "If this man were a prophet!" Simon's thought was so conventional that it was thought at all. A prophet might be expected to surprise people and jolt them out of their fixed minds. But for Simon, a prophet would be someone who pried into people's hearts in order to judge and condemn them – just as the Pharisees did! A prophet would be someone who kept the line of division clear: sinner/saint. He was not ready and he could not imagine a Messiah who would "welcome sinners and eat with them."

September 21 Friday
Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist


►1st Reading: Eph 4:1–7, 11–13
Therefore I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you the unity of Spirit through bonds of peace. Let there be one body and one spirit, for God, in calling you, gave the same Spirit to all. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God, the Father of all, who is above all and works through all and is in all. But to each of us divine grace is given according to the measure of Christ's gift. As for his gifts, to some he gave to be apostles, to others prophets, or even evangelists, or pastors and teachers. So he prepared those who belong to him for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity and sharing the fullness of Christ.
►Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus moved on, he saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and he said to him, "Follow me." And Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and other sinners joined Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, "Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?" When Jesus heard this he said, "Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."
REFLECTION

St. Augustine thinks Matthew was not called at the same time as the others because he had some financial matters to finish off. But a sixth century writer took it that Matthew left his affairs in disorder, a thing that greatly impressed him. It must be particularly difficult for someone who deals with figures to leave them unbalanced. Do we have to balance our books before we set out on the Gospel path?

September 22 Saturday
24th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: 1 Cor 15:35–37, 42–49
Some of you will ask: How will the dead be raised? With what kind of body will they come? You fools! What you sow cannot sprout unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body of the future plant but a bare grain of wheat or any other seed. It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in decomposition; it will be raised never more to die. It is sown in humiliation, and it will be raised for Glory. It is buried in weakness, but the resurrection shall be with power. When buried it is a natural body, but it will be raised as a spiritual body. For there shall be a spiritual body as there is at present a living body. Scripture says that Adam, the first man, became a living being; but the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. The spirit does not appear first, but the natural life, and afterwards comes the spirit. The first man comes from the earth and is earthly, while the second one comes from heaven. As it was with the earthly one, so is it with the earthly people. As it is with Christ, so with the heavenly. This is why, after bearing the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
►Gospel: Luke 8:4-15
As a great crowd gathered and people came to him from every town, Jesus began teaching them through stories, or parables, "The sower went out to sow the seed. And as he sowed, some of the grain fell along the way, was trodden on and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and no sooner had it come up than it withered, because it had no water. Some fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it. But some fell on good soil and grew, producing fruit—a hundred times as much." And Jesus cried out, "Listen then, if you have ears to hear!" The disciples asked him, "What does this story mean?" And Jesus answered, "You have been granted to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to others it is given in the form of stories, or parables, so that seeing they may not perceive and hearing they may not understand." Now, this is the point of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the wayside are people who hear it, but immediately the devil comes and takes the word from their minds, for he doesn't want them to believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are people who receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe for a while and give way in time of trial. Among the thorns are people who hear the word but as they go their way, are choked by worries, riches, and the pleasures of life; they bring no fruit to maturity. The good soil, instead, are people who receive the word and keep it in a gentle and generous mind, and persevering patiently, they bear fruit.
REFLECTION
When you put things into a place, the place becomes fuller than before, and it is eventually quite full, so that there is no room left. But almost the opposite is true of the heart. The more you put in, the more room there is – for more of the same. If you put wealth and privilege there, you develop a need for more of the same. If you put prayer and meditation there, you want to pray and meditate even more. But wealth and privilege can very easily exclude prayer and meditation: the more of one, the less of the other. Yes, the heart is a strange place. If it can be called a place at all; it certainly has a different kind of geometry.


September 23 Sunday
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Wis 2:12, 17–20
The godless say to themselves, "Let us set a trap for the righteous, for he annoys us and opposes our way of life; he reproaches us for our breaches of the Law and accuses us of being false to our upbringing. Let us see the truth of what he says and find out what his end will be. If the righteous is a son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from his adversaries. Let us humble and torture him to prove his self-control and test his patience. When we have condemned him to a shameful death, we may test his words."
►2nd Reading: Jas 3:16—4:3
Wherever there is jealousy and ambition, you will also find discord and all that is evil. Instead, the wisdom that comes from above is pure and peace-loving. Persons with this wisdom show understanding and listen to advice; they are full of compassion and good works; they are impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow peace reap a harvest of justice. What causes these fights and quarrels among you? Is it not your inner longings that make war within your own selves? When you long for something you cannot have, you kill for it and when you do not get what you desire, you squabble and fight. The fact is, you do not have what you want because you do not pray for it. You pray for something and you do not get it because you pray with the wrong motive of indulging your pleasures.
►Gospel: Mk 9:30–37
Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; but Jesus did not want people to know where he was because he was teaching his disciples. And he told them, "The Son of Man will be delivered into human hands. They will kill him, but three days after he has been killed, he will rise." The disciples, however, did not understand these words and they were afraid to ask him what he meant. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, Jesus asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?" But they did not answer because they had been arguing about who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve and said to them, "If someone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child, placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, "Whoever welcomes a child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me but the One who sent me."
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 9: 30–37 For the second time Jesus predicts his passion; the disciples do not understand and Jesus gives another lesson on discipleship.
Reflect
• Why must Jesus suffer and die? Do we accept suffering not only as part and parcel of life but even essential to following the Lord?
Pray
• Pray for the strength to withstand trials in your ministry.
Act
• Learn greatness from the simplicity and humility of little children.

September 24 Monday
25th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Pro 3:27–34
Do not hold back from those who ask your help, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, "Go away! Come another time; tomorrow I will give it to you!" when you can help him now. Do not plot evil against your neighbor who lives trustingly beside you, nor fight a man without cause when he has done you no wrong. Do not envy the man of violence or follow his example. For Yahweh hates the wicked but guides the honest. He curses the house of the evildoer but blesses the home of the upright. If there are mockers, he mocks them in turn but he shows his favor to the humble.
►Gospel: Luke 8:16-18
Jesus said to his disciples, "No one, after lighting a lamp covers it with a bowl or puts it under the bed; rather he puts it on a lampstand so that people coming in may see the light. In the same way, there is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered; nothing kept secret that shall not be known clearly. Now, take care how well you listen, for whoever produces will be given more, but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them."
REFLECTION

If you have a gift and you neglect it (like the man in the Gospel who buried his one talent), you gradually lose it. For example, if you have a gift for music but you never practice it, you begin to lose the gift; but if you cultivate that gift it increases. The same is true of all gifts: gifts of prayer, of intelligence, of imagination, even of physical strength.

September 25 Tuesday
25th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Pro 21:1–6, 10–13
In the hands of Yahweh, the heart of the king is like running water; he directs it wherever he wishes. To the eyes of man all his ways are honest but it is Yahweh who weighs the heart. To do what is upright and just pleases Yahweh more than sacrifice. Haughty looks, proud heart, the light of the wicked is sin. The plans of a hardworking man result in earnings; poverty is for those who act too hastily. To make a fortune by means of deceit is like running after the wind; the end is death. The soul of the wicked desires nothing but evil; not even his friend is treated with compassion. When the mocker is punished the ignorant man grows wise; when the wise man is instructed he grows in knowledge. The Just One watches the house of the evildoer and hurls the wicked into misfortune. He who is deaf to the poor man's cry will not be heard when he himself calls out.
►Gospel: Luke 8:19-21
Then his mother and his relatives came to him, but they could not get to him because of the crowd. Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet you." Then Jesus answered, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
REFLECTION

Everyone who hears and keeps the Word of God is a relative of Jesus. Why not spell it out more fully? If you are trying to live a Christian life you can think of yourself as the Lord's mother, aunt, uncle, younger sister, brother, cousin, next-door neighbor…. If this awareness entered your soul very deeply you could never again treat any relative of yours badly. Every human relationship would be opened up and made a vehicle for the grace of Christ.

September 26 Wednesday
25th Week in Ordinary Time
Cosmas and Damian
►1st Reading: Pro 30:5–9
Every word of God is true, he is a shield in whom man can find refuge. Add nothing to his words lest he rebuke you and take you for a liar. O God, two things I beg of you, do not deny me them before I die. Keep lying and falsehood far away from me, give me neither poverty nor riches. Give me just as much food as I need lest, satisfied, I deny you and say, "Who is Yahweh?" Or else, out of necessity, I steal and profane the name of my God.
►Gospel: Luke 9:1-6
Jesus called his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, "Don't take anything for the journey, neither walking stick, nor bag, nor bread, nor silver coins; and don't even take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they don't welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet: it will be as a testimony against them." So they set out and went through the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
REFLECTION

People who believe in God and in God's providence do not have it any easier than others; in fact they often have it harder. A business person (Matthew, for example in his tax-gathering days) would say there were no short-term benefits. What about the long-term benefits? Preachers have played this card with the shamelessness of businessmen. Their hearers were prepared for it, because they all remembered by heart the catechism answer to why we are on this earth, "To know, love, and serve God, and by this means to be happy with him forever in heaven." God then was a means to my happiness. It is not surprising that many found Mammon could do it better.

September 27 Thursday
25th Week in Ordinary Time
Vincent de Paul


►1st Reading: Ecl 1:2–11
All is meaningless—says the Teacher—meaningless, meaningless! What profit is there for a man in all his work for which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, a generation comes and the earth remains forever. The sun rises, the sun sets, hastening towards the place where it again rises. Blowing to the south, turning to the north, the wind goes round and round and after all its rounds it has to blow again. All rivers go to the sea but the sea is not full; to the place where the rivers come from, there they return again. All words become weary and speech comes to an end, but the eye has never seen enough nor the ear heard too much. What has happened before will happen again; what has been done before will be done again: there is nothing new under the sun. If they say to you, "See, it's new!" know that it has already been centuries earlier. There is no remembrance of ancient people, and those to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.
►Gospel: Luke 9:7-9
King Herod heard of all that Jesus was doing and did not know what to think, for people said, "This is John, raised from the dead." Others believed that Elijah or one of the ancient prophets had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, "I had John beheaded; who is this man about whom I hear such wonders?" And he was anxious to see him.
REFLECTION

John was Herod's bad conscience that is why he appeared to be always coming back: guilt does not let you rest in peace for long. Herod's presence at this point is an ominous one, and even more ominous is his curiosity about Jesus; one is better off without the curiosity of such people. It is empty curiosity strongly contrasted with the interest that real disciples have in turn.

September 28 Friday
25th Week in Ordinary Time
Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila and Companions / Wenceslaus

►1st Reading: Ecl 3:1–11
There is a given time for everything and a time for every happening under heaven: A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting. A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building. A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing. A time for throwing stones, a time for gathering stones; a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing. A time for searching, a time for losing; a time for keeping, a time for throwing away. A time for tearing, a time for sewing; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peace. What profit is there for a man from all his toils? Finally I considered the task God gave to the humans. He made everything fitting in its time, but he also set eternity in their hearts, although man is not able to embrace the work of God from the beginning to the end.
►Gospel: Luke 9:18-22
One day when Jesus was praying alone, not far from his disciples, he asked them, "What do people say about me?" And they answered, "Some say that you are John the Baptist; others say that you are Elijah, and still others that you are one of the former prophets risen from the dead." Again Jesus asked them, "Who then do you say I am?" Peter answered, "The Messiah of God." Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And he added, "The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and chief priests and teachers of the Law, and put to death. Then after three days he will be raised to life."
REFLECTION

What is the difference between the questions: "Who do the crowds say I am?" and "Who do you say I am?" In a word, the difference is suffering. To answer the first, you need to be a religious journalist; to answer the second, you need to put your cards on the table – or rather, your life on the line. The word "to suffer" means "to allow": to allow faith to penetrate you is to suffer; it is to lose that arm's length that the journalist maintains so carefully.

September 29 Saturday
Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels


►1st Reading: Rev 12:7–12ab
War broke out in heaven with Michael and his angels battling with the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and lost their place in heaven. The great dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was thrown out. He was hurled down to earth, together with his angels. Then I heard a loud voice from heaven: Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of his anointed. For our brothers' accuser has been cast out, who accused them night and day, before God. They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they gave up their lives going to death. Rejoice, therefore, O you heavens and you who dwell in them; but woe to you, earth and sea, for the devil has come to you in anger knowing that he has but a little time.
►Gospel: John 1:47-51
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, "Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him." Nathanael asked him, "How do you know me?" And Jesus said to him, "Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you." Nathanael answered, "Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" But Jesus replied, "You believe because I said: 'I saw you under the fig tree.' But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
REFLECTION
H
ave you ever wondered what the "el" at the end of certain names means? Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Daniel, Ezechiel, etc. Sometimes the "el" is at the beginning: Elizabeth, Elijah, Elisha. It is a short for "Elohim," a Hebrew name for God. All these names have meanings of course. But even if your name is not one of these, you can still think of it as naming your relationship to God. The deepest layer of our identity is our relationship with God, and God calls us by our name. If you bring strength and support to another person, you are (in a sense) an angel to that person. Angel means "a messenger of God." What we write in our address books is one thing, but our deepest identity and our most secret name is our relationship to God.

September 30 Sunday
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Num 11:25–29
Yahweh came down in the cloud and spoke to him. He took some of the spirit that was upon him and put it on the seventy elders. Now when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But this they did not do again. Two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad, the name of the other Medad. However, the spirit came on them for they were among those who were registered though they had not gone out to the Tent. As they prophesied inside the camp, a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." Joshua, the son of Nun, who ministered to Moses from his youth said, "My lord Moses, stop them!" But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous on my behalf? Would that all Yahweh's people were prophets and that Yahweh would send his spirit upon them!"
►2nd Reading: Jas 5:1–6
So, now for what concerns the rich! Cry and weep for the misfortunes that are coming upon you. Your riches are rotting and your clothes eaten up by the moths. Your silver and gold have rusted and their rust grows into a witness against you. It will consume your flesh like fire, for having piled up riches in these the last days. You deceived the workers who harvested your fields but now their wages cry out to the heavens. The reapers' complaints have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You lived in luxury and pleasure in this world and felt happy while others were murdered. You have easily condemned and killed the innocent since they offered no resistance.
►Gospel: Mk 9:38–43, 45, 47–48
John said to him, "Master, we saw someone who drove out demons by calling upon your name, and we tried to forbid him because he does not belong to our group." Jesus answered, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in my name can soon after speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. If anyone gives you a drink of water because you belong to Christ and bear his name, truly, I say to you, he will not go without reward. If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble and sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck. If your hand makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand than with two hands to go to hell, to the fire that never goes out. And if your eye makes you fall into sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than, keeping both eyes, to be thrown into hell where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire never goes out.
REFLECTION
Read • Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48: More stonehard sayings of Jesus about discipleship.
Reflect
• Following Jesus is really challenging and never a chance to be complacent. Jesus confronts our mediocrity not only with his hard words but his example. Are we brave enough to follow Him?
Pray • Pray for costly grace and not cheap grace.
Act
• Are there things that hinder you from following Jesus radically? Try to overcome one today.


 

October 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31

October 1 Monday
26th Week in Ordinary Time
Thérèse of the Child Jesus


►1st Reading: Jb 1:6–22
One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan came with them. Yahweh asked Satan, "Where have you been?" Satan answered, "Going up and down the earth, roaming about." Yahweh asked again, "Have you noticed my servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil." But Satan returned the question, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. But stretch out your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse you to your face." Yahweh said to Satan, "Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself." So Satan left the presence of Yahweh. One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, a messenger came to Job and said, "Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another messenger came, "God's fire fell from the sky and burned all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you." He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, "Three raiding teams of Chal-deans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you." He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you." In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped, saying, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked shall I return. Yahweh gave, Yahweh has taken away. Blessed be his name!" In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.
►Gospel: Luke 9:46-50
One day the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he took a little child and stood him by his side. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. And listen: the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest." Then John spoke up, "Master, we saw someone who drove out demons by calling upon your name, and we tried to forbid him because he doesn't follow you with us." But Jesus said, "Don't forbid him. He who is not against you is for you."
REFLECTION
The disciples of Jesus, like all of us, had the same problem. They were "arguing about which of them was the most important." Jesus took a child and said, "you must become like children." Children were not romanticized in those days: a child was a nobody. You must become nobody; then there will be room in you for you—and for all the others.


October 2 Tuesday
Guardian Angels

►1st Reading: Job 3:1–3, 11–17, 20–23
At length it was Job who spoke, cursing the day of his birth. This is what he said: Cursed be the day I was born, and the night which whispered: A boy has been conceived. Why didn't I die at birth, or come from the womb without breath? Why the knees that received me, why the breasts that suckled me? For then I should have lain down asleep and been at rest with kings and rulers of the earth who built for themselves lonely tombs; or with princes who had gold to spare and houses stuffed with silver. Why was I not stillborn, like others who did not see the light of morn? There the trouble of the wicked ceases, there the weary find repose. Why is light given to the miserable, and life to the embittered? To those who long for death more than for hidden treasure? They rejoice at the sight of their end, they are happy upon reaching the grave. Why give light to a man whose path has vanished, whose ways God blocks at every side?
►Gospel: Lk 9:51–56
As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind to go to Jerusalem. He had sent ahead of him some messengers who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for him. But the people would not receive him because he was on his way to Jerusalem. Seeing this, James and John, his disciples said, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.
REFLECTION

We are effortlessly tolerant towards people who have no connection at all with us. But it is only the tolerance of indifference. How could we even think of offering this kind of tolerance to people we love? They deserve something better: they deserve the kind that is a form of love. Today, tolerance is a widely praised virtue; but it is utterly important to check that it is not just another form of heartless indifference – indifference to people, to ideas, to principles, to values, to everything – a kind of nihilism. Look into the person's eyes and ask, "Tell me what you care about, and I will tell you if I want your tolerance."

October 3 Wednesday
26th Week in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Job 9:1–12, 14–16
Then Job answered: Very well I know that it is so. But how can a mortal be just before God? If one were to contend with him, not once in a thousand times would he answer. His power is vast, his wisdom profound. Who has resisted him and come out unharmed? He moves mountains before they are aware; he overturns them in his rage. He makes the earth tremble and its pillars quake. He commands the sun, and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the skies and thread on the waves of the seas. He made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and every constellation. His wonders are past all reckoning, his miracles beyond all counting. He passes by, but I do not see him; he moves on, but I do not notice him. If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, "What are you doing?" How then can I answer him and find words to argue with him? If he does not answer when I am right, shall I plead with my judge for mercy? Even if I appealed and he answered, I do not believe that he would have heard.
►Gospel: Luke 9:57-62
As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another Jesus said, "Follow me." But he answered, "Let me go back now, for first I want to bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, leave them and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said to him, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family." And Jesus said to him, "Whoever has put his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God."
REFLECTION

To think about doing something and then to postpone it, is to separate thought from action, and to separate oneself from both. Planning is the great alibi. I feel I could not possibly do something without planning it; it would be most imprudent! So I begin to plan. Then as I go into the details I discover all sorts of uncertainties (of course! – because the future is always uncertain). So I have to plan some more, and more, and more…. All the while, what am I doing? Nothing! I am planning to do something but I am actually doing nothing. But if the house went on fire, I would not have to plan how to get out!

