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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Weekly meditation

 February 7, 2016 - Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Teaching the Thickheaded
February 7, 2016 - Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time


 

Luke 5:1-11


While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Simon said in reply, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets." When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for revealing your tender, merciful, Sacred Heart to us. Your Heart gives me the confidence to turn back to you as many times as I fall. I know that I hurt you the most when I neglect to trust in your infinite love for me. And so now in this meditation, good and kind Jesus, I intend to rest in your love.

Petition: Lord, give me faith so I can be a docile instrument in your great work of saving souls.


  1. Jesus Sees Our Hearts: In today’s Gospel we see Our Lord presented as a wonderful teacher of souls. First, Christ is a teacher to the multitude whose hearts were opened to his teaching by his marvelous miracles. He is also more subtly presented as a teacher to Saint Peter, whom he would later choose to lead his Church. His first lesson to Peter, besides the one Peter hears Jesus preach from his boat, is the very personal message of his worth in Christ’s eyes. Jesus provides a miracle just for Peter—not to heal him of some infirmity, but to demonstrate Christ’s overflowing love for him. He speaks loudly through his action of the miraculous catch. Whether through want or abundance, health or infirmity, am I able to discern Our Lord’s lessons for me in my life? Am I open to his lessons of love?



  1. From the Depths of Our Faith: Our Lord implemented a deeper lesson plan with Peter in order to prepare him for his great mission of being the first pope. Peter would need to move to a more supernatural level if Christ were to entrust him with the keys of the Kingdom of heaven. Testing his generosity, Christ commandeered Peter’s boat in order to teach the crowds gathered at the shore. Then Jesus led Peter to make an act of faith: he asked him to set out into the deep and drop his nets at a time when it didn’t appear opportune to fish. If Peter were to answer the supernatural call to be a fisher of men, he would have to depend on Our Lord’s working of miracles. Only by the grace of Christ is God able to redeem what humanly seems unsalvageable.



  1. A Lesson of Mercy: Mercy is God’s divine method of teaching: by showing mercy to sinners, Christ teaches us important lessons. Peter’s intentions are discovered and revealed in his confession at the shore. Peter confesses his lack of faith despite his “obedience” to Our Lord’s command to cast out into the deep. Our Lord taught Peter a great lesson when he blessed Peter’s feeble and meager faith with a contrastingly abundant catch of fish. Does my faith in God show in my actions? Am I willing to respond generously in the work of the New Evangelization?


Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me with the grace of your mercy to accept  what seems unfeasible in human terms. Help me to accept your call for me to work in establishing a civilization of love in today’s world. Help me Lord, to be always faithful to your friendship, sincere in my faith, and diligent in service to you and my neighbors in need.

Resolution: Today I will pray and make a sacrifice to Our Lord so that he sends generous and holy vocations to the Church, especially where she needs them the most.

 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-02-07

Faith and Christ’s Healing Power
February 8, 2016 - Monday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time


Mark 6:53-56


After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.

Introductory Prayer: I believe in your power of healing grace, in your capacity to heal both physically and spiritually. I come to you in spiritual illness and weakness, confident in your desire to heal and strengthen me. I humbly offer you my soul, wounded and aching from the spiritual cancer of self-love, pride and self-sufficiency. I abandon myself to your loving mercy. Thank you, Lord, for watching over me and loving me unconditionally.

Petition: Lord, heal my heart and soul, and help me to do what I must do to maintain my spiritual health.


  1. “People recognized him, and started hurrying all through the countryside.” For the most part, the people in this Gospel were not “hurrying throughout the countryside” to invite others to come and seek forgiveness and spiritual healing from Jesus. They were in haste, yes, but in haste to bring the sick so that the Lord would heal them from their physically infirmities. How blind is the human heart that often fears physical illness more than spiritual infirmities and falling out of God’s grace! The gravest ills we can suffer are those that come from within us: “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:19-20).



  1. “They laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak.” Holy men and women throughout the centuries have firmly believed that “touching” Christ through receiving the sacraments brings about spiritual healing and redemption. “My heart has been wounded by many sins,” St. Ambrose used to pray before he celebrated Mass, “my mind and tongue carelessly left unguarded. Lord of kindness and power, in my lowliness and need I am turning to you, the fountain of mercy; I am hurrying to you to be healed; I am taking refuge under your protection. I am longing to meet you, not as my Judge but as my Savior. Lord, I am not ashamed to show you my wounds. Only you know how many and how serious my sins are, and though they could make me fear for my salvation, I am putting my hope in your mercies, which are beyond count. Look on me with mercy, then, Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King, God and man, crucified for our sake. I am putting my trust in you, the fountain that will never stop flowing with merciful love: hear me and forgive my sins and weaknesses.”