October 4 Thursday
26th Week in Ordinary Time
Francis of Assisi

►1st Reading: Job 19:21–27
Have pity my friends, have pity, for God's hand has struck me! Why do you hound me as God does? Will you never have enough of my flesh? Oh, that my words were written, or recorded on bronze with an iron tool, a chisel or engraved forever on rock! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he, the last, will take his stand on earth I will be there behind my skin, and in my flesh I shall see God. With my own eyes I shall see him – I and not another. How my heart yearns!
►Gospel: Luke 10:1-12
The Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place, where he himself was to go. And he said to them, "The harvest is rich, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. "Whatever house you enter, first bless them saying: 'Peace to this house.' If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house. "When they welcome you in any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them: 'The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.' "But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim: 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know and be sure that the kingdom of God had come to you.' I tell you that on the Judgment Day it will be better for Sodom than for this town."
REFLECTION

The Christian Gospel proclaims that the deepest wisdom is hidden in suffering. It is very paradoxical. Any deep teaching is full of paradox. The English word "suffer" originally meant "to allow." To suffer is to allow the pain of life to reach me. It is natural to try to avoid pain, but when it comes my way, I should let it reach me. Otherwise I will develop a hard outer layer of insensitivity. When we see people who have done this we are inclined to say: suffering has made them hard and bitter. But it has not. It is their rejection of suffering that has done so. Life does not make people hard; it is the denial of life that makes them hard.

October 5 Friday
26th Week in Ordinary Time
Bruno / Bl. Marie-Rose Durocher

►1st Reading: Job 38:1, 12–21; 40:3–5
Then Yahweh answered Job out of the storm: Have you ever commanded the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might grasp the earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it, when it takes a clay color and changes its tint like a garment; when the wicked are denied their own light, and their proud arm is shattered? Have you journeyed to where the sea begins or walked in its deepest recesses? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of Shadow? Have you an idea of the breadth of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. Where is the way to the home of light, and where does darkness dwell? Can you take them to their own regions, and set them on their homeward paths? You know, for you were born before them, and great is the number of your years! Job said: How can I reply, unworthy as I am! All I can do is put my hand over my mouth. I have spoken once, now I will not answer; oh, yes, twice, but I will do no further.
►Gospel: Luke 10:13-16
Jesus said, "Alas for you Chorazin! Alas for you Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance. Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better than for you on the Judgment Day. And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead. "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects the one who sent me."
REFLECTION
To rephrase a little: Anyone who listens to your words listens to my words, and anyone who listens to my words listens to the words of the one who sent me. To know the real power of words, think of the things that any of your loved ones said to you before dying. Those words are said in a definitive way and they can never be unsaid for all time; they are fixed in amber. They seem more than words, they are almost like solid things, they have weight and shape and fixed position. The person who uttered them is dead but the words still live and have power to move us deeply. In this light, think of the Eucharist.

October 6 Saturday
26th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Job 42:1–3, 5–6, 12–17
This was the answer Job gave to Yahweh: I know that you are all powerful; no plan of yours can be thwarted. I spoke of things I did not understand, too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I retract all I have said, and in dust and ashes I repent. Yahweh blessed Job's latter days much more than his earlier ones. He came to own fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-donkeys. He was also blessed with seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Dove, the second Cinnamon, and the third Bottle of Perfume. Nowhere in the land was there found any woman who could compare in beauty with Job's daughters. Their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. He died old and full of years.
►Gospel: Luke 10:17-24
The seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, "Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on your name." Then Jesus replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, don't rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven." At that time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit and said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to the little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. I have been given all things by my Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them privately, "Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see but did not, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."
REFLECTION

Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. "Love, joy, peace, patience, understanding, kindness and fidelity. Gentleness and self control" (Gal 5:22-23). Happiness is always caused. There is a natural reason for it; but joy is uncaused. It comes straight from God. Happiness is for cats and dogs; joy is for human beings!

October 7 Sunday
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Gen 2:18–24
Yahweh God said, "It is not good for Man to be alone; I will give him a helper who will be like him." Then Yahweh God formed from the earth all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air and brought them to Man to see what he would call them; and whatever Man called every living creature, that was its name. So Man gave names to all the cattle, the birds of the air and to every beast of the field. But he did not find among them a helper like himself. Then Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to come over Man and he fell asleep. He took one of his ribs and filled its place with flesh. The rib which Yahweh God had taken from Man he formed into a woman and brought her to the man. The man then said, "Now this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken from man." That is why man leaves his father and mother and is attached to his wife, and with her becomes one flesh.
►2nd Reading: Heb 2:9–11
Jesus who suffered death and for a little while was placed lower than the angels has been crowned with honor and glory. For the merciful plan of God demanded that he experience death on behalf of everyone. God, from whom all come and by whom all things exist, wanted to bring many children to glory, and he thought it fitting to make perfect through suffering the initiator of their salvation. So he who gives and those who receive holiness are one. He himself is not ashamed of calling us brothers and sisters.
►Gospel: Mk 10:2–16
Some Pharisees came and put him to the test with this question, "Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?" He replied, "What law did Moses give you?" They answered, "Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce." Then Jesus said to them, "Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined." When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked him about this and he told them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery." People were bringing their little children to him to have him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed it, he was very angry and said, "Let the children come to me and don't stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he took the children in his arms and laying his hands on them, blessed them.
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 10: 2-16: Jesus teaches on divorce and allows no exception.
Reflect:
• Why does Matthew (see Mt 5:32; 19:9), unlike Mark, have an exception with regard to divorce?
Pray:
• Pray for fidelity of married couples especially those undergoing difficulties.
Act:
• Seek guidance to understand the church's position on divorce and annulments.

October 8 Monday
27th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Gal 1:6–12
I am surprised at how quickly you have abandoned God who called you according to the grace of Christ, and have gone to another gospel. Indeed, there is no other gospel, but some people who are sowing confusion among you want to turn the Gospel of Christ upside down. But even if we ourselves were giving you another gospel different from the one we preached to you, or if it were an angel from heaven, I would say: let God's curse be on him! As I have said I now say again: if anyone preaches the Gospel in a way other than you received it, fire that one. Are we to please humans or obey God? Do you think that I try to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel we preached to you is not a human message, nor did I receive it from anyone, I was not taught of it but it came to me as a revelation from Christ Jesus.
►Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
A teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, "Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?" Jesus replied, "What is written in the Scripture? How do you understand it?" The man answered, "It is written: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus replied, "What a good answer! Do this and you shall live." The man wanted to keep up appearances, so he replied, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus then said, "There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. "It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, too, was going that way, and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him and treated his wounds with oil and wine and wrapped them with bandages. Then he put him on his own mount and brought him to an inn where he took care of him. The next day he had to set off, but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper and told him: 'Take care of him and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I come back.'" Jesus then asked, "Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The teacher of the Law answered, "The one who had mercy on him." And Jesus said, "Go then and do the same."
REFLECTION
"
Who is my neighbor?" Some Rabbis restricted it to fellow Jews; others gave a somewhat wider definition. But Jesus turned the question inside out. He did not answer the question, Who is my Neighbor? but a different question, Who should I be a neighbor to? The first question is about other people and how they are to be classified; the second question is about myself and how I should behave towards other people.

October 9 Tuesday
27th Week in Ordinary Time
Denis and Companions / John Leonardi


►1st Reading: Gal 1:13–24
You have heard of my previous activity in the Jewish community; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it. For I was more devoted to the Jewish religion than many fellow Jews of my age, and I defended the traditions of my ancestors more fanatically. But one day God called me out of his great love, he who had chosen me from my mother's womb; and he was pleased to reveal in me his Son, that I might make him known among the pagan nations. Then I did not seek human advice nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me. I immediately went to Arabia, and from there I returned again to Damascus. Later, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord's brother. On writing this to you, I affirm before God that I am not lying. After that I went to Syria and Cilicia. The churches of Christ in Judea did not know me personally; they had only heard of me: "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he tried to uproot." And they praised God because of me.
►Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he entered a village and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister named Mary who sat down at the Lord's feet to listen to his words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving and finally she said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the serving?" But the Lord answered, "Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her."
REFLECTION

Martha had the strengths and weaknesses of an active person, and Mary had those of a contemplative person. Martha was worried, troubled, and complaining, but she was also the first on the scene when there was an emergency. Mary was quiet and reflective, but she may (on one occasion) have loved her interior life more than she loved the Lord. Both were unbalanced in that sense. That is why they needed each other. Each made up for the unbalance of the other. No one needs to have all the gifts.

October 10 Wednesday
27th Week in Ordinary Time
►1st Reading: Gal 2:1–2, 7–14
After fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and Titus came with us. Following a revelation, I went to lay before them the Gospel that I am preaching to the pagans. I had a private meeting with the leaders—lest I should be working or have worked in a wrong way. They recognized that I have been entrusted to give the Good News to the pagan nations, just as Peter has been entrusted to give it to the Jews. In the same way that God made Peter the apostle of the Jews, he made me the apostle of the pagans. James, Cephas and John acknowledged the graces God gave me. Those men who were regarded as the pillars of the Church stretched out their hand to me and Barnabas as a sign of fellowship; we would go to the pagans and they to the Jews. We should only keep in mind the poor among them. I have taken care to do this. When later Cephas came to Antioch, I confronted him since he deserved to be blamed. Before some of James' people arrived, he used to eat with non-Jewish people. But when they arrived, he withdrew and did not mingle anymore with them, for fear of the Jewish group. The rest of the Jews followed him in this pretense, and even Barnabas was part of this insincerity. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas publicly: If you who are Jewish agreed to live like the non-Jews, setting aside the Jewish customs, why do you now compel the non-Jews to live like Jews?
►Gospel: Luke 11:1-4
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." And Jesus said to them, "When you pray, say this: Father, hallowed be your name, may your kingdom come, give us each day the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong, and do not bring us to the test."
REFLECTION

It seems to us a strange request: teach us to pray. Jews prayed every since childhood. Why would they ask him now to teach them to pray? The meaning of it is as follows: they were asking him for a distinctive prayer as his disciples. John's disciples had a special kind of prayer, but Jesus' disciples apparently did not. He taught them the Our Father. This makes it very special: it is not just any prayer, it is distinctively Christian prayer.

October 11 Thursday
27th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Gal 3:1–5
How foolish you are, Galatians! How could they bewitch you after Jesus Christ has been presented to you as crucified? I shall ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by the practice of the Law, or by believing the message? How can you be such fools: you begin with the Spirit and end up with the flesh! So you have experienced all this in vain! Would that it were not so! Did God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you, because of your observance of the Law or because you believed in his message?
►Gospel: Luke 11:5-13
Jesus said to his disciples, "Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says: 'Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is traveling has just arrived and I have nothing to offer him.' Maybe your friend will answer from inside: 'Don't bother me now; the door is locked and my children and I are in bed, so I can't get up and give you anything.' But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. "And so I say to you, 'Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened. "If your child asks for a fish, will you give a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give a scorpion? Even you evil people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more then will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those who ask him!"
REFLECTION

When we pray to our Father, there is, as they say, "no sting in the tail," no trick, no hidden snag. When a child asks for an egg, the father does not give a scorpion. What is a scorpion but a sting in the tail? Ask, Jesus said, and it will be given to you. But very often, it is not given, isn't this true? You pray that your friend will recover from illness but he or she dies. What does this promise amount to, then, "Ask and you will receive?" We trust that though we have not received the very thing we asked for, we have received something, and our Father is not a stingy giver.

October 12 Friday
27th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Gal 3:7–14
Understand then that those who follow the way of faith are sons and daughters of Abraham. The Scriptures foresaw that by the way of faith, God would give true righteousness to the non-Jewish nations. For God's promise to Abraham was this: In you shall all the nations be blessed. So now those who take the way of faith receive the same blessing as Abraham who believed; but those who rely on the practice of the Law are under a curse, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who does not always fulfill everything written in the Law. It is plainly written that no one becomes righteous, in God's way, by the Law: by faith the righteous shall live. Yet the Law gives no place to faith, for according to it: the one who fulfills the commandments shall have life through them. Now Christ rescued us from the curse of the Law by becoming cursed himself for our sake, as it is written: there is a curse on everyone who is hanged on a tree. So the blessing granted to Abraham reached the pagan nations in and with Christ, and we received the promised Spirit through faith.
►Gospel: Luke 11:15-26
As Jesus was casting out a devil some of the people said, "He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons." So others wanted to put him to the test by asking him for a heavenly sign. But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your fellow members drive out demons? They will be your judges, then. "But suppose I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you? As long as the strong and armed man guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger one attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on and disposes of his spoils. "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters. "When the evil spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through dry lands looking for a resting place. And finding none, it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' When it comes, it finds the house swept and everything in order. Then it goes to fetch seven other spirits even worse than itself. They move in and settle there, so that the last state of that person is worse than the first."
REFLECTION

Jesus did not say, "I came that you may be able to cope, and cope successfully." He said, "I came that you may have life and have it more abundantly." It may seem an ungenerous thing to say, but we have to do more than solve our problems; we have to find the meaning of life. We are not simple mechanisms like machines; we are mysterious beings with minds open to unfathomable depths.

October 13 Saturday 27th Week in Ordinary Time
►1st Reading: Gal 3:22–29
But the written Law has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ, would be accomplished in those who believe. Before the time of faith had come, the Law confined us and kept us in custody until the time in which faith would show up. The Law then was serving as a slave to look after us until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. With the coming of faith, we are no longer submitted to this guidance. Now, in Christ Jesus, all of you are sons and daughters of God through faith. All of you who were given to Christ through baptism, have put on Christ. Here there is no longer any difference between Jew or Greek, or between slave or freed, or between man and woman: but all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Christ, you are of Abraham's race and you are to inherit God's promise.
►Gospel: Luke 11:27-28
As Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to him, "Blessed is the one who bore you and nursed you!" Jesus replied, "Surely blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it as well."
REFLECTION
If you are to hear, there must be no loud interfering noises. This is true of outer hearing, but even more true of inner. If you are to hear with the heart there has to be a great inner silence; a silence of the emotions, the passions, the mind, the memory, the will. To hear the Word of God, one has to become silence itself. This is more difficult for us today; we have become experts in a dubious art: the art of half-listening.

October 14 Sunday
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Wis 7:7–11
I prayed and understanding was given to me; I asked earnestly and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepters and thrones and I considered wealth as nothing compared with her. I preferred her to any jewel of inestimable value, since gold beside her is nothing but a few grains of sand, and silver but mud. I loved her more than wealth and beauty and even preferred her to light, because her radiance never dies. She brought with her all other good things, untold riches in her hands.
►2nd Reading: Heb 4:12–13
The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart. All creation is transparent to Him; everything is uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we render account.
►Gospel: Mk 10:17–30
Just as Jesus was setting out on his journey again, a man ran up, knelt before him and asked, "Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?" Jesus answered, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honor your father and mother." The man replied, "I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood." Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and he said, "For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me." On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful for he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were more astonished than ever and wondered, "Who, then, can be saved?" Jesus looked steadily at them and said, "For humans it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God." Peter spoke up and said, "We have given up everything to follow you." Jesus answered, "Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you: even in the midst of persecution he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time and in the world to come eternal life."
REFLECTION

Read
• Mk 10:17-30: Jesus loves the rich young man but too many possessions prevent him from following Jesus. The image of the camel demonstrates the problem with riches. But it is important to remember that all things are possible with God.
Reflect:
• What are the problems with riches and following Jesus? Have you given up anything to follow Jesus?
Pray:
• The true follower of Jesus lives without great attachment to things. Pray for a sense of detachment. Pray that you may be grateful for and content with what you have.
Act: • Be generous with everything you possess.

October 15 Monday
28th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Gal 4:22–24, 26–27, 31–5:1
It says that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by the free woman, his wife. The son of the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of God's promise. Here we have an allegory and the figures of two covenants. The first is the one from Mount Sinai, represented through Hagar: her children have slavery for their lot. But the Jerusalem above, who is our mother, is free. And Scripture says of her: Rejoice, barren woman without children, break forth in shouts of joy, you who do not know the pains of childbirth, for many shall be the children of the forsaken mother, more than of the married woman. Brethren, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Christ freed us to make us really free. So remain firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
►Gospel: Luke 11:29-32
As the crowd increased, Jesus began to speak in this way, "People of the present time are evil people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation. The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah's preaching made them turn from their sins, and here there is greater than Jonah."
REFLECTION

If in prayer we never hear ourselves praising the most unlikely persons, it is likely that we are not listening to God at all but only to our prejudices. Simone Weil spoke of "the arsenal of lies" that the ego arranges around itself, to defend itself from the truth. We have to call the bluff of everyone of them, for it is well known that we are our own greatest deceivers. When we have called their bluff we will see clearly that much of what we call loyalty to this group or that is only a larger egotism.

October 16 Tuesday
28th Week in Ordinary Time
Hedwig / Margaret Mary Alacoque

►1st Reading: Gal 5:1–6
Christ freed us to make us really free. So remain firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. I, Paul, say this to you: if you receive circumcision, Christ can no longer help you. Once more I say to whoever receives circumcision: you are now bound to keep the whole Law. All you who pretend to become righteous through the observance of the Law have separated yourselves from Christ and have fallen away from grace. As for us, through the Spirit and faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. In Christ Jesus it is irrelevant whether we be circumcised or not; what matters is faith working through love.
►Gospel: Luke 11:37-41
As Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to have a meal with him. So he went and sat at table. The Pharisee then wondered why Jesus did not first wash his hands before dinner. But the Lord said to him, "So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil. Fools! He who made the outside, also made the inside. But according to you, by the mere giving of alms everything is made clean."
REFLECTION

When we cannot impress others by our qualities, we try other ways of impressing them, and so we enter a world of lies and pretence: we try to distract them from our real condition by weaving some colorful lies. We end by believing in these lies ourselves: by not knowing the real from the fake, the inner from the outer. Then, the more we concentrate on the outside, the more false becomes the inside. The stuff that went into the making of the Pharisees is universally available.

October 17 Wednesday
28th Week in Ordinary Time
Ignatius of Antioch

►1st Reading: Gal 5:18–25
But when you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law. You know what comes from the flesh: fornication, impurity and shamelessness, idol worship and sorcery, hatred, jealousy and violence, anger, ambition, division, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I again say to you what I have already said: those who do these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy and peace, patience, understanding of others, kindness and fidelity, gentleness and self-control. For such things there is no Law or punishment. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its vices and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us live in a spiritual way.
►Gospel: Luke 11:42-46
Jesus said, "A curse is on you, Pharisees; for the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and the other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. This ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other. A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people don't notice them and make themselves unclean by stepping on them." Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, "Master, when you speak like this, you insult us, too." And Jesus answered, "A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves don't move a finger to help them."
REFLECTION

In the absence of love, everything goes wrong. This has always been the message of the world's greatest teachers. But love can be extremely arduous, and—like anger—hard to pitch right. Too often when the word-package is opened, there is nothing in it, or there are foul substitutes: lust, self-flattery, the will to power…. It must be the study and struggle of a lifetime to learn how to love.

October 18 Thursday Luke, Evangelist
►1st Reading: 2 Tim 4:10–17b
You must know that Demas has deserted me for the love of this world: he returned to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke remains with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful helper in my work. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. Bring with you the cloak I left at Troas, in Carpos' house and also the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander the metalworker has caused me great harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. Distrust him for he has been very much opposed to our preaching. At my first hearing in court no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength to proclaim the Word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth.
►Gospel: Luke 10:1-9
The Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place, where he himself was to go. And he said to them, "The harvest is rich, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. "Whatever house you enter, first bless them saying: 'Peace to this house.' If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house. "When they welcome you in any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them: 'The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'"
REFLECTION

"There is a legend that Luke was a skilled painter… Certainly he had an eye for vivid things. It would not be far wrong to say that the third gospel is the best life of Christ ever written," says a commentator. Luke was a Gentile. In fact the only non-Jewish writer in the New Testament. It is also clear that he wrote mainly for Gentiles. Luke's gospel is especially the gospel of prayer: he shows Jesus very often at prayer. He gives a very special place to women. It is above all a gospel of praise; he uses the expression "praising God" more often than all the others put together. It was he who gave us those three great canticles: the Benedictus, the Magnificat, and the Nunc Dimittis.

October 19 Friday
28th Week in Ordinary Time
Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf
and companions / Paul of the Cross

►1st Reading: Eph 1:11–14
By a decree of Him who disposes all things according to his own plan and decision we, the Jews, have been chosen and called and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of his glory. You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance as a people of God, for the praise of his glory.
►Gospel: Luke 12:1-7
Such a numerous crowd had gathered that they crushed one another. Then Jesus spoke to his disciples in this way, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered that will not be uncovered, or hidden that will not be made known. Whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places, will be proclaimed from the housetops. "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who put to death the body and after that can do no more. But I will tell you whom to fear: Fear the One who after killing you is able to throw you into hell. This one you must fear. Don't you get five sparrows for two pennies? Yet not one of them has been forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have been numbered. So do not fear: are you not worth more than a flock of sparrows?"
REFLECTION

I was alone at the bedside of a dying man during his last hour. Suddenly he began to talk about his life. He talked and talked compulsively, as if making up for lost time. At the end, he said, "I never did any harm to anyone in my life." I had known him most of my life, so I knew that this was perfectly true. Then he added: "And I never did much good either." It was a cruel assessment, and on his face I saw a profound regret. "Everything now hidden will be made clear," said Jesus. "Every hair on your head has been counted." We are known through and through by God who cares for us more than we dare to believe. God knows all our sins and failures and still loves us. Then, what is all the secrecy for?

October 20 Saturday
28th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Eph 1:15–23
I have been told of your faith and your affection towards all the believers, so I always give thanks to God, remembering you in my prayers. May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of Glory, reveal himself to you and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know him. May he enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God. May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for his saints; may you understand with what extraordinary power he acts in favor of us who believe. He revealed his almighty power in Christ when he raised him from the dead and had him sit at his right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world but in the world to come as well. Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set him above all things, as head of the Church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
►Gospel: Luke 12:8-12
Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But the one who denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. "There will be pardon for the one who criticizes the Son of Man, but there will be no pardon for the one who slanders the Holy Spirit. "When you are brought before the synagogues, governors and rulers, don't worry about how you will defend yourself or what to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you have to say."
REFLECTION

Matthew and Mark say that Jesus spoke about this "sin against the Holy Spirit" immediately after his miracles had been ascribed to the power of Beelzebul rather than the power of God (Mt 12:32; Mk 3:29). The Scribes and Pharisees could not look at God's work and call it the devil's. Why is it said that the sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven? Is God's mercy limited? No, but the road to that mercy is destroyed. A map tat calls north south can only lead you astray.

October 21 Sunday
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Is 53:10–11
Yet it was the will of Yahweh to crush him with grief. When he makes himself an offering for sin, he will have a long life and see his descendants. Through him the will of Yahweh is done. For the anguish he suffered, he will see the light and obtain perfect knowledge. My just servant will justify the multitude; he will bear and take away their guilt.
►2nd Reading: Heb 4:14–16
We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our high priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for he was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach God, the giver of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through his favor, help in due time.
►Gospel: Mk 10:35–45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, "Master, we want you to grant us what we are going to ask of you." And he said, "What do you want me to do for you?" They answered, "Grant us to sit one at your right and one at your left when you come in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You don't know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized in the way I am baptized?" They answered, "We can." And Jesus told them, "The cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptized in the way I am baptized. But to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to grant. It has been prepared for others." On hearing this, the other ten were angry with James and John; Jesus then called them to him and said, "As you know, the so-called rulers of the nations act as tyrants and their great ones oppress them. But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you shall make himself slave of all. Think of the Son of Man who has not come to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many."
REFLECTION
Read • Mark 10:35–45: Again the disciples do not understand and Jesus continues his teaching on discipleship.
Reflect: • The teaching on discipleship involves authority and power. What does Jesus have to say about authority and power?
Pray:
• Pray that you may face life's obstacles with tranquility and acceptance.
Act:
• When you get out of bed in the morning, be grateful for the day and do not complain.

October 22 Monday
29th Week in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Eph 2:1–10
You were dead through the faults and sins. Once you lived through them according to this world and followed the Sovereign Ruler who reigns between heaven and earth and who goes on working in those who resist the faith. All of us belonged to them at one time and we followed human greed; we obeyed the urges of our human nature and consented to its desires. By ourselves, we went straight to the judgment like the rest of humankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, revealed his immense love. As we were dead through our sins, he gave us life with Christ. By grace you have been saved! And he raised us to life with Christ, giving us a place with him in heaven. In showing us such kindness in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal and unfold in the coming ages the extraordinary riches of his grace. By the grace of God you have been saved through faith. This has not come from you: it is God's gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are is God's work. He has created us in Christ Jesus for the good works he has prepared that we should devote ourselves to them.
►Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, "Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance." He replied, "My friend, who has appointed me as your judge or your attorney?" Then Jesus said to the people, "Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life." And Jesus continued with this story, "There was a rich man and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought: 'What shall I do? For I am short of room to store my harvest.' So this is what he planned: 'I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I may say to myself: My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.' But God said to him: 'You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you; tell me who shall get all you have put aside?' This is the lot of the one who stores up riches instead of amassing for God."
REFLECTION

Greed is a bottomless well and nothing will ever fill it. Many misers even live very poor lives – in order to die rich! A tycoon stipulated in his will that he wanted to be buried in his limousine, seated at the wheel, with a Havana cigar in his mouth. It was done. As the crane was lowering limousine into the grave, one of the bystanders said to his friend, "Man, some people really know how to live!"

October 23 Tuesday
29th Week in Ordinary Time
John of Capistrano

►1st Reading: Eph 2:12–22
At that time you were without Christ, you did not belong to the community of Israel; the covenants of God and his promises were not for you; you had no hope and were without God in this world. But now, in Christ Jesus and by his blood, you who were once far off have come near. For Christ is our peace, he who has made the two peoples one, destroying in his own flesh the wall—the hatred—which separated us. He abolished the Law with its commands and precepts. He made peace in uniting the two peoples in him, creating out of the two one New Man. He destroyed hatred and reconciled us both to God through the cross, making the two one body. He came to proclaim peace; peace to you who were far off, peace to the Jews who were near. Through him we—the two peoples—approach the Father in one Spirit. Now you are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the holy people: you are of the household of God. You are the house whose foundations are the apostles and prophets, and whose cornerstone is Christ Jesus. In him the whole structure is joined together and rises to be a holy temple in the Lord. In him you too are being built to become the spiritual sanctuary of God.
►Gospel: Luke 12:35-38
Jesus said to his disciples, "Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes. Truly, I tell you, he will put on an apron and have them sit at table and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!"
REFLECTION

We say we keep some people "in our heart." Is it a place, then? What kind of place would it be? Very different, I imagine from other places. How hard it is to understand the heart! When we fully understand something we can go to sleep. But when we do not understand, we have to stay awake: anything could happen! If we understood the heart's folly we would lose all sense of wonder; we could ignore the depths of everything. But instead we have to be on the alert! "Be ready, dressed for service," today's reading tells us, "and keep your lamps lit."

October 24 Wednesday
29th Week in Ordinary Time
Anthony Mary Claret


►1st Reading: Eph 3:2–12
You may have heard of the graces God bestowed on me for your sake. By a revelation he gave me the knowledge of his mysterious design, as I have explained in a few words. On reading them you will have some idea of how I understand the mystery of Christ. This mystery was not made known to past generations but only now, through revelations given to holy apostles and prophets. Now the non-Jewish people share the Inheritance; in Christ Jesus the non-Jews are incorporated and are to enjoy the Promise. This is the Good News of which I have become minister by a gift of God, a grace he gave me, when his power worked in me. This grace was given to me, the least among all the holy ones: to announce to the pagan nations the immeasurable riches of Christ and to make clear to all how the mystery, hidden from the beginning in God, the Creator of all things, is to be fulfilled. Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover through the Church the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled which God designed from the beginning in Christ Jesus, our Lord. In him we receive boldness and confidence to approach God.
►Gospel: Luke 12:39-48
Jesus said to his disciples, "Pay attention to this: If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect." Peter said, "Lord, did you tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?" And the Lord replied, "Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward whom the master sets over his other servants to give them food rations at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master on coming home finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property. "But it may be that the steward thinks: 'My Lord delays in coming,' and he begins to abuse the menservants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect him and at an hour he doesn't know. He will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful. "The servant who knew his master's will, but did not prepare to do what his master wanted, will be punished with sound blows; but the one who did what deserved a punishment without knowing it shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one entrusted with more."
REFLECTION
The "Day of the Lord" is both the best and the worst of days. Now that we no longer expect an imminent return of the Lord, as Paul did, we can regard each moment as a sacrament of that moment; each day is the 'Day of the Lord'; each moment is a 'moment of the Lord'. If we meet the moment directly, simply, openly – in the way a child does – it brings a blessing, even if sometimes a painful one. But if we flee from it – into drugs, T.V., dissipation – our life is frittered away; and that is the greatest tragedy.

October 25 Thursday
29th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Eph 3:14–21
And now I kneel in the presence of the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth has received its name. May he strengthen in you the inner self through his Spirit, according to the riches of his glory; may Christ dwell in your hearts through faith; may you be rooted and founded in love. All of this so that you may understand with all the holy ones the width, the length, the height and the depth—in a word, that you may know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled and reach the fullness of God. Glory to God who shows his power in us and can do much more than we could ask or imagine; glory to him in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all generations for ever and ever. Amen.
►Gospel: Luke 12:49-53
Jesus said to his disciples, "I have come to bring fire upon the earth and how I wish it were already kindled; but I have a baptism to undergo and what anguish I feel until it is over! "Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided; three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
REFLECTION

"There is a baptism I must still receive…" said Jesus. We think of nothing but the sacrament of baptism when we hear this word; but the word 'baptize' (Greek: baptizein) means to immerse'. He is to be immersed in suffering. And he was; he plunged to its very depths, and it did not destroy him. With his dying breath he forgave the poor who were destroying his body. It is the different attitudes we take to suffering that divide us most into different species.

October 26 Friday
29th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Eph 4:1–6
Therefore I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you the unity of Spirit through bonds of peace. Let there be one body and one spirit, for God, in calling you, gave the same Spirit to all. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God, the Father of all, who is above all and works through all and is in all.
►Gospel: Luke 12:54-59
Jesus said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once: 'A shower is coming.' And so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say: 'It will be hot'; and so it is. You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you don't understand the present times. "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jailer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny."
REFLECTION

Older people were able to forecast the weather with great accuracy. They would look at the sky and the atmosphere, at the way the birds were flying, and at many other things. But now when you ask, people say, "The forecast says…" or "I did not hear the forecast," which means that they rely on a radio or television a hundred miles away to tell them about their local weather. More and more we hand over our lives to machines and systems; in the end we will know nothing directly, everything will be second-hand knowledge. How will we learn to know the signs of the times if (unlike the people Jesus confronted) we do not even know how to read the weather?

October 27 Saturday
29th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Eph 4:7–16
But to each of us divine grace is given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said: When he ascended to the heights, he brought captives and gave his gifts to people. He ascended, what does it mean but that he had also descended to the lower parts of the world? He himself who went down, then ascended far above all the heavens to fill all things. As for his gifts, to some he gave to be apostles, to others prophets, or even evangelists, or pastors and teachers. So he prepared those who belong to him for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity and sharing the fullness of Christ. Then no longer shall we be like children tossed about by any wave or wind of doctrine, and deceived by the cunning of people who drag them along into error. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we shall grow in every way towards him who is the head, Christ. From him comes the growth of the whole body to which a network of joints gives order and cohesion, taking into account and making use of the function of each one. So the body builds itself in love.
►Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
Some persons told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple: Pilate had Galileans killed and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus replied, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this? I tell you: no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did. "And those eighteen persons in Siloah who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you: no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did." And Jesus continued with this story, "A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener: 'Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it use up the ground?' The gardener replied: 'Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertilizer; and perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it doesn't, you can cut it down."
REFLECTION

What is the answer to the problem of evil? For me, there is no answer to the problem of evil, but there is a response. The incarnation is God's response to human suffering. Unable to stay at a distance form human suffering, like a mother whose child is sick, God took on our human nature to be with us. When you visit a friend in the hospital you are not expected to bring answers with you, or explanations or theories; these in fact would infuriate a sick person. Instead you bring yourself, and that is your response to suffering. In Christ, God goes beyond this by plunging into human suffering and death. The Cross of Christ is the ultimate response to evil and suffering.

October 28 Sunday
29th Week in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Jer 31:7–9
For Yahweh says this: Shout with joy for Jacob; rejoice for the greatest of nations. Proclaim your praise and say: "Yahweh has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!" Look, I will bring them back from the land of the north, gather them from the ends of the earth, the lame and the blind, mothers and women in labor—a great throng will return. They went away weeping, they will return in joy. I will lead them by the streams of water, on a level path so that no one will stumble, for I am Israel's father and Ephraim is my firstborn.
►2nd Reading: Heb 5:1–6
Every High Priest is taken from among mortals and appointed to be their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. He is able to understand the ignorant and erring for he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he is bound to offer sacrifices for his sins as well as for the sins of the people. Besides, one does not presume to take this dignity, but takes it only when called by God, as Aaron was. Nor did Christ become High Priest in taking upon himself this dignity, but it was given to him by the One who says: You are my son, I have begotten you today. And in another place: You are a priest forever in the priestly order of Melchizedek.
►Gospel: Mk 10:46–52
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to call out, "Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!" Many people scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man saying, "Take heart. Get up, he is calling you." He immediately threw aside his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said, "Master, let me see again!" And Jesus said to him, "Go your way, your faith has made you well." And immediately he could see, and he followed Jesus along the road.
REFLECTION
Read
• Mark 10: 46-52: Jesus heals Bartimeaus, a blind man, because of his faith.
Reflect:
• Do you have the same faith in Jesus like Bartimeaus to have the confidence to ask for healing? What is it that you are truly yearning for and have persistently asked Jesus to grant you this?
Pray:
• Pray for a stronger faith so that you will be able to see wholeness and healing in your life.
Act:
• If life gives you an opportunity to learn, respond quickly.

October 29 Monday
30th Week in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Eph 4:32—5:8
Be good and understanding, mutually forgiving one another as God forgave you in Christ. As most beloved children of  God, strive to imitate him. Follow the way of love, the example of Christ who loved you. He gave himself up for us and became the offering and sacrificial victim whose fragrance rises to God. And since you are holy, there must not be among you even a hint of sexual immorality or greed, or any kind of impurity: these should not be named among you. So too for scandalous words, nonsense and foolishness, which are not fitting; instead offer thanksgiving to God. Know this: no depraved, impure or covetous person who serves the god 'Money' shall have part in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for these are the sins which God is about to condemn in people who do not obey. Do not associate with such people. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Behave as children of light.
►Gospel: Luke 13:10-17
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath and a crippled woman was there. An evil spirit had kept her bent for eighteen years so that she could not straighten up at all. On seeing her, Jesus called her and said, "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity." Then he laid his hands upon her and immediately she was made straight and praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue was indignant because Jesus had performed this healing on the Sabbath day and he said to the people, "There are six days in which to work; come on those days to be healed and not on the Sabbath." But the Lord replied, "You hypocrites! Everyone of you unties his ox or his donkey on the Sabbath and leads it out of the barn to give it water. And here you have a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound for eighteen years. Should she not be freed from her bonds on the Sabbath?" When Jesus said this, all his opponents felt ashamed. But the people rejoiced at the many wonders that happened through him.
REFLECTION

Jesus heals the crippled woman without being asked. Sometimes we feel we have to grovel when we ask God for something; we imagine (at some level in our minds) that God wants us to be sniveling menials! But the woman in the story had been groveling for eighteen years until she met Jesus! It was he who enabled her to stand up straight with the unique dignity of a human being. How dramatic a moment! In what area of your life are you prostrate? In what area can you only see the ground, and a small patch of it at that? Just come near: he is even more eager for your freedom and dignity than you are.

October 30 Tuesday
30th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Eph 5:21–33
Let all kinds of submission to one another become obedience to Christ. So wives to their husbands: as to the Lord. The husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, of whom he is also the Savior. And as the Church submits to Christ, so let a wife submit in everything to her husband. As for you, husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. He washed her and made her holy by baptism in the Word. As he wanted a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless, he himself had to prepare and present her to himself. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. And no one has ever hated his body; he feeds and takes care of it. That is just what Christ does for the Church, because we are members of his body. Scripture says: Because of this a man shall leave his father and mother to be united with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a very great mystery, and I refer to Christ and the Church. As for you, let each one love his wife as himself, and let the wife respect her husband.
►Gospel: Luke 13:18-21
Jesus continued speaking, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? Imagine a person who has taken a mustard seed and planted it in the garden. The seed has grown and become like a small tree, so that the birds of the air shelter in its branches." And Jesus said again, "What is the kingdom of God like? Imagine a woman who has taken yeast and hidden it in three measures of flour until it is all leavened."
REFLECTION

The images (mustard seed, yeast) speak of littleness, and not of immensity. Everything has tiny beginnings—that is to say, everything real. In the world of advertising and entertainment, things have to create a big splash to get our attention. It is an indication of their unreality. But real things grow from tiny seeds. To be reconciled to tiny beginnings, small steps, unremarkable moments seems to be the way to go. "A day of little things, no doubt, but who would dare despite it?" (Zech 4:10).

October 31 Wednesday
30th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Eph 6:1–9
Children, obey your parents for this is right: Honor your father and your mother. And this is the first commandment that has promise: that you may be happy and enjoy long life in the land. And you, fathers, do not make rebels of your children, but educate them by correction and instruction which the Lord may inspire. Servants, obey your masters of this world with fear and respect, with simplicity of heart, as if obeying Christ. Do not serve only when you are watched or in order to please others, but become servants of Christ who do God's will with all your heart. Work willingly, for the Lord and not for humans, mindful that the good each one has done, whether servant or free, will be rewarded by the Lord. And you, masters, deal with your servants in the same way, and do not threaten them, since you know that they and you have the same Lord who is in heaven, and he treats all fairly.
►Gospel: Luke 13:22-30
Jesus went through towns and villages teaching and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, is it true that few people will be saved?" And Jesus answered, "Do your best to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you will stand outside; then you will knock at the door calling: 'Lord, open to us.' But he will say to you: 'I do not know where you come from.' "Then you will say: 'We ate and drank with you and you taught in our streets!' "But he will reply: 'I don't know where you come from. Away from me all you workers of evil.' "You will weep and grind your teeth when you see Abraham and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves left outside. Others will sit at table in the kingdom of God, people coming from east and west, from north and south. Some who are among the last will be the first, and others who were first will be last!"
REFLECTION

Curiosity makes us different from the animals, open somehow. But we limit ourselves if we are never more than curious about anything, if we try to keep everything "out there," not affecting ourselves in any practical way. Then it is a refusal of "studiosity": depth and wisdom. It is better to curb it then: not in order to close that gap that separates us from the beasts, but in order to open our spirit in a still deeper way. Jesus ignored questions that came from mere curiosity. He responded to the questions by saying what we should do to be saved. He said it is a narrow door. If he had said, "It's dead easy, do not worry, relax," no one would consider it worth lifting a finger for. Anything that comes cheap, or for nothing, must be worthless. Anything of real value requires everything of us.


 

November 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

November 1 Thursday
All Saints

►1st Reading: Rev 7:2–4, 9–14*
I saw another angel ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads." After this I saw a great crowd, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the throne and the Lamb, and they cried out with a loud voice, "Who saves but our God who sits on the throne and the Lamb?" All the angels were around the throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they then bowed before the throne with their faces to the ground to worship God. They said, Amen. Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen! At that moment, one of the elders spoke up and said to me, "Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, it is you who know this." The elder replied, "They are those who have come out of the great persecution; they have washed and made their clothes white in the blood of the Lamb.
►2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1–3
See what singular love the Father has for us: we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet when he appears in his glory, we know that we shall be like him, for then we shall see him as he is. All who have such a hope try to be pure as he is pure.
►Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. He sat down and his disciples gathered around him. Then he spoke and began to teach them: "Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn, they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle, they shall possess the land. Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Fortunate are those with a pure heart, for they shall see God. Fortunate are those who work for peace, they shall be called children of God. Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are my followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God. This is how this people persecuted the prophets who lived before you."
REFLECTION

The greatest miracles are the unspectacular ones; the greatest saints, probably, are the anonymous ones. "Should you ask me: what is the first thing in religion?" wrote St. Augustine, "I would reply: the first, second, and third thing therein is humility." What about love? Isn't that first? Without humility love is not possible: there may be some activity of the ego disguised as love, but there is no love. Humility is the altar from which God receives sacrifices, said someone else. We thank God this day for all the anonymous saints of all time.


November 2 Friday All Souls
►1st Reading: Wis 3:1–9
The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their glory is held as a disaster; it seems that they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace. Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope. After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, he has accepted them as a holocaust. At the time of his coming they will shine like sparks that run in the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king forever. Those who trust in him will penetrate the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love, for his grace and mercy are for his chosen ones.
►2nd Reading: Rom 6:3–9
Don't you know that in baptism which unites us to Christ we are all baptized and plunged into his death. By this baptism in his death, we were buried with Christ and, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the Glory of the Father, so we begin walking in a new life. It was an image of his death when we were grafted in him, and so we will also share in his resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with Christ, so as to destroy what of us was sin, so that we may no longer serve sin—if we are dead, we are no longer in debt to sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. We know that Christ, once risen from the dead, will not die again and death has no more dominion over him.
►Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on the throne of his Glory. All the nations will be brought before him, and as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will he do with them, placing the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. "The King will say to those on his right: 'Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me into your house. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to see me.' "Then the good people will ask him: 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food; thirsty and give you drink, or a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to see you?' The King will answer, 'Truly, I say to you: when-ever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.' "Then he will say to those on his left: 'Go, cursed people, out of my sight into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you did not give me anything to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you did not welcome me into your house; I was naked and you did not clothe me; I was sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' "They, too, will ask: 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help you?' The King will answer them: 'Truly, I say to you: whatever you did not do for one of these little ones, you did not do for me.' "And these will go into eternal punishment, but the just to eternal life."
REFLECTION

Jesus shows us how he will judge everyone, making no distinctions based on origins when he comes as King of all nations. All those who, without knowing Christ, have shared in the common destiny of humankind, will be judged by him. In fact, he never abandoned the, but placed at their side "those little ones who are his brothers and sisters" as his representatives.

November 3 Saturday
30th Week in Ordinary Time
Martin de Porres

►1st Reading: Phil 1:18b–26
But in any case, whether they are sincere or showing off, Christ is proclaimed and because of this I rejoice and have no regrets. I know that all this will be a grace for me because of your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Christ. I am hopeful, even certain, that I shall not be ashamed. I feel as assured now, as before, that Christ will be exalted through my person, whether I live or die. For to me, living is Christ, and dying is gain. But if I am to go on living, I shall be able to enjoy fruitful labor. Which shall I choose? So I feel torn between the two. I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be better by far, but it is necessary for you that I remain in this life. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will stay and remain with you for your progress and happiness in the faith. I will surely come to you again, and give you more reason for being proud of belonging to Christ Jesus.
►Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-11
One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and he was carefully watched. Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for he had noticed how they tried to take the places of honor. And he said, "When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you has been invited, and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you: 'Please give this person your place.' What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat! "Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you: 'Friend, you must come up higher.' And this will be a great honor for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised."
REFLECTION

Practically every society is based on a system of preferment: not what you know but whom you know. The instinct to climb like an ivy on the merits of other people, is very deep in us; nearly everyone is capable of being a social climber. Even our humility is sometimes a disguised form of climbing. With great ingenuousness St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote about "the highest peak of humility, on which, standing as though on Zion, that is, at a vantage point, wee see the truth." It is like the saying attributed to some proud preacher, "it is my humility that makes me the man I am." How uncomplicated, by contrast, the wisdom of St. Francis, who praised "sister water, so useful, humble, precious and pure," always seeking the lowest place, and so giving life and fertility to the roots of things.

November 4 Sunday
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Moses spoke to the people saying, "Fear Yahweh, observe his commandments all the days of your life and his norms that I teach you today. So also for your children and your children's children that they may live long. "Listen, then, Israel, observe these commandments and put them into practice. If you do this, you will be well and you will multiply in this land flowing with milk and honey, as Yahweh, the God of your fathers, promised you. "Listen, Israel: Yahweh, our God, is One Yahweh. And you shall love Yahweh, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. Engrave on your heart the commandments that I pass on to you today."
►2nd Reading: Hebrews 7:23-28
The former priests were many since, as mortal men, they could not remain in office. But Jesus remains forever and the priesthood shall not be taken from him. Consequently he is able to save for all time those who approach God through him. He always lives to intercede on their behalf. It was fitting that our High Priest be holy, undefiled, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens; a priest who does not first need to offer sacrifice for himself before offering for the sins of the people, as high priests do. He offered himself in sacrifice once and for all. And whereas the Law elected weak men as high priests, now, after the Law, the word of God with an oath appointed the Son, made perfect forever.
►Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
A teacher of the Law had been listening to this discussion and admired how Jesus answered them. So he came up and asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is: Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes another one: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two." The teacher of the Law said to him, "Well spoken, Master; you are right when you say that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice." Jesus approved this answer and said, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." But after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 12:28–34: Jesus teaches the great commandments: love of God, neighbor and self.
Reflect:
• What is the relationship between the two great commandments? How do you apply them in your own life?
Pray:
• In your prayer, join your love of God to the love of particular individuals, especially those who are dear to you and those who cause you pain.
Act:
• One of the greatest acts of love is forgiveness. Is there someone you need to forgive?

November 5 Monday
31st Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Phil 2:1–4
If I may advise you in the name of Christ and if you can hear it as the voice of love; if we share the same spirit and are capable of mercy and compassion, then I beg of you make me very happy: have one love, one spirit, one feeling, do nothing through rivalry or vain conceit. On the contrary let each of you gently consider the others as more important than yourselves. Do not seek your own interest, but rather that of others.
►Gospel: Luke 14:12-14
Jesus addressed the man who had invited him and said, "When you give a lunch or a dinner, don't invite your friends, or your brothers and relatives and wealthy neighbors. For surely they will also invite you in return and you will be repaid. When you give a feast, invite instead the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Fortunate are you then, because they can't repay you; you will be repaid at the Resurrection of the upright."
REFLECTION

A very holy man once said that when we give something to another person we should give it with such humility that he or she forgives us for giving it! There is a kind of giving that humiliates the receiver, laying down an insoluble debt of gratitude. That kind of giving is worse than withholding. The Rabbis used to say that the best kind of giving was when you did not know to whom you were giving and when the receiver did not know from whom he or she was receiving. There is a purity about that; nothing has been twisted by the ego, nothing tarnished; everything is spotless.

November 6 Tuesday
31st Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Phil 2:5–11
Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ had: Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in his appearance found as a man. He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted him and gave him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.
►Gospel: Luke 14:15-24
One of those at the table said to Jesus, "Happy are those who eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God!" Jesus replied, "A man once gave a feast and invited many guests. When it was time for the feast he sent his servant to tell those he had invited to come, for everything was ready. But all alike began to make excuses. The first said: 'Please excuse me. I must go and see the piece of land I have just bought.' Another said: 'I am sorry, but I am on my way to try out the five yoke of oxen I have just bought.' Still another said, 'How can I come when I have just married?' "The servant returned alone and reported this to his master. Upon hearing the account, the master of the house flew into a rage and ordered his servant: 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' "The servant reported after a while: 'Sir, your orders have been carried out, but there is still room.' The master said: 'Go out to the highways and country lanes and force people to come in, to make sure my house is full. I tell you, none of those invited will have a morsel of my feast."
REFLECTION

Eating is a private affair and very social. If we break a biscuit and you eat one half while I eat the other half, my half becomes part of me and yours becomes part of you; biology is very individual in that sense. Yet eating is one of the most social of all activities; when people want to celebrate together and have joy in one another's company, they think first of having a meal together. It is a wonderful bridging of the chasm between individual and community, between private and public. Neither is neglected or suppressed. It contains a profound wisdom about human living, and about the life of grace.

November 7 Wednesday
31st Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Phil 2:12–18
My dearest friends, as you always obeyed me while I was with you, even more now that I am far from you, continue working out your salvation "with fear and trembling." It is God who makes you not only wish but also carry out what pleases him. Do everything without grumbling, so that without fault or blame, you will be children of God without reproach among a crooked and perverse generation. You are a light among them, like stars in the universe, holding to the Word of life. I shall feel proud of you on the day of Christ on seeing that my effort and labor have not been in vain. And if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I rejoice and continue to share your joy; and you likewise should rejoice and share my joy.
►Gospel: Luke 14:25-33
One day, when large crowds were walking along with Jesus, he turned and said to them, "If you come to me, without being ready to give up your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not follow me carrying his own cross cannot be my disciple. "Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost to see whether you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, if you have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone will make fun of you: 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' "And when a king wages war against another king, does he go to fight without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand can stand against the twenty thousand of his opponent? And if not, while the other is still a long way off he sends messengers for peace talks. In the same way, none of you may become my disciple if he doesn't give up everything he has."
REFLECTION

Today's passage shows the other side of yesterday's. We were invited to the banquet gratuitously. But the demands now made on us as disciples are absolute. We must be prepared to leave everything, even family, to follow him; we must 'hate' father, mother, etc. This is a very shocking statement, and we must be careful not to misunderstand it. 'Hate' in his idiom = not to prefer, praeferre in Latin = to place before Before; so the strange verse means: the one who places family before me cannot be my disciple.

November 8 Thursday
31st Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Phil 3:3–8a
We are the true circumcised people since we serve according to the Spirit of God, and our confidence is in Christ Jesus rather than in our merits. I myself do not lack those human qualities in which people have confidence. If some of them seem to be accredited with such qualities, how much more am I! I was circumcised when eight days old. I was born of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; I am a Hebrew, born of Hebrews. With regard to the Law, I am a Pharisee, and such was my zeal for the Law that I persecuted the Church. As for being righteous according to the Law, I was blameless. But once I found Christ, all those things that I might have considered as profit, I reckoned as loss. Still more, everything seems to me as nothing compared with the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake I have let everything fall away and I now consider all as garbage, if instead I may gain Christ.
►Gospel: Luke 15:1-10
Tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what he had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So Jesus told them this parable: "Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and seek out the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbors together and say: 'Celebrate with me for I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, just so, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine upright who do not need to repent. "What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp and sweep the house in a thorough search till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbors and say: 'Celebrate with me for I have found the silver coin I lost!' I tell you, in the same way there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner."
REFLECTION

Luke specializes in lost property! There is the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost or prodigal son, and all the waifs and strays who people the Gospel, such as our own prototypes as Gentiles. Almost everyone reading this passage I think identifies him or herself with the lost sheep. Most people feel lost at some level of their being and to be quite frank they are usually better company than those who do not! The subtlety of the story, I think is that there is no group of 99. The 99 is an optical illusion; all 100 feel that they are the one lost sheep! If we saw this not only with our mind but in our deepest heart we would have far more compassion on one another.

November 9 Friday
Dedication of the Lateran Basilica


►1st Reading: Ezk 47:1–2, 8–9, 12
The man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple and I saw water coming out from the threshold of the Temple and flowing eastwards. The Temple faced the east and the water flowed from the south side of the Temple, from the south side of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing the east and there I saw the stream coming from the south side. He said to me, "This water goes to the east, down to the Arabah, and when it flows into the sea of foul-smelling water, the water will become wholesome. Wherever the river flows, swarms of creatures will live in it; fish will be plentiful and the sea water will become fresh. Wherever it flows, life will abound. Near the river on both banks there will be all kinds of fruit trees with foliage that will not wither and fruit that will never fail; each month they will bear a fresh crop because the water comes from the Temple. The fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be used for healing.
►2nd Reading: 1 Cor 3:9c–11, 16–17
We are fellow-workers with God, but you are God's field and building. I, as a good architect, according to the capacity given to me, I laid the foundation and another is to build upon it. Each one must be careful how to build upon it. No one can lay a foundation other than the one which already laid, which is Jesus Christ. Do you know that you are God's temple, and that God's Spirit abides within you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him. God's temple is holy, and you are this temple.
►Gospel: John 2:13-22
As the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple court he found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the money-changers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, "Take all this away and stop turning my Father's house into a marketplace!" His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your House devours me as a fire. The Jews then questioned Jesus, "Where are the miraculous signs which give you the right to do this?" And Jesus said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then replied, "The building of this temple has already taken forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?" Actually, Jesus was referring to the temple of his body. Only when he had risen from the dead did his disciples remember these words; then they believed both the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.
REFLECTION
There are people who want "to barter with the Lord," said Eckhart. There is to be no buying and selling at that deep level of the soul. The soul or spirit is the holiest place on earth, where there is only giving and receiving. It is like breathing: a perpetual giving and receiving. Breathing is spirit (spirare in Latin, means 'to breathe). Spirituality is inscribed not only in our soul but in our very body; by following the breath, we learn all we need to learn.

November 10 Saturday
31st Week in Ordinary Time
Leo the Great

►1st Reading: Phil 4:10–19
I rejoice in the Lord because of your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me before, but you had no opportunity to show it. I do not say this because of being in want; I have learned to manage with what I have. I know what it is to be in want and what it is to have plenty. I am trained for both: to be hungry or satisfied, to have much or little. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. However you did right in sharing my trials. You Philippians, remember that in the beginning, when we first preached the Gospel, after I left Macedonia you alone opened for me a debit and credit account, and when I was in Thessalonica, twice you sent me what I needed. It is not your gift that I value but rather the interest increasing in your own account. Now I have enough and more than enough with everything Epaphroditus brought me on your behalf and which I received as "fragrant of-ferings pleasing to God." God himself will provide you with everything you need, according to his riches, and show you his generosity in Christ Jesus.
►Gospel: Luke 16:9-15
Jesus said to his disciples, "And so I tell you: use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes. "Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling filthy money, who could entrust you with true wealth? And if you have not been trustworthy with things which are not really yours, who will give you the wealth which is your own? "No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money." The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. He said to them, "You do your best to be considered righteous by people. But God knows the heart, and what rises high among humans is loathed by God."
REFLECTION

Many people are embarrassed by the exchange of money, perhaps because it is 'filthy lucre'. Or perhaps because it fixes values much too precisely. Luke seems embarrassed by the parable he is trying to make sense of in today's reading. Like so many after him, he calls money 'filthy', but he succeeds in turning the parable into a highly moral story, a warning about 'true wealth'. What can we take from all this? Why not begin to study your own attitude towards money, and the ways you give and take it?

November 11 Sunday
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time


►1st Reading: 1 Kings 17:10-16
Elijah went to Zarephath. On reaching the gate of the town, he saw a widow gathering sticks. He called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink." As she was going to bring it, he called after her and said, "Bring me also a piece of bread." But she answered, "As Yahweh your God lives, I have no bread left but only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just now gathering some sticks so that I may go in and prepare something for myself and my son to eat - and die." Elijah then said to her, "Do not be afraid. Go and do as you have said, but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me; then make some for yourself and your son. For this is the word of Yahweh, the God of Israel, 'The jar of meal shall not be emptied nor shall the jug of oil fail, until the day when Yahweh sends rain to the earth." So she went and did as Elijah told her; and she had food for herself, Elijah and her son from that day on. The jar of flour was not emptied nor did the jug of oil fail, in accordance with what Yahweh had said through Elijah.
►2nd Reading: Hebrews 9:24-28
Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God on our behalf. He had not to offer himself many times, as the High Priest does: he who may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise he would have suffered many times from the creation of the world. But no; he manifested himself only now at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once and afterwards are judged, in the same way Christ sacrificed himself once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin when he comes again to save those waiting for him.
►Gospel: Mark 12:38-44
As Jesus was teaching, he also said to the people, "Beware of those teachers of the Law who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace, and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow's and the orphan's goods while making a show of long prayers. How severe a sentence they will receive!" Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also came and dropped in two small coins. Then Jesus called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty and put in everything she had, her very living."
REFLECTION

Read
• Mark 12:38–44: Jesus praises the generosity of the widow for giving from her poverty.
Reflect:
• Did the widow really give up all her money? What else do we have to give to the Lord?
Pray:
• Pray for detachment from material things so that you will be free to follow the will of the Lord in your life completely.
Act:
• Give some of your money to someone who needs it more than you do.

November 12 Monday
32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Josaphat

►1st Reading: Tit 1:1–9
From Paul, servant of God, apostle of Christ Jesus, at the service of God's chosen people, so that they may believe and reach the knowledge of truth and godliness. The eternal life we are waiting for was promised from the very beginning by God who never lies, and as the appointed time had come, he made it known through the message entrusted to me by a command of God, our Savior. Greetings to you, Titus, my true son in the faith we share. May grace and peace be with you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I left you in Crete because I wanted you to put right what was defective and appoint elders in every town, following my instructions. They must be blameless, married only once, whose children are believers and not open to the charge of being immoral and rebellious. Since the overseer (or bishop) is the steward of God's house, he must be beyond reproach: not proud, hot-headed, over-fond of wine, quarrelsome or greedy for gain. On the contrary he must be hospitable, a lover of what is good, wise, upright, devout and self-controlled. He must hold to the message of faith just as it was taught, so that, in his turn, he may teach sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
►Gospel: Luke 17:1-6
Jesus said to his disciples, "Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who has brought it about. It would be better for that one to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around the neck. Truly this would be better for that person than to cause one of these little ones to fall. "Be careful. If your brother offends you, rebuke him and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in a day but says to you seven times: 'I'm sorry,' forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." And the Lord said, "If you have faith even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree: 'Be uprooted and plant yourself in the sea,' and it will obey you."
REFLECTION

I have often seen road signs turned around by vandals. It is a particularly nasty prank, because there is no calculating the anguish it causes strangers who are sent the wrong way. There are other signposts that we are all capable of turning around: every wicked and self-centered act that we do is a signpost turned around, and we cannot tell how far astray it will send some other people, especially those who are new to this road of life.

November 13 Tuesday
32nd Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Tit 2:1–8, 11–14
Let your words strengthen sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be sober, serious, wise, sound in faith, love and perseverance. The older women in like manner must behave as befits holy women, not given to gossiping or drinking wine, but as good counselors, able to teach younger women to love their husbands and children, to be judicious and chaste, to take care of their households, to be kind and submissive to their husbands, lest our faith be attacked. Encourage the young men to be self-controlled. Set them an example by your own way of doing. Let your teaching be earnest and sincere, and your preaching beyond reproach. Then your opponents will feel ashamed and will have nothing to criticize. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, teaching us to reject an irreligious way of life and worldly greed, and to live in this world as responsible persons, up-right and serving God, while we await our blessed hope—the glorious manifestation of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus. He gave himself for us, to redeem us from every evil and to purify a people he wanted to be his own and dedicated to what is good.
►Gospel: Luke 17:7-10
The Lord said, "Who among you would say to your servant coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep: 'Come at once and sit down at table'? No, you tell him: 'Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; you can eat and drink afterwards.' Do you thank this servant for doing what you commanded? So for you. When you have done all that you have been told to do, you must say: 'We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.'"
REFLECTION

If I live my life with the idea that everyone has to be deeply grateful to me, I will never reach any depth; I will be loke a workman looking at the impression he is making on onlookers rather than keeping his eye on the job. Real attention to something is self-forgetful; the ego has to move over. In any case the thanks you receive only when you ask for it is a poor thing, is it not? Concentrate on your life's work, the Gospel tells us, and do not look for applause. Great artists do not work for applause; they work because they have fire in their bellies.

November 14 Wednesday
32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Frances Xavier Cabrini

►1st Reading: Tit 3:1–7
Remind the believers to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient and to be ready for every good work. Tell them to insult no one; they must not be quarrelsome but gentle and understanding with everyone. We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient and misled. We were slaves of our desires, seeking pleasures of every kind. We lived in malice and envy, hateful and hating each other. But God our Savior revealed his eminent goodness and love for humankind and saved us, not because of good deeds we may have done but for the sake of his own mercy, to the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit poured over us through Christ Jesus our Savior, so that having been justified of his grace we should become heirs in hope of eternal life.
►Gospel: Luke 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along the border between Samaria and Galilee, and as he entered a village, ten lepers came to meet him. Keeping their distance, they called to him, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" Then Jesus said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." Now, as they went their way, they found they were cured. One of them, as soon as he saw he was cleansed, turned back praising God in a loud voice, and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave him thanks. This man was a Samaritan. "Was no one found to return and give praise to God but this alien?" And Jesus said to him, "Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you."
REFLECTION

In today's Gospel, shared misery had brought Jewish and Samaritan lepers together! There is nothing good about disease and disasters. Yet there can be good consequences of even the worst evils (and this does not make them less evil). There is almost no limit to the resilience of the human spirit, and there is certainly no limit to the grace of God. When there are natural disasters, thousands – even millions – discover in themselves Christian love and service. We are often at our best when times are at their worst.

November 15 Thursday
32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Albert the Great

►1st Reading: Phlm 7–20
I had great satisfaction and comfort on hearing of your charity, because the hearts of the saints have been cheered by you, brother. Because of this, although in Christ I have the freedom to command what you should do, yet I prefer to request you in love. The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison. This Onesimus has not been helpful to you, but now he will be helpful both to you and to me. In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent. Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is a very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself. And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this and sign it with my own hand: I will pay it… without further mention of your debt to me, which is you yourself. So, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord's sake. Give me this comfort in Christ.
►Gospel: Luke 17:20-25
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, "The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe and say of it: 'Look, here it is! There it is!' See, the kingdom of God is among you." And Jesus said to his disciples, "The time is at hand when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you: 'Look there! Look here!' Do not go, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this people."
REFLECTION
When the Pharisees asked, "When will the Kingdom of God come?" no doubt they were asking for some very visible and external signs, since their brand of religion was so external. They did not have the slightest inkling of interiority. "It is already among you," Jesus replied. The Greek word entos could mean 'within' or 'among'; but the Kingdom of God was clearly not within those Pharisees! The Kingdom was among them; that is, in the person of Jesus himself. It often happens that our questions are aimed far away, over the horizon, while the answers are very near. It is easier to relate to distant things than to things that are just in front of our face. What if the Presence is even closer than that? What if it is ultimately within us?

November 16 Friday
32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Margaret of Scotland / Gertrude

►1st Reading: 2 Jn 4–9
I rejoiced greatly on meeting some of your children who live in accordance with the truth, according to the command we have received from the Father. And now, I ask you, Lady—I write to you not a new commandment but that which we had from the beginning—I ask you: let us love one another. This is love: to walk according to his commandments. And this is the commandment: that you walk in love as you have learned from the beginning. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, people who do not acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ who came in the flesh. They are impostors and antichrists. Take care of yourselves that you do not lose the fruit of your labors, but receive a perfect reward. Everyone who goes beyond and does not remain within the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
►Gospel: Luke 17:26-37
Jesus said to his disciples, "As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. Then people ate and drank; they took husbands and wives. But on the day Noah entered the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. Just as it was in the days of Lot: people ate and drank, they bought and sold, planted and built. But on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. "On that day, if you are on the rooftop, don't go down into the house to get your belongings, and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot's wife. Whoever tries to save his life will lose himself, but whoever gives his life will be born again. "I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it may be that one will be taken and the other left. Though two women are grinding corn together, one may be taken and the other left." Then they asked Jesus, "Where will this take place, Lord?" And he answered, "Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather."
REFLECTION

Jesus was a very young man, only thirty-three. He was full of raw energy and dynamism, he was in a hurry. The Buddha lived to be eighty, and there was tremendous peace about him. "Jesus was full of passion," a friend said, " and the Buddha was full of compassion." These overlap, of course, but there is still a certain contrast. "Hurry!" Jesus kept saying. "Do not even collect your belongings… do not even come back to the house!" The Presence of God will be a shattering event.


November 17 Saturday
32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Elizabeth of Hungary

►1st Reading: 3 Jn 5–8
Beloved, you do well to care for the brothers and sisters as you do. I mean those coming from other places. They spoke of your charity before the assembled Church. It will be well to provide them with what they need to continue their journey, as if you did it for God. In reality, they have set out on the road for his name without accepting anything from the pagans. We should receive such persons, making ourselves their cooperators in the work of the truth.
►Gospel: Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told them a parable to show them that they should pray continually and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor people. In the same town was a widow who kept coming to him, saying: 'Defend my rights against my opponent.' For a time he refused, but finally he thought: 'Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out." And Jesus explained, "Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for his chosen ones who cry to him day and night even if he delays in answering them? I tell you, he will speedily do them justice. Yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
REFLECTION

We are very precise nowadays, perhaps often too precise for our own good. When we say "sight" we mean the sight of your eyes, unless otherwise stated. But Hebrew is a very concrete and poetic language, and no doubt so was the Lord's Aramaic. Everything he said had resonances and layers of meaning. He restored sight to the blind, and yes it meant the sight of their eyes; but these incidents are saturated in further meanings: sight is the ability to move unhesitatingly in one's life, sight is participation in community, sight is sight of the truth, sight is proof that the messianic Kingdom is already inaugurated.

November 18 Sunday
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Daniel 12:1-3
At that time, Michael will rise, the Great Commander who defends your people. It shall be a time of anguish as never before since the nations first existed until this very day. Then all those whose names are written in the Book will be saved. Many of those who sleep in the Region of the Dust will awake, some to everlasting life but others to eternal horror and shame. Those who acquired knowledge will shine like the brilliance of the firmament; those who taught people to be just will shine like the stars for all eternity.
►2nd Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14, 18
So, whereas every priest stands daily by the altar offering repeatedly the same sacrifices that can never take away sins, Christ has offered for all times a single sacrifice for sins and has taken his seat at the right hand of God, waiting until God puts his enemies as a footstool under his feet. By a single sacrifice he has brought those who are sanctified to what is perfect forever. So, if sins are forgiven, there is no longer need of any sacrifice for sin.
►Gospel: Mark 13:24-32
Jesus said to his disciples, "Later on, in those days after that disastrous time, the sun will grow dark, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall out of the sky and the whole universe will be shaken. Then people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send the angels to gather his chosen people from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky. "Learn a lesson from the fig tree. As soon as its branches become tender and it begins to sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the time is near, even at the door. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all this has happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "But, regarding that Day and that Hour, no one knows when it will come, not even the angels, not even the Son, but only the Father."
REFLECTION

Read • Mark 13:24-32: "Apocalyptic" generally means that things will get worse before they get better. This whole chapter deals with the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem and the end of the world. It also offers hope.
Reflect:
• Is the end of the world coming soon? Some people seem to think so, but, according to Mark, not even the Son knows. Why would apocalyptic literature give hope?
Pray:
• When things seem bad in this world, pray for peace. In your prayer do not be afraid of the future, since that future is ultimately in God's hands.
Act:
• Do all you can to work for peace. Start with the groups around you, both in the church and in society.

November 19 Monday
33rd Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Rev 1:1–4; 2:1–5
The Revelation of Jesus Christ. God gave it to him to let his servants know what is soon to take place. He sent his angel to make it known to his servant, John, who reports everything he saw, for this is the word of God and the declaration of Jesus Christ. Happy is the one who reads aloud these prophetic words, and happy those who hear them and treasure everything written here, for the time is near. From John to the seven Churches of Asia: receive grace and peace from him who is, who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits of God which are before his throne. Write this to the angel of the Church in Ephesus, "Thus says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your difficulties and your patient suffering. I know you cannot tolerate evildoers but have tested those who call themselves apostles and have proved them to be liars. You have persevered and have suffered for my name without losing heart. Nevertheless, I have this complaint against you: you have lost your first love. Remember from where you have fallen and repent, and do what you used to do before. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place; this I will do, unless you repent.
►Gospel: Luke 18:35-43
When Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. As he heard the crowd passing by, he inquired what it was, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was going by. Then he cried out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" The people in front scolded him, "Be quiet!" but he cried out all the more, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and ordered the blind man to be brought to him, and when he came near, he asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the man said, "Lord, that I may see!" Jesus said, "Receive your sight, your faith has saved you." At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.
REFLECTION

We are very precise nowadays, perhaps often too precise for our own good. When we say "sight" we mean the sight of your eyes, unless otherwise stated. But Hebrew is a very concrete and poetic language, and no doubt so was the Lord's Aramaic. Everything he said had resonances and layers of meaning. He restored sight to the blind, and yes it meant the sight of their eyes; but these incidents are saturated in further meanings: sight is the ability to move unhesitatingly in one's life, sight is participation in community, sight is sight of the truth, sight is proof that the messianic Kingdom is already inaugurated.

November 20 Tuesday
33rd Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Rev 3:1–6, 14–22*
Write this to the angel of the Church in Sardis, "Thus says he who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your worth: you think you live but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of my God. Remember what you were taught; keep it and change your ways. If you do not repent I will come upon you like a thief at an hour you least expect." Yet, there are some left in Sardis who have not soiled their robes; these will come with me, dressed in white, since they deserve it. The victor will be dressed in white and I will never erase his name from the book of life; instead, I will acknowledge it before my Father and his angels. Write this to the angel of the Church in Laodicea, "Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation: I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! You are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold so I will spit you out of my mouth. You think you are rich and have piled up so much that you need nothing, but you do not realize that you are wretched and to be pitied, poor, blind and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold that has been tested by fire, so that you may be rich, and white clothes to wear so that your nakedness may not shame you, and ointment for your eyes that you may see. I reprimand and correct all those I love. Be earnest and change your ways. Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my call and open the door, I will come in to you and have supper with you, and you with me. I will let the victor sit with me on my throne just as I was victorious and took my place with my Father on his throne."
►Gospel: Luke 19:1-10
When Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the city, a man named Zacchaeus was there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus who had to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly for I must stay at your house today." So Zacchaeus hurried down and received him joyfully. All the people who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to the house of a sinner as a guest." But Zacchaeus spoke to Jesus, "The half of my goods, Lord, I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much." Looking at him Jesus said, "Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost."
REFLECTION
Jesus never seems to have been impressed by numbers and percentages. He told the story of the two who went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee at the front gave God a full report of his good deeds, while the tax collector at the back only bowed his head and asked for mercy. In today's story, we have a tax-collector giving his figures: "I give half of my goods to the poor and if I have cheated anyone I repay him fourfold." Jesus ignored these figures and said, "Truly salvation has come to this house" (today, and not when this tax collector started being "good'). The Son of Man has come to seek and save what was lost. Clearly salvation is not by figures and percentages.

November 21 Wednesday
33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Presentation of Mary

►1st Reading: Rev 4:1–11*
The voice which I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here and I will show you what will come in the future." Immediately I was seized by the Spirit. There, in heaven, was a throne and one sitting on it. In a circle around the throne are twenty-four thrones and seated on these are twenty-four elders, dressed in white clothes, with golden crowns on their heads. Around and beside the throne stand four living creatures, full of eyes, both in front and behind. The first living creature is like a lion, the second like a bull, the third has the face of a man and the fourth looks like a flying eagle. Day and night they sing without ceasing, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, master of the universe, who was, and is and is to come. Our Lord and God, worthy are you to receive glory, honor and power! For you have created all things; by your will they came to be and were made.
►Gospel: Luke 19:11-28
Jesus was now near Jerusalem and the people with him thought that God's reign was about to appear. So as they were listening to him. Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He said, "A man of noble birth went to a distant place to have himself appointed king of his own people, after which he would return. Before he left, he summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. He said: 'Put this money to work until I get back.' But his compatriots who disliked him sent a delegation after him with this message: 'We do not want this man to be our king.' "He returned, however, appointed as king. At once he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in and reported: 'Sir, your pound has earned ten more.' "The master replied: 'Well done, my good servant. Since you have proved yourself capable in a small matter, I can trust you to take charge of ten cities.' The second reported: 'Sir, your pound earned five more pounds.' The master replied: 'Right, take charge of five cities.' "The third came in and said: 'Sir, here is your money which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you for you are an exacting person; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.' "The master replied: 'You worthless servant, I will judge you by your own words. So you knew I was an exacting person, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow! Why, then, did you not put my money on loan so that when I got back I could have collected it with interest?' "Then the master said to those standing by: 'Take from him that pound, and give it to the one with ten pounds.' They objected: 'But, sir, he already has ten!' "I tell you: everyone who has will be given more; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." As for my enemies who did not want me to be king, bring them in and execute them right here in my presence.'" So Jesus spoke, and he went on ahead of them, on his way to Jerusalem.
REFLECTION
This parable is unique in one respect. It is the only parable told by Jesus that has a historical basis. It alludes to the journey of Archelaus to Rome in 4 B.C., to have the will of Herod the Great confirmed in his favor: the lordship of Judea. A deputation of fifty Jews followed him there to thwart the attempt. The attempt failed, and on his return Archelaus took bloody revenge. "To the one who has, more will be given!" It sounds very unjust. But Jesus is speaking of other things: for example, to the one who loves, more love will become possible; to the one who prays, more prayer will be possible.

November 22 Thursday
33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Cecilia

►1st Reading: Rev 5:1–10
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written on both sides, sealed with seven seals. A mighty angel exclaimed in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open this and break the seals?" But no one in heaven or on earth or in the netherworld was found able to open the book and read it. I wept much when I saw that no one was found worthy to open the book and read it. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Shoot of David, has conquered; he will open the book of the seven seals." And I saw next to the throne with its four living creatures and the twenty-four elders a Lamb standing, although it had been slain. I saw him with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out to all the earth. The Lamb moved forward and took the book from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders bowed before the Lamb. They all held in their hands harps and golden cups full of incense which are the prayers of the holy ones. This is the new song they sang: You are worthy to take the book and open its seals, for you were slain and by your blood you purchased for God people of every race, language and nation; and you made them a kingdom and priests for our God and they shall reign over the land.
►Gospel: Luke 19:41-44
When Jesus had come in sight of the city, he wept over it and said, "If only today you knew the ways of peace! But now your eyes are held from seeing. Yet days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with barricades and shut you in and press on you from every side. And they will dash you to the ground and your children with you, and leave not a stone within you, for you did not recognize the time and the visitation of your God."
REFLECTION
In the verse just before this reading, the people were singing and shouting for joy. Suddenly a change of mood: Jesus himself is weeping. Luke's gospel is noted for these contrasts. Jesus' prophecy in today's reading is composed entirely of quotations from the Old Testament prophets: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea…. He was not the first to grieve over Jerusalem; nor was he the last. But somehow we froze him in that mood of sadness. There are no pictures of Jesus filled with joy – as he must have been. If one of the fruits of his Spirit is joy (Gal 5:22), then he himself must have been filled with deep joy.

November 23 Friday
33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Clement / Columban / Bl. Miguel Agustin Pro

►1st Reading: Rev 10:8–11
And the voice I had heard from heaven spoke again, saying to me, "Go near the angel who stands on the sea and on the land, and take the small book open in his hand." So I approached the angel and asked him for the small book; he said to me, "Take it and eat; although it be sweet as honey in your mouth, it will be bitter to your stomach." I took the small book from the hand of the angel, and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, it turned bitter in my stomach. Then I was told, "You must again proclaim God's words about many peoples, nations, tongues and kings."
►Gospel: Luke 19:45-48
Jesus entered the Temple area and began to drive out the merchants. And he said to them, "God says in the Scriptures: My house shall be a house of prayer: but you have turned it into a den of robbers." Jesus was teaching every day in the Temple. The chief priests and teachers of the Law wanted to kill him and the elders of the Jews as well, but they were unable to do anything, for all the people were listening to him and hanging on his words.
REFLECTION

The buyers and sellers did their business in that part of the Temple known as the Court of the Gentiles, where non-Jews could enter. Jesus chased those traders out of the Court of the Gentiles: in other words, out of the place where even you and I could have gone. He did it for us and the likes of us! The full text that he quoted from went: "My house shall be a house of prayer for all the peoples." He respected us foreigners, more than any of his contemporaries did. We should not forget that!

November 24 Saturday
33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions

►1st Reading: Rev 11:4–12
These are the two olive trees and the two lamps which are before the Lord of the earth. If anyone intends to harm them, fire will come out of their mouths to devour their enemies: this is how whoever intends to harm them will perish. They have the power to close the sky and hold back the rain during the time of their prophetic mission; they also have the power to change water into blood, and punish the earth with a thousand plagues, anytime they wish. But when my witnesses have fulfilled their mission, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war upon them, and will conquer and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the square of the Great City which the believers figuratively call Sodom or Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. And their dead bodies will be exposed for three days and a half to people of all tribes, races, languages and nations who will be ordered not to have them buried. Then the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, congratulate one another and exchange gifts among themselves because these two prophets were a torment to them. But after those three and a half days, a spirit of life coming from God entered them. They then stood up, and those who looked at them were seized with great fear. A loud voice from heaven called them, "Come up here." So they went up to heaven in the midst of the clouds in the sight of their enemies.
►Gospel: Luke 20:27-40
Some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection and they asked Jesus this question, "Master, in the Scripture Moses told us: 'If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and the child to be born will be regarded as the child of the deceased man.' Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be wife? For the seven had her as wife." And Jesus replied, "Taking husband or wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die for they are like the angels. They too are sons and daughters of God because they are born of the resurrection. "Yes, the dead will be raised, and even Moses implied it in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For he is God of the living and not of the dead, and for him all are alive." Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, "Master, you have spoken well." They didn't dare to ask him anything else.
REFLECTION

The religious approach to the question of life and death is very different from the philosophical approach. The Scriptures speak of the resurrection of the dead, not the immortality of the soul. In the world of the Scriptures the whole person falls into the power of death; and if there is any possibility of deliverance from this power, it is not established by arguments about the immortality of the soul but rather through belief that God will raise us up, as he raised Jesus. As the Liturgy says, "In him, our hope of resurrection dawned." Belief in the resurrection is a belief about God, not a belief about ourselves.

November 25 Sunday
Christ the King

►1st Reading: Daniel 7:13-14
I continued watching the nocturnal vision: One like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into his presence. Dominion, honor and kingship were given him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; his kingdom will never be destroyed.
►2nd Reading: Revelation 1:5-8
Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has washed away our sins with his own blood, making us a kingdom and priests for God his Father, to him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. See he comes with the clouds and everyone will see him, even those who pierced him; on his account all the nations of the earth will beat his breast. Yes. It will be so. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, he who is, who was and who is to come: the Master of the universe.
►Gospel: John 18:33-37
Pilate then entered the court again, called Jesus and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus replied, "Does this word come from you, or did you hear it from others?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingship does not come from this world. If I were king like those of this world, my guards would have fought to save me from being handed over to the Jews. But my kingship is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" And Jesus answered, "Just as you say, I am a king. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears my voice."
REFLECTION

Read
• John 18: 33b-37: Jesus demonstrated to Pilate what it means to be really a king.
Reflect:
• Who sits on the judgment seat, Pilate or Jesus? This gospel seems to imply that Jesus is the judge, Pilate the witness, and the Jews are those on trial.
Pray:
• Pray for the Jews, who first heard the word of God. To them belong the patriarchs and the promises, and from them came Jesus and his earliest followers.
Act:
• It seems anti-Semitism has always existed. Avoid any prejudice, especially against the Jewish people.

November 26 Monday
34th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Rev 14:1–3, 4b–5
I was given another vision: The Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, surrounded by one hundred and forty-four thousand people who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. A sound reverberated in heaven like the sound of the roaring of waves or deafening thunder; it was like a chorus of singers, accompanied by their harps. They sing a new song before the throne, in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders, a song which no one can learn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who have been taken from the earth. They are those who were not defiled with women but were chaste; these are given to follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They are the first taken from humankind who are already of God and the Lamb. No deceit has been found in them; they are faultless.
►Gospel: Luke 21:1-4
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasure box; he also saw a poor widow dropping in two small coins. And he said, "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all gave an offering from their plenty, but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on."
REFLECTION
Widows were the very symbol of the helpless poor. Then when Jesus sees the poor widow putting money, "all she has to live on," into the Temple treasury, he denounces the practice of taking money from the poor to shore up a decaying religious institution. Her very generosity is a judgment on that institution: it shows how effortlessly successful it has been in exploiting the poor. We too have been very successful, even to the point of putting a pious interpretation on this text. What would Jesus say to us?

November 27 Tuesday
34th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Rev 14:14–19
Then I had this vision. I saw a white cloud and the one sitting on it like a son of man, wearing a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. An angel came out of the sanctuary, calling loudly to the one sitting on the cloud, "Put in your sickle and reap, for harvest time has come and the harvest of the earth is ripe." He who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle at the earth and reaped the harvest. Then another angel, who also had a sharp sickle, came out of the heavenly sanctuary. Still another angel, the one who has charge of the altar fire, emerged and shouted to the first who held the sharp sickle, "Swing your sharp sickle and reap the bunches of the vine of the earth for they are fully ripe." So the angel swung his sickle and gathered in the vintage, throwing all the grapes into the great winepress of the anger of God.
►Gospel: Luke 21:5-11
While some people were talking about the Temple, remarking that it was adorned with fine stonework and rich gifts, Jesus said to them, "The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire; all will be torn down." And they asked him, "Master, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?" Jesus then said, "Take care not to be deceived, for many will come claiming my title and saying: 'I am he, the Messiah; the time is at hand.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and troubled times, don't be frightened; for all this must happen first, even though the end is not so soon." And Jesus said, "Nations will fight each other and kingdom will oppose kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues; in many places strange and terrifying signs from heaven will be seen."
REFLECTION

How extraordinary it is that we exempt the Church from judgment! – as if everything in the gospels was about Jewish clergy only. "I am with you always, yes, to the end of time," he promised (Mt 28:20). Does this mean that he always supports us as we are? Does it mean that we can behave any way we like? I dare say it does not. He is with us always, yes, to challenge us even more severely than he challenged the Temple; more severely because we claim to speak in his name.

November 28 Wednesday
34th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Rev 15:1–4
Then I saw another great and marvelous sign in the heavens: seven angels brought seven plagues which are the last, for with these the wrath of God will end. There was a sea of crystal mingled with fire, and the conquerors of the beast, of its name and the mark of its name stood by it. They had been given the celestial harps and they sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord, God and Master of the universe. Justice and truth guide your steps, O King of the nations. Lord, who will not give honor and glory to your Name? For you alone are holy. All the nations will come and bow before you, for they have now seen your judgments.
►Gospel: Luke 21:12-19
Jesus said to his disciples, "People will lay their hands on you and persecute you; you will be delivered to the Jewish courts and put in prison, and for my sake you will be brought before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. "So keep this in mind: do not worry in advance about what to answer, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. "You will be betrayed even by parents, and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. But even though you are hated by all for my name's sake, not a hair of your head will perish. Through perseverance you will possess your own selves."
REFLECTION

It is important to learn not just how to endure the endings of various things in our life, but to celebrate the ending! If we do not celebrate the end, the next beginning has no freshness, no newness. If the Gospel does not seem constantly new to us, perhaps it is because we have not died enough. Thomas Merton wrote, "Those for whom the Gospel is old, and old only, have killed it for everyone else. The life of the Gospel is its newness…. They are declaring it officially, they are proclaiming it not just as a paradox of an eccentric, but as the doctrine of their church."

November 29 Thursday
34th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Rev 18:1–2, 21–23; 19:1–3, 9a*
After this I, John, saw another angel coming down from heaven. In a strong voice he cried out: "Fallen is Babylon the great! Fallen! She has become a haunt of demons, a lodge for every unclean spirit, a nest for any filthy and disgusting bird. A powerful angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying: "With such violence will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down, never again to be seen. Never again will tunes of harpists, minstrels, trumpeters and flutists be heard in you. Never again will the light of a lamp shine in you. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never again be heard in you. After this I heard what sounded like the loud singing of a great assembly in heaven: Alleluia! Salvation, glory and might belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the world with her adultery. He has avenged his servants' blood shed by her hand in harlotry. Once more they sang: Alleluia! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever! Then the angel told me, "Write: Happy are those invited to the wedding of the Lamb." And he went on, "These are true words of God."
►Gospel: Luke 21:20-28
Jesus said to his disciples, "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you must know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. Then, if you are in Judea, flee to the mountains; if you are in the city, leave it; and let those who are in the fields not return to the city. "For these will be the days of its punishment and all that was announced in the Scripture will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and divine justice upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans until the time of the pagans is fulfilled. "Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of perplexed nations when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. And at this time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. "Now, when you see the first events, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near."
REFLECTION

The passage of time is the saddest of all mysteries. You have only to look back to see for yourself that everything turns to dust. "Not people die, but worlds die in them, " wrote the Russian poet Yevtushenko. Every day a world dies and world is born. Equally. But if your eyes are always straining for the past, you will miss what is being born around you.

November 30 Friday
Andrew, Apostle


►1st Reading: Rom 10:9–18
You are saved if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart you believe that God raised him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips you are saved. For Scripture says: No one who believes in him will be ashamed. Here there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, who is very generous with whoever calls on him. Truly, all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call upon the name of the Lord without having believed in him? And how can they believe in him without having first heard about him? And how will they hear about him if no one preaches about him? And how will they preach about him if no one sends them? As Scripture says: How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of good news. Although not everyone obeyed the good news, as Isaiah said: Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ. I ask: Have the Jews not heard? But of course they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth and their voice was heard to the ends of the world.
►Gospel: Matthew 4:18-22
As Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fish for people." At once they left their nets and followed him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once they left the boat and their father and followed him.
REFLECTION

In the first three gospels, Andrew is not mentioned except in lists of the Twelve. But in John's gospel he appears three times, and in each case he is introducing other people to Jesus! First of all, his brother, Simon Peter. Then in John 6:8, he is bringing forward a boy with five loaves and two fish. And in John12:20-22, he is bringing some Greeks to Jesus. It would be nice if the only thing that people could remember about you is that you brought people to Jesus!


 

December 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31

December 1 Saturday
34th Week in Ordinary Time

►1st Reading: Rev 22:1–7
Then he showed me the river of life, clear as crystal, gushing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of the city, on both sides of the river are the trees of life producing fruit twelve times, once each month, the leaves of which are for healing the nations. No longer will there be a curse; the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the City and God's servants will live in his presence. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of lamp or sun for God himself will be their light and they will reign forever. Then the angel said to me, "These words are sure and true; the Lord God who inspires the prophets has sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon. "I am coming soon! Happy are those who keep the prophetic words of this book."
►Gospel: Luke 21:34-36
Jesus said to his disciples, "Be on your guard; let not your hearts be weighed down with a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares, lest that day catch you suddenly as a trap. For it will come upon all the inhabitants of the whole earth. But watch at all times and pray, that you may be able to escape all that is bound to happen and to stand before the Son of Man."
REFLECTION

End times! Today is the last day of the present liturgical year. It has not come upon us suddenly: for a while now the readings have had an ominous note, a kind of foreboding. It is important to celebrate the end of things, and not just the beginnings. If we do not celebrate the end, it will not fully end, and therefore there will be no fresh beginning. Say goodbye to many things today! Make it your practice, all day long. Goodbye, goodbye! You are making space for a new creation.


December 2 Sunday
1st Sunday of Advent


►1st Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16
The Lord says, "The days are coming when I shall fulfill the promise that I made in favor of Israel and Judah. "In those days and at that time I will cause to sprout the shoot of righteousness from David's line; he will practice justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will experience salvation and Jerusalem will live in safety. He will be called Yahweh-Our-Righteousness."
►2nd Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2
May the Lord increase more and more your love for each other and for all people, as he increases our love for you. May he strengthen you internally to be holy and blameless before God, our Father, on the day that Jesus, our Lord, will come with all his saints. For the rest, brothers, we ask you in the name of Jesus, the Lord, and we urge you to live in a way that pleases God, just as you have learned from us. This you do, but try to do still more. You know the instructions we gave you on behalf of the Lord Jesus.
►Gospel: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Jesus said, "Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of perplexed nations when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. And at this time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. "Now, when you see the first events, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near." "Be on your guard; let not your hearts be weighed down with a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares, lest that day catch you suddenly as a trap. For it will come upon all the inhabitants of the whole earth. But watch at all times and pray, that you may be able to escape all that is bound to happen and to stand before the Son of Man."
REFLECTION

Read
• Luke 21:25–38: The signs of the coming of Christ in full glory will be obvious, as evident and clear as the bursting into bloom of the fig tree signifies the coming of summer. For those who remain faithful to the practice of prayer, there is nothing to fear.
Reflect
• Memento mori. It need not be morose to think of the end times, or even to think of one's own passing on to the next life. It is only prudent.
Pray
• O God, I understand that my final hour on earth, whether at the end of time or well short of it, will be a critical moment for me. I pray that Jesus and his Mother may be present at my side in that hour.
Act
• Resolve to make daily prayer an essential element of your journey of faith.

December 3 Monday
1st Week of Advent
Francis Xavier


►1st Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
The vision of Isaiah, son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In the last days, the mountain of Yahweh's house shall be set over the highest mountains and shall tower over the hills. All the nations shall stream to it, saying, "Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths. For the Teaching comes from Zion, and from Jerusalem the word of Yahweh. "He will rule over the nations and settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not raise sword against nation; they will train for war no more. "O nation of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!"
►Gospel: Matthew 8:5-11
When Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached him to ask his help, "Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly." Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." The captain answered, "I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one: 'Go,' he goes, and if I say to another: 'Come,' he comes, and to my servant: 'Do this,' he does it." When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those who were following him, "I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven."
REFLECTION

All the centurions who appear in the Gospel are thoroughly good fellows. A centurion was a captain of a hundred men, as the name implies. The centurion in today's story thought like an army man and spoke like a gentleman. He thought of life in terms of orders being carried out: "I say 'Go' and he goes!" And he thought that Jesus could just issue an order to the sickness and it would go like an army private. But he was a gentleman. In the first place he was going out of his way to help a servant. And secondly he spoke in a most courteous way to Jesus who was a "native." It shows that goodness can be found everywhere and that Jesus is the first to recognize it.

December 4 Tuesday
1st Week of Advent
John Damascus

►1st Reading: Is 11:1–10
From the stump of Jesse a shoot will come forth; from his roots a branch will grow and bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him— a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and power, a Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. Not by appearances will he judge, nor by what is said must he decide, but with justice he will judge the poor and with righteousness decide for the meek. Like a rod, his word will strike the oppressor, and the breath of his lips slay the wicked. Justice will be the girdle of his waist, truth the girdle of his loins. The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will rest beside the kid, the calf and the lion cub will feed together and a little child will lead them. Befriending each other, the cow and the bear will see their young ones lie down together. Like cattle, the lion will eat hay. By the cobra's den the infant will play. The child will put his hand into the viper's lair. No one will harm or destroy over my holy mountain, for as water fills the sea the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. On that day the "Root of Jesse" will be raised as a signal for the nations. The people will come in search of him, thus making his dwelling place glorious.
►Gospel: Luke 10:21-24
Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit and said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to the little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. I have been given all things by my Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them privately, "Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see but did not, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."
REFLECTION

Children see everything with astonishment (unless they have been robbed of the capacity for it by television). They have eyes for "the newness that was in every stale thing." Every disciple needs to learn again to see like a child. Jesus said, "If we are to enter the Kingdom of God, we must be like children." We have to become like children if we are to understand God's newest deed – which is a Child.

December 5 Wednesday
1st Week of Advent

►1st Reading: Is 25:6–10a
On this mountain Yahweh Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain he will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more. The Lord Yahweh will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; he will take away the humiliation of his people all over the world: for Yahweh has spoken. On that day you will say: This is our God. We have waited for him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. For on this mountain the hand of Yahweh rests.
►Gospel: Matthew 15:29-37
Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee, and then went up into the hills where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the dumb, the blind, the lame, the crippled, and many with other infirmities. The people carried them to the feet of Jesus, and he healed them. All were astonished when they saw the dumb speaking, the lame walking, the crippled healed and the blind able to see; so they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus called his disciples and said to them, "I am filled with compassion for these people; they have already followed me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away fasting, or they may faint on the way." His disciples said to him, "And where shall we find enough bread in this wilderness to feed such a crowd?" Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They answered, "Seven, and a few small fish." So Jesus ordered the people to sit on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the small fish and gave thanks to God. He broke them and gave them to his disciples, who distributed them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the leftover broken pieces filled seven wicker baskets.
REFLECTION

Both Matthew and Mark report two miracles of the loaves. They seem to want to distinguish them, mentioning that in the first case there were "five loaves and two fish," but in the second case "seven loaves and a few fish." The first meal came at the end of his ministry in Galilee, and the second at the end of his brief ministry to the Gentiles. The third meal, the Last Supper, was at the end of his entire ministry. He always leaves us food – strength for the journey.

December 6 Thursday
1st Week of Advent
Nicholas


►1st Reading: Is 26:1–6
On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city, he himself has set up walls and fortifications to protect us. Open the gates! Let the righteous nation enter, she who is firm in faithfulness. You keep in perfect peace the one of steadfast mind, the one who trusts in you. Trust in Yahweh forever, for Yahweh is an everlasting Rock. He brought down those who dwell on high, he laid low the lofty city, he razed it to the ground, leveled it to the dust, Now it is trampled the poor and the lowly tread upon it.
►Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27
Jesus said to his disciples, "Not everyone who says to me: Lord! Lord! will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father. "So, then, anyone who hears these words of mine and acts accordingly is like a wise man, who built his house on rock. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house, but it did not collapse because it was built on rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house; it collapsed, and what a terrible fall that was!"
REFLECTION
What is sand but a billion tiny rocks? Look at a pinch of and under a microscope and you will think you are at a quarry. The only difference between a rock and sand is multiplicity. If my life is based on scores of different things, all disconnected, I will not know what I am or where I am or why. I need a basic unity in my life, a single fundamental thrust. And it has to be more than just talk: verbal connections, a few handy platitudes when I hit a philosophical mood with a few friends. It has to be my life, not just talk about my life. It has to go all the way down to rock-bottom.

December 7 Friday
1st Week of Advent
Ambrose

►1st Reading: Is 29:17–24
In a very short time, Lebanon will become a fruitful field and the fruitful field will be as a forest. On that day the deaf will hear the words of the book, and out of the dark and obscurity the eyes of the blind will see. The meek will find joy and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the scoffers gone forever, and all who plan to do evil will be cut down— those who by a word make you guilty, those who for a bribe can lay a snare and send home the just empty-handed. Therefore Yahweh, Abraham's redeemer, speaks concerning the people of Jacob: No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will his face grow pale. When he sees the work of my hands, his children again in his midst, they will sanctify my name, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and stand in awe of the God of Israel. Those who err in spirit will understand; those who murmur will learn.
►Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31
As Jesus moved on from Capernaum, two blind men followed him, shouting, "Son of David, help us!" When he was about to enter the house, the blind men caught up with him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do what you want?" They answered, "Yes, sir!" Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, "As you have believed, so let it be." And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus gave them a stern warning, "Be careful and let no one know about this." But as soon as they went away, they spread the news about him through the whole area.
REFLECTION

In a famous passage in his Confessions, St. Augustine wrote, "You called me, you cried aloud to me, you broke through my barrier of deafness. You shone upon me; your radiance enveloped me; you put my blindness to flight. You shed your fragrance about me; I drew breath and now I gasp for you. I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for you. You touched me and I burned for your peace (Book X, 27). Notice that he uses all five senses. This is normal in Augustine's writing: he is like an organist who uses the full range of the instrument. We are God's imperfect instruments; many of the reeds and pipes and applets are broken or missing. But the Lord is working on us: one day, we hope, we will fill the world with God's praise.

December 8 Saturday
Immaculate Conception

►1st Reading: Gen 3:9–15, 20*
Yahweh God called the man saying to him, "Where are you?" He said, "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." God said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?" The man answered, "The woman you put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it." God said to the woman, "What have you done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me and I ate." Yahweh God said to the serpent, "Since you have done that, you will eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel." The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.
►2nd Reading: Eph 1:3–6, 11–12*
Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, who in Christ has blessed us from heaven with every spiritual blessing. God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without sin in his presence. From eternity he destined us in love thus fulfilling his free and generous will. This goal suited him: that his loving-kindness which he granted us in his Beloved might finally receive all glory and praise. We were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of his glory.
►Gospel: Luke 1:26:38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, "Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you." Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, "Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob for--ever and his reign shall have no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be if I am a virgin?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child, and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible." Then Mary said, "I am the hand-maid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said." And the angel left her.
REFLECTION
Next to the crucifixion of Christ, perhaps no scene has been more often represented by Christian artists than the angel Gabriel's visit to Mary. We call it the Annunciation. Today's feast, however, is not directly about the conception of Jesus in his mother's womb, but rather about Mary's own conception – her having been conceived and born free of capital sin. Of course there is no Scriptural text to go with this doctrine, so the Liturgy uses Luke's account of Jesus' conception. This makes sense because it is only because of Jesus that we say things we say about Mary. Someone said that the best pictures of Mary have Jesus in them. In the Scriptures she is presented as the perfect disciple.

December 9 Sunday
2nd Sunday of Advent


►1st Reading: Baruch 5:1-9
Jerusalem, put off your garment of mourning and unhappiness, put on the splendor and glory of God forever. Wrap yourself in the mantle of holiness that comes from God, put on your head the crown of glory of the Eternal One. For God will show your splendor to every being under Heaven. He will call your name forever, "Peace in Justice" and "Glory in the Fear of the Lord." Rise up, Jerusalem, stand on the heights. Look towards the East and see your children gathered together from the setting of the sun to its rising, by the voice of the Holy One, rejoicing because God has remembered them. They left you on foot, taken away by the enemy. God will lead them back, carried gloriously like royal princes. For God has resolved to bring low every high mountain and the everlasting hills, to fill up the valleys and level out the ground, in order that Israel may walk in safety under the Glory of God. Even the forests and the fragrant trees will give shade to Israel at God's command. For God will lead Israel with joy by the light of his Glory, escorting them with his mercy and justice.
►2nd Reading: Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
When I pray for you, I pray with joy. I cannot forget all you shared with me in the service of the Gospel, from the first day until now. Since God began such a good work in you, I am certain that he will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus. God knows that I love you dearly with the love of Christ Jesus, and in my prayers I ask that your love may lead you each day to a deeper knowledge and clearer discernment, that you may have good criteria for everything. So you may be pure of heart and come blameless to the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of holiness that comes through Christ Jesus, for the glory and praise of God.
►Gospel: Luke 3:1-6
It was the fifteenth year of the rule of the Emperor Tiberius; Pontius Pilatus was governor of Judea; Herod ruled over Galilee, his brother Philip ruled over the country of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the High Priests at that time when the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah in the desert. John proclaimed a baptism for repentant people to obtain forgiveness of sins and he went through the whole country bordering the Jordan River. It was just as is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: listen to this voice crying out in the desert: prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight. The valleys will be filled and the mountains and hills made low. Everything crooked will be made straight and the rough paths smooth; and every mortal will see the salvation of God.
REFLECTION

Read
• Luke 3:1–6: John the Baptist is presented in the thick of his ministry.
Reflect
• John lived up to his calling as a precursor to Jesus. He carried out his mission as a prophet. How have you lived up to your vocation and mission so far?
Pray
• Pray for the strength to introduce Christ to others.
Act
• The best gift we can give this Christmas is to tell others about Christ and how he has changed your life.

December 10 Tuesday
2nd Week of Lent


►1st Reading: Is 35:1–10
Let the wilderness and the arid land rejoice, the desert be glad and blossom. Covered with flowers, it sings and shouts with joy, adorned with the splendor of Lebanon, the magnificence of Carmel and Sharon. They, my people, see the glory of Yahweh, the majesty of our God. Give vigor to weary hands and strength to enfeebled knees. Say to those who are afraid: "Have courage, do not fear. See, your God comes, demanding justice. He is the God who rewards, the God who comes to save you." Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unsealed. Then will the lame leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing and shout. For water will break out in the wilderness and streams gush forth from the desert. The thirsty ground will become a pool, the arid land springs of water. In the haunts where once reptiles lay, grass will grow with reeds and rushes. There will be a highway which will be called The Way of Holiness; no one unclean will pass over it nor any wicked fool stray there. No lion will be found there nor any beast of prey. Only the redeemed will walk there. For the ransomed of Yahweh will return: with everlasting joy upon their heads, they will come to Zion singing, gladness and joy marching with them, while sorrow and sighing flee away.
►Gospel: Luke 5:17-26
One day Jesus was teaching and many Pharisees and teachers of the Law had come from every part of Galilee and Judea and even from Jerusalem. They were sitting there while the power of the Lord was at work to heal the sick. Then some men brought a paralyzed man who lay on his mat. They tried to enter the house to place him before Jesus, but they couldn't find a way through the crowd. So they went up on the roof and, removing the tiles, they lowered him on his mat into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, "My friend, your sins are forgiven." At once the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to wonder, "This man insults God! Who can forgive sins but only God?" But Jesus knew their thoughts and asked them, "Why are you reacting like this? Which is easier to say: 'Your sins are forgiven,' or: 'Get up and walk'? Now you shall know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." And Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "Get up, take your mat and go home." At once the man stood before them. He took up the mat he had been lying on and went home praising God. Amazement seized the people and they praised God. They were filled with a holy fear and said, "What wonderful things we have seen today!"
REFLECTION

In Palestine, in the time of Jesus, it was taken for granted that suffering was punishment for sin. If someone was ill, that was proof positive that he was a sinner. So if Jesus had not healed the man in today's gospel story, the man would never believe that his sins had been forgiven. The scribes and Pharisees claimed he was blaspheming by telling the man his sins were forgiven; so to prove to them that the sins were forgiven, Jesus healed him. It was a proof in their own terms, and they had to concede, "we have seen strange things today" (v. 26).

December 11 Tuesday
2nd Week of Advent
Damasus


►1st Reading: Is 40:1–11
Be comforted, my people, be strengthened, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, proclaim to her that her time of bondage is at an end, that her guilt has been paid for, that from the hand of Yahweh she has received double punishment for all her iniquity. A voice cries, "In the wilderness prepare the way for Yahweh. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley will be raised up; every mountain and hill will be laid low. The stumbling blocks shall become level and the rugged places smooth. The glory of Yahweh will be revealed, and all mortals together will see it; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken." A voice says, "Cry." and I say, "What shall I cry?" "All flesh is grass, and all its beauty as the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of Yahweh blows upon it. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will forever stand." Go up onto the high mountain, messenger of Zion, lift up your voice with strength, fear not to cry aloud when you tell Jerusalem and announce to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! Here comes your God with might; his strong arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and here before him is his booty. Like a shepherd he tends his flock: he gathers the lambs in his arms, he carries them in his bosom, gently leading those that are with young.
►Gospel: Matthew 18:12-14
Jesus said to his disciples, "What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, won't he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you: when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it than about the ninety-nine that did not get lost. It is the same with your Father in heaven: there they don't want even one of these little ones to be lost."
REFLECTION

Jesus tells us that God is not interested in percentages. Compare it with the following, "Caiaphas, who was high priest that year said, 'You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed'" (Jn 11:49-50). In other words, since it was politically expedient it was all right to put an innocent man to death. Caiaphas was the high priest, but he thought like a politician, an unscrupulous one at that! It should serve for all time as a warning to all priests high and low.

December 12 Wednesday
Our Lady of Guadalupe

►1st Reading: Zec 2:14-17
"Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you," says Yahweh. "On that day, many nations will join Yahweh and be my people, but my dwelling is among you." The people of Judah will be for Yahweh as his portion in his holy land. He will choose Jerusalem again. Keep still in Yahweh's presence, for he comes, having risen from his holy dwelling."
►Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, "Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you." Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, "Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever and his reign shall have no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be if I am a virgin?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child, and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible." Then Mary said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said." And the angel left her.
REFLECTION

The angel's message has not left Mary alone with her problems. The angel spoke of her elderly cousin, Elizabeth. With her Mary will share her joy and her secret. Mary, quite young will learn form her many things that Joseph could not tell her. What has been foretold to Zechariah will now be fulfilled: "Your son will be filled with the Holy Spirit while in the womb of his mother." What is most important in history is not what is spectacular. The Gospel prefers to draw our attention to life-filled events.

December 13 Thursday
2nd Week of Advent
Lucy

►1st Reading: Is 41:13–20
For I, Yahweh, your God, take hold of your right hand and say to you: "Fear not, I am your assistance." Fear not, Jacob, poor worm, and you, people of Israel, so frail. I am your redeemer, says Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, your helper. I will make you a thresher, new and with sharp double teeth: you will thresh hills and mountains, crushing them and reducing them to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will carry them off and the storm will scatter them. But you will rejoice in Yahweh and glory in the Holy One of Israel. The poor and the afflicted seek water, and find none. Their tongues are parched with thirst. But I, Yahweh, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up streams over the barren heights and let the rivers flow through all the valleys; I will turn the desert into lakes and brooks and the thirsty earth into a land of springs. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle and the olive; I will plant in the wasteland fir, cypress and pine— that all may see and know, consider and understand, that the hand of Yahweh has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
►Gospel: Matthew 11:11-15
Jesus said to the crowds, "No one greater than John the Baptist has come forward among the sons of women, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered and the unyielding seize it. "Up to the time of John, there was only prophesy: all the prophets and the Law; and if you believe me, John is this Elijah, whose coming was predicted. Let anyone with ears listen!"
REFLECTION

Jesus once said that no prophet is honored in his own country. But he himself called his neighbor and cousin, John the Baptist, the greatest of all prophets. This was an amazing statement. He was calling him greater than Isaiah, Jeremiah, or even Elijah. Many of the world's idealists have their eyes focused so far beyond that they see nothing near them, but not so Jesus. Have you ever imagined him looking at you with deep appreciation?

December 14 Friday
2nd Week of Advent
John of the Cross


►1st Reading: Is 48:17–19
Thus says Yahweh, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, Yahweh, your God, teach you what is best for you; I lead you in the way that you must go. Had you paid attention to my commandments, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains, their names never cut off nor blotted out from my presence.
►Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19
Jesus said to the crowds, "Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain: 'We played the flute for you but you would not dance. We sang a funeral-song but you would not cry!' "For John came fasting and people said: 'He is possessed.' Then the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and people said: 'Look at this man! A glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet the outcome will prove Wisdom to be right."
REFLECTION

Advent is a season for learning how to desire in a way that leads to deeper life. The Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore gave beautiful expression to this in Gitanjali: "In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch his world at thy feet…. "Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation of thee. "Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to their mountain nests, let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home in one salutation to thee."

December 15 Saturday
2nd Week of Advent

►1st Reading: Sir 48:1–4, 9–11
Then came the prophet Elijah like a fire, his words a burning torch. He brought a famine on the people and in his zealous love had them reduced in number. Speaking in the name of the Lord he closed the heavens, and on three occasions called down fire. How marvelous you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Who could ever boast of being your equal? You were taken up by a whirlwind of flames in a chariot drawn by fiery horses. It was written that you should be the one to calm God's anger in the future before it broke out in fury, to turn the hearts of fathers to their sons and to restore the tribes of Jacob. Happy are those who will see you and those who die in love, for we too shall live.
►Gospel: Matthew 17:9a, 10-13
As they were coming down the mountainside, the disciples then asked Jesus, "Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?" And Jesus answered, "So it is: first comes Elijah to set everything as it has to be. But I tell you, Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him, but treated him as they pleased. And they will also make the Son of Man suffer." Then the disciples understood that Jesus was referring to John the Baptist.
REFLECTION

Jesus predicted his suffering, to prepare his disciples for the shock. But otherwise he never talked or complained about it. When you talk about your suffering you are creating a distance between it and you; you are not "suffering" your suffering ("to suffer" originally meant "to allow"). It cannot work its chemistry in you if you do not let it come near—in fact, nearer than near: you have to become one with it. When you are one with it, there is no distance and therefore no talk.

December 16 Sunday
3rd Sunday of Advent


►1st Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18
Cry out with joy, O daughter of Zion; rejoice, O people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! Yahweh has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. Yahweh, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune. On that day they will say to Jerusalem: Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for Yahweh your God is within you, Yahweh, saving warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for he has revived his love. For you he will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the Feast.
►2nd Reading: Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: rejoice and may everyone experience your gentle and understanding heart. The Lord is near: do not be anxious about anything. In everything resort to prayer and supplication together with thanksgiving and bring your requests before God. Then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
►Gospel: Luke 3:10-18
The people asked John, "What are we to do?" And John answered, "If you have two coats, give one to the person who has none; and if you have food, do the same." Even tax collectors came to be baptized and asked him, "Master, what must we do?" John said to them, "Collect no more than your fixed rate." People serving as soldiers asked John, "What about us? What are we to do?" And he answered, "Don't take anything by force or threaten the people by denouncing them falsely. Be content with your pay." The people were wondering about John's identity, "Could he be the Messiah?" Then John answered them, "I baptize you with water, but the one who is coming will do much more: he will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire. As for me, I am not worthy to untie his sandal. He comes with a winnowing fan to clear his threshing floor and gather the grain into his barn. But the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out." With these and many other words John announced the Good News to the people.
REFLECTION
Read
• Luke 3:10-18: The scene with John the Baptist is all preliminary to the main action: the coming of Jesus and his ministry.
Reflect
• John did not mince words. He spoke bluntly and courageously and paid the price for his directness. Too often, we Christians are tempted to compromise—in deference to mammon.
Pray
• O Lord, I ask for the strength to stand my ground in defense of the faith I profess. Grant me the grace to be steadfast in my commitment to Christ, even if that may not be well received by the world around me.
Act • Be prepared to "bite the bullet," to not hedge in taking a position that is not popular but is nonetheless true to the teaching of Jesus.

December 17 Monday
3rd Week of Advent


►1st Reading: Gen 49:2, 8–10
"Gather round, sons of Jacob. And listen to your father Israel! Judah, your brothers will praise you! You shall seize your enemies by the neck! Your father's sons shall bow before you. Judah, a young lion! You return from the prey, my son! Like a lion he stoops and crouches, and like a lioness, who dares to rouse him? The scepter shall not be taken from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs, and who has the obedience of the nations."
►Gospel: Mt 1:1–17
This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah's wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings: Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah. Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus who is called the Christ—the Messiah. There were then fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, and fourteen generations from David to the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the birth of Christ.
REFLECTION

It was of particular importance to show that Jesus was of King David's line, many of the New Testament writers keep stressing it. Many times in Gospels we hear the ordinary people calling him "Son of David." It was an expression of the long hope the Jews cherished that a descendant of David would lead them into a glorious future. The great tragedy was that when he came he was not recognized. We have to learn first how to wait, then perhaps our hope will be purified.

December 18 Tuesday
3rd Week of Advent

►1st Reading: Jer 23:5–8 Yahweh says,
"The day is coming when I will raise up a king who is David's righteous successor. He will rule wisely and govern with justice and righteousness. That will be a grandiose era when Judah will enjoy peace and Israel will live in safety. He will be called Yahweh-our-justice!" "The days are coming," says Yahweh, "when people shall no longer swear by Yahweh as the living God who freed the people of Israel from the land of Egypt. Rather, they will swear by Yahweh as the living God who restored the descendants of Israel from the northern empire and from all the lands where he had driven them, to live again in their own land!"
►Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
This is how Jesus Christ was born. Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her. While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him 'Jesus' for he will save his people from their sins." All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel which means: God-with-us. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do and he took his wife to his home. So she gave birth to a son and he had not had marital relations with her. Joseph gave him the name of Jesus.
REFLECTION
Christmas is now upon us—the season in which we celebrate the Savior's birth. But December 25th was almost certainly not the date of his birth! That date was not fixed on till the year 440. Would it affect your faith if you heard that Jesus was born in the middle of August, for instance, or at the end of February? Would it at least ruin your Christmas? Of course, symbolically it was a wonderful choice of date: at the dead of the year when days are shortest and the sun seems to be abandoning the world, we celebrate the feast of the Unconquered Son, the new Light, Christ, born into a despairing world.

December 19 Wednesday
3rd Week of Advent

►1st Reading: Jdg 13:2–7, 24–25a*
There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife could not bear children. The Angel of Yahweh appeared to this woman and said to her, "You have not borne children and have not given birth, but see, you are to conceive and give birth to a son. Never shall his hair be cut for he is consecrated to Yahweh. He shall begin the liberation of the Israelites from the Philistine oppression." The woman went to her husband and told him, "A messenger of God who bore the majesty of an angel spoke to me. I did not ask him where he came from nor did he tell me his name. The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew and Yahweh blessed him. Then the Spirit of Yahweh began to move him when he was in Mahane Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
►Gospel: Luke 1:5-25
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah, belonging to the priestly clan of Abiah. Elizabeth, Zechariah's wife, also belonged to a priestly family. Both of them were upright in the eyes of God and lived blamelessly in accordance with all the laws and commands of the Lord, but they had no child. Elizabeth could not have any and now they were both very old. Now, while Zechariah and those with him were fulfilling their office, it fell to him by lot, according to the custom of the priests, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. At the time of offering incense all the people were praying outside; it was then that an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. On seeing the angel, Zechariah was deeply troubled and fear took hold of him. But the angel said to him, "Don't be afraid, Zechariah, be assured that your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall name him John. He will bring joy and gladness to you and many will rejoice at his birth. This son of yours will be great in the eyes of the Lord. Listen: he shall never drink wine or strong drink, but he will be filled with holy spirit even from his mother's womb. Through him many of the people of Israel will turn to the Lord their God. He himself will open the way to the Lord with the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah; he will reconcile fathers and children, and lead the disobedient to wisdom and righteousness, in order to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." Zechariah said to the angel, "How can I believe this? I am an old man and my wife is elderly, too." The angel replied, "I am Gabriel, who stands before God, and I am the one sent to speak to you and bring you this good news! My words will come true in their time. But you would not believe and now you will be silent and unable to speak until this has happened." Meanwhile the people waited for Zechariah, and they were surprised that he delayed so long in the sanctuary. When he finally appeared, he could not speak to them and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He remained dumb and made signs to them. When his time of service was completed, Zechariah returned home and some time later Elizabeth became pregnant. For five months she kept to herself, remaining at home, and thinking, "What is the Lord doing for me! This is his time for mercy and for taking away my public disgrace."
REFLECTION

It is beautiful to meet old people whose spirit has not been soured by life. We meet several in the Liturgy around this time: Simeon and Anna, and now Zecheriah and Elizabeth. Verse 7 says they were both "very old." There is such emphasis on childhood at Christmas that we need to balance by looking out for the old: old age is honorable!

December 20 Thursday
3rd Week of Advent

►1st Reading: Is 7:10–14
Once again Yahweh addressed Ahaz, "Ask for a sign from Yahweh your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven." But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask, I will not put Yahweh to the test." Then Isaiah said, "Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: "The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel."
►Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, "Rejoice full of grace, the Lord is with you." Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, "Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus." He will be great and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever and his reign shall have no end. Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be if I am a virgin?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child, and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible." Then Mary said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said." And the angel left her.
REFLECTION

Someone said it was the most beautifully told story in all of literature. Perhaps for that reason, it is also one of the most often represented in Christian art, notably by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and Grünewald. In fact, there is a legend that Luke himself was a painter. The scene itself is the perfect image of listening to the Word of God. Mary listens with her whole being. She is an image of the Church. This is how the Church is to listen for God's word.

December 21 Friday
3rd Week of Advent
Peter Canisius


►1st Reading: Zep 3:14–18a (or Song 2:8–14)
Cry out with joy, O daughter of Zion; rejoice, O people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! Yahweh has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. Yahweh, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune. On that day they will say to Jerusalem: Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for Yahweh your God is within you, Yahweh, saving warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for he has revived his love. For you he will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the Feast. I will drive away the evil I warned you about, and you will no longer be shamed.
►Gospel: Luke 1:39-45
Mary then set out for a town in the Hills of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with holy spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, "You are most blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord's word would come true!"
REFLECTION
Mary's privilege was beyond reckoning: "of all women you are the most blessed," said Elizabeth. Yet Mary was to suffer grief and become the "Mother of Sorrows." She is a type of the Church: joy and sorrow will mingle in equal measure for any true disciple. Jesus did not come to make life easy, someone said, but to make people great.

December 22 Saturday
3rd Week of Advent

►1st Reading: 1 S 1:24–28
When the child was weaned, Hannah took him with her along with a three-year-old bull, a measure of flour and a flask of wine, and she brought him to Yahweh's house at Shiloh. The child was still young. After they had slain the bull, they brought the child to Eli. Hannah exclaimed: "Oh, my lord, look! I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to Yahweh. I asked for this child and Yahweh granted me the favor I begged of him. Now, I think, Yahweh is asking for this child. As long as he lives, he belongs to Yahweh." And they worshiped Yahweh there.
►Gospel: Luke 1:46-56
And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my savior! He has looked upon his servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is his Name! From age to age his mercy extends to those who live in his presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He held out his hand to Israel, his servant, for he remembered his mercy, even as he promised our fathers, Abraham and his descendants forever." Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home.

REFLECTION
The resentment of the weak against the strong is not always glorious. It is often full of hatred and bitterness. When revolutions fail, it is because the revolutionaries have forgotten one thing: they wanted to change everything, but they forgot to change themselves! This is why so often in history the wheel does the full circle and the oppressed become after a time the oppressors. If yesterday, the Gospel taught us how to wait, today, it teaches us how to make a real revolution: and we know that these two are closely connected.


December 23 Sunday
4th Sunday of Advent


►1st Reading: Micah 5:1-4
The Lord says this, "You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, so small that you are hardly named among the clans of Judah, from you shall I raise the one who is to rule over Israel. For he comes forth from of old, from the ancient times. Yahweh, therefore, will abandon Israel until such time as she who is to give birth has given birth. Then the rest of his deported brothers will return to the people of Israel. He will stand and shepherd his flock with the strength of Yahweh, in the glorious Name of Yahweh, his God. They will live safely while he wins renown to the ends of the earth. He shall be peace." When the Assyrian invades our land and sets foot on our territory, we will raise against him not one but seven shepherds, eight warlords.
►2nd Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10
This is why on entering the world, Christ says: You did not desire sacrifice and offering; you were not pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said: "Here I am. It was written of me in the scroll. I will do your will, O God." First he says: Sacrifice, offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire nor were you pleased with them-although they were required by the Law. Then he says: Here I am to do your will. This is enough to nullify the first will and establish the new. Now, by this will of God, we are sanctified at once by the sacrifice of the body of Christ Jesus.
►Gospel: Luke 1:39-45
Mary then set out for a town in the Hills of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with holy spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, "You are most blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord's word would come true!"
REFLECTION

Read
• Luke 1:39–45: Elizabeth's words give us a deeper understanding of who Jesus is. The words of both Mary and Elizabeth shed light on the meaning of the events recounted.
Reflect
• "God's in His heaven—all's right with the world!" Contrary to the impression we sometimes have, God has his steady hand on the helm. He is always at work in our world.
Pray • God, grant me the insight into everyday happenings to see your love and care at work in our world.
Act • Open yourself to the joy of seeing God working in your world.


December 24 Monday
4th Week of Advent

►1st Reading: 2 S 7:1–5, 8b–12, 14a, 16*
David said to Nathan the prophet, "Look, I live in a house of cedar but the ark of God is housed in a tent." Nathan replied, "Do as it seems fit to you for Yahweh is with you." But that very night, Yahweh's word came to Nathan, "Go and tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh says: Are you able to build a house for me to live in? "Now you will tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh of hosts says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great as the name of the great ones on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over my people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. Yahweh also tells you that he will build you a house. "When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you and I will make his reign secure. I will be a father to him and he shall be my son. If he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod, as men do. Your house and your reign shall last forever before me, and your throne shall be forever firm."
►Gospel: Luke 1:67-79
Zechariah, filled with holy spirit, sang this canticle, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has come and redeemed his people. He has raised up for us a victorious Savior in the house of David his servant, as he promised through his prophets of old, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes. He has shown mercy to our fathers and remembered his holy covenant, the oath he swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve him fearlessly as a holy and righteous people all the days of our lives. And you, my child, shall be called prophet of the Most High, for you shall go before the Lord to prepare the way for him and enable his people to know of their salvation when he comes to forgive their sins. This is the work of the mercy of our God, who comes from on high as a rising sun shining on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, and guiding our feet into the way of peace."
REFLECTION

Zechariah's great canticle is a song of praise. How refreshing an atmosphere praise creates! And there is no violence just behind his praise, as there is in the Psalms. There is no second side to him. He is the right one to lead us to the crib of the Prince of Peace. Perhaps you can compose your own Benedictus canticle this evening—a whole-hearted expression of praise and thanks for all that has been: for God's providence over your life and your family; for the grace of Christ living in you; for the gift of perseverance; for having been guided into the Way of Peace!

December 25 Tuesday
Christmas


►1st Reading: Is 52:7–10*
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who herald peace and happiness, who proclaim salvation and announce to Zion: "Your God is king!" Break into shouts of joy, O ruins of Jerusalem, for Yahweh consoles his people and redeems Jerusalem. Yahweh has bared his holy arm in the eyes of the nations; all the ends of the earth, in alarm, will witness God's salvation.
►2nd Reading: Heb 1:1–6*
God has spoken in the past to our ancestors through the prophets, in many different ways, although never completely, but in our times he has spoken definitively to us through his Son. He is the one God appointed heir of all things, since through him he unfolded the stages of the world. He is the radiance of God's Glory and bears the stamp of God's hidden being, so that his powerful word upholds the universe. And after taking away sin, he took his place at the right hand of the divine Majesty in heaven.
►Gospel: ohn 1:1-5, 9-14
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; he was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in him, life which for humans was also light. Light that shines in the dark: light that darkness could not overcome. For the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was already in the world and through him the world was made, the very world that did not know him. He came to his own, yet his own people did not receive him; but all who have received him he empowers to become children of God for they believe in his Name. These are born, but without seed or carnal desire or will of man: they are born of God. And the Word was made flesh; he had his tent pitched among us, and we have seen his Glory, the Glory of the only Son coming from the Father: fullness of truth and loving-kindness.
REFLECTION

The Savior is born—not only in Bethlehem long ago, but now today in our world, in our hearts. That birth long ago, said Meister Eckhart, has this new birth as its purpose: he was born then so that he could be born now. The Light has come into the world: even darkness itself helps to announce it. In Western countries, Christmas comes in the very dead of the year when days are shortest and the sun seems to be abandoning the world. Then we celebrate the feast of the Unconquered Son, the new Light, Christ, born today, here.

December 26 Wednesday
Stephen, 1st Martyr


►1st Reading: Acts 6:8–10; 7:54–59
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. When they heard this reproach, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against Stephen. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God's right hand, so he declared: "I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God." But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
►Gospel: Matthew 10:17-22
Jesus said to his disciples, "Be on your guard with respect to people, for they will hand you over to their courts and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, and so you may witness to them and the pagans. "But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say and how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it is not you who will speak; but it will be the Spirit of your Father in you. "Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved."
REFLECTION

Why are we asked to think about death on the very first day after Christmas? Perhaps it is because we need to remember the kind of world Christ is born into: a world that will try to kill the truth by killing the bearer of the truth. We could easily become sentimental about the birth of a child; but the feast of the first Christian martyr is a reminder of reality. The Word made flesh will submit himself to the worst that our world can do!

December 27 Thursday
John, Apostle and Evangelist

►1st Reading: 1 Jn 1:1–4
This is what has been from  the beginning, and what we have heard and have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, I mean the Word who is Life… The Life made itself known, we have seen Eternal Life and we bear witness, and we are telling you of it. It was with the Father and made himself known to us. So we tell you what we have seen and heard, that you may be in fellowship with us, and us, with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And we write this that our joy may be complete.
►Gospel: John 20:1a, 2-8
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala ran to Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved. And she said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don't know where they have laid him." Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came following him and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around his head was not lying flat like the other linen cloths but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and believed.
REFLECTION

After the first martyr, we are now brought into the calm and wise presence of John the Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple. He was perhaps the youngest of the Twelve, but he lived in the advanced old age and died a natural death, the last of the apostles to die. It shows that we can witness to Christ not only with our death but even more importantly with our life. They say he lived for about another sixty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, they were sixty years of bearing witness to the greatest story ever told.

December 28 Friday
Holy Innocents, Martyrs


►1st Reading: 1 Jn 1:5—2:2
We heard his message from him and announce it to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him. If we say we are in fellowship with him, while we walk in darkness, we lie instead of being in truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we are in fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, purifies us from all sin. If we say, "We have no sin," we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness. If we say that we do not sin, we make God a liar, his word is not in us. My little children, I write to  you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just One. He is the sacrificial victim for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
►Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18
After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you for Herod will soon be looking for the child in order to kill him." Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled: I called my son out of Egypt. When Herod found out that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighborhood who were two years old or under. This was done in line with what he had learned from the wise men about the time when the star appeared. In this way, what the prophet Jeremiah had said was fulfilled: A cry is heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation: Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are no more.
REFLECTION
This reading is a series of echoes of earlier events in Jewish history and echoes of Jewish Scriptures. Jesus is represented as re-enacting in his own life the career of Israel, for he is the new Israel. "I called my son out of Egypt" (verse 15) reads in full, "When Israel was a child I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt: This makes it very clear that Jesus represents Israel; the people, or rather the new Israel, the new chosen people of God. When we lose sight of the symbolic background of a passage in the Scriptures we are bound to falsify it. The New Testament is a love story, and everything in it is about Jesus even when it appears to be about others.

December 29 Saturday
5th Day: Octave of Christmas

Thomas Becket


►1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:3–11
How can we know that we know him? If we fulfill his commands. If you say, "I know him," but do not fulfill his commands, you are a liar and the truth is not in you. But if you keep his word, God's love is made complete in you. This is how we know that we are in him: he who claims to live in him must live as he lived. My dear friends, I am not writing you a new commandment, but reminding you of an old one, one you had from the beginning. This old commandment is the word you have heard. But, in a way, I give it as a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light already shines. If you claim to be in the light but hate your brother, you are still in darkness. If you love your brothers and sisters, you remain in the light and nothing in you will make you fall. But if you hate your brother you are in the dark and walk in darkness without knowing where you go, for the darkness has blinded you."
►Gospel: Luke 2:22-35
When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God, saying, "Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see. Here is the light you will reveal to the nations and the glory of your people Israel." His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, "See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes of Israel. He shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul. Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light."
REFLECTION

Nunc dimitis, "Now you can dismiss your servant, O Lord in peace…" Only Luke's Gospel carries this beautiful canticle. Every night of the year, the Church uses it in its Night Prayer. It is the serene and joyful prayer of an old man at the end of his life. It was a fitting way to end one's life. It is a fitting way to end the day. And it is also a fitting way for us to end the year. "For my eyes have seen your salvation!"

December 30 Sunday
Feast of the Holy Family

►1st Reading: 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
Hannah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son and called him Samuel because she said: "I have asked Yahweh to give him to me." Once more Elkanah went to the temple with his family to offer his yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow to Yahweh. Hannah would not go along but she said to her husband, "I will bring the child there as soon as he is weaned. He shall be presented to Yahweh and stay there forever." When the child was weaned, Hannah took him with her along with a three-year-old bull, a measure of flour and a flask of wine, and she brought him to Yahweh's house at Shiloh. The child was still young. After they had slain the bull, they brought the child to Eli. Hannah exclaimed: "Oh, my lord, look! I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to Yahweh. I asked for this child and Yahweh granted me the favor I begged of him. Now, I think, Yahweh is asking for this child. As long as he lives, he belongs to Yahweh." And they worshiped Yahweh there.
►2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-2, 21-24
See what singular love the Father has for us: we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet when he appears in his glory, we know that we shall be like him, for then we shall see him as he is. When our conscience does not condemn us, dear friends, we may have complete confidence in God. Then whatever we ask we shall receive, since we keep his commands and do what pleases him. His command is that we believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another, as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us that we know he lives in us.
►Gospel: Luke 2:41-52
Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, he went up with them according to the custom for this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem and his parents did not know it. They thought he was in the company and after walking the whole day they looked for him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for him, and on the third day they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents were very surprised when they saw him and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for you." Then he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Do you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand this answer. Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and he continued to be subject to them. As for his mother, she kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and age, and in divine and human favor.
REFLECTION

Read
• Luke 2:41–52: On the occasion of a Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Jesus—without his parents' knowledge—remains behind at the temple.
Reflect
• Just short of the beginning of the account of his public life, Jesus is to be found at prayer. At the conclusion of his life on earth, his ascension, Jesus takes leave of his disciples by blessing them—a gesture of prayer. Jesus begins and concludes his ministry on a note of prayer.
Pray
• Following in your footsteps, O Christ, may prayer be an integral part of my life and work—no task begun, no task concluded without prayer.
Act
• Enhance your prayer life by Read •ing on the subject.

December 31 Monday
7th Day: Octave of Christmas Sylvester I

►1st Reading: 1 Jn 2:18–21
My dear children, it is the last hour. You were told that an antichrist would come; but several antichrists have already come, by which we know that it is now the last hour. They went out from us though they did not really belong to us. Had they belonged to us, they would have remained with us. So it became clear that not all of us were really ours. But you have the anointing from the Holy One, so that all of you have true wisdom. I write to you, not because you lack knowledge of the truth, but because you already know it, and lies have nothing in common with the truth.
►Gospel: John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; he was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in him, life which for humans was also light. Light that shines in the dark: light that darkness could not overcome. A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light but a witness to introduce the Light. For the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was already in the world and through him the world was made, the very world that did not know him. He came to his own, yet his own people did not receive him; but all who have received him he empowers to become children of God for they believe in his Name. These are born, but without seed or carnal desire or will of man: they are born of God. And the Word was made flesh; he had his tent pitched among us, and we have seen his Glory, the Glory of the only Son coming from the Father: fullness of truth and loving-kindness. John bore witness to him openly, saying: This is the one who comes after me, but he is already ahead of me for he was before me. From his fullness we have all received, favor upon favor. For God had given us the Law through Moses, but Truth and Loving-kindness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God-the-Only-Son made him known: the one who is in and with the Father.
REFLECTION

Someone called this passage from the beginning of John's Gospel "one of the greatest adventures of religious thought ever achieved by the human mind." In the beginning… the opening words echo the opening words of the whole Bible. In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The first words of the story of redemption echo the first words of the story of creation. It is right that we are meditating on the beginning just as we end the year. There are no dead ends for a Christian; the end is always the beginning of something immense. With Simeon and Anna we look to the new deed, the new creation, the new beginning…