  1. “All those who touched him were cured.” All those who touched Jesus Christ with the touch of faith were cured: the Canaanite woman, the blind man, the ten lepers, the man with a withered hand, the paralytic, Jairus’ daughter, the woman with the hemorrhage, the boy with a demon, the Gerasene demoniac, the deaf man. All these people in the Gospel had something in common: it was their faith that allowed the Lord to heal them. The phrase used in the case of the woman with the hemorrhage is telling: “power had gone out from him” (Mark 5:30). Faith is one of the most powerful acts of the human person, since God himself chooses to be moved by it. How strong is my faith in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do I reach out and touch him in faith every day? Do I allow him to act in my life through faith? What am I waiting for?


Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are all powerful and the source of my salvation and spiritual healing. In this prayer I am reaching out to touch you in faith, even though I am unworthy and my faith is weak. Heal me, Lord. Give me the strength to resist the power of evil in my life and to adhere to your grace and goodness. Lord, I believe; increase my faith.

Resolution: I will offer up short acts of faith in the Lord throughout the day.

 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-02-08

True Worship
February 9, 2016 - Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time


Mark 7:1-13


Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. [For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles (and beds).] So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?" He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ´This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.´ You disregard God´s commandment but cling to human tradition." He went on to say, "How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ´Honor your father and your mother,´ and ´Whoever curses father or mother shall die.´ Yet you say, ´If a person says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"´ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for your Gospel and for all the truth it teaches me. Thank you for warning me of attitudes and dispositions that could become temptations for me. I love you for your goodness and mercy, and I entrust myself into your loving hands.

Petition: Lord, help me to serve you sincerely, in truth and in love.


  1. “This people honors me only with lip service, while their hearts are far from me.” Jesus calls his disciples to authenticity. Too often so-called disciples give the impression of following him, while at the same time accepting sensual loves and lusts in their heart. Although the Pharisees display the outward trappings of holiness, the way they treat Jesus and others betrays their true character. Jesus would call them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 15:27): clean and bright on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones within. Self-righteousness would be their downfall. Such dispositions may lend the proud man certain short-term security, but it will always be illusory since it is not rooted in the truth. Is there any way in which I also pay tribute to God with my lips but say something else in my heart, or behave contrariwise in my actions.



  1. “The worship they offer me is worthless.” True worship begins with humility, when the soul recognizes that it possesses no good in and of itself, but that all of its goodness comes from God. The Pharisees offered no real worship to God since, in effect, they worshipped only themselves by relying more on their talents and goodness than on the goodness that comes from God. It is not insignificant that when Jesus describes a Pharisee’s prayer in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, he says “The Pharisee prayed this prayer to himself” (Luke 18:11). How can I make sure that my prayer is truly devoted, meaning that I am addressing Our Lord with the words of my heart?



  1. "You make God’s word null and void.” The Pharisees used the talents and gifts God had given them not for God’s glory, but for their own personal gain, whether that gain consisted of praise and admiration or personal comfort and ease. True worship of God, truly placing God above all else, involves using the things God created as means to reaching him. As number 226 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:


My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.

My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.

My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.”

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for my life and all the good things you have given me. Help me to realize that you have created everything and that all I have is from you. May I use all I have to serve others and as a means to come closer to you, the source of all good.

Resolution: I will examine my conscience to see if I am using any of my gifts and talents to glorify or serve only myself. If so, I’ll strive to put these same gifts at the service of God.

 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-02-09

The Joy of Lent
February 10, 2016 - Ash Wednesday


Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18


Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, they neglect their appearance so that they may appear to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy in my daily actions. I hope to learn to trust more in your power, your promise, and your grace. Lord, I wish to start this season of Lent with a sincere desire to grow in love, preparing myself worthily to celebrate the mysteries of your passion, death and resurrection.

Petition: Lord, help me learn to change what needs to change in my life.


  1. Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving: As we begin the Lenten season, we are reminded of the need to make reparation for our sins and be reconciled with God. Any attempt to build a spiritual life that neglects the pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving is building on sand. Prayer purifies our intentions and relates all we do to God. Fasting detaches us from our comfort and from ourselves. Almsgiving reflects our brotherhood with the poor of Jesus’ family and reminds us that our true wealth is not in things, but in the love of God. We all need to do a reality check on our spiritual lives to make sure we are committed to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.



  1. Lose the Show: Jesus is severe in criticizing the hypocrites who parade their works before others to get attention. Such parades are of no use in pleasing God or making up for our sins; they only add to our sinfulness. He encourages us to pray in private, to fast and give alms in secret, without calling the attention of others to what we are doing. In this way we can be sure we are doing all for love of God and not for love of self. Those who make an outward show of piety or generosity “have already received their reward” in this world, and they store up no treasure in heaven. Let us work silently and discreetly, with no other intention but pleasing God alone.



  1. Joyful Sacrifice: Nothing brings us closer to Christ than walking alongside him and doing the things he did for love of God the Father. During Lent, God invites us to purify our hearts and minds and to turn our intentions back to him. Christ’s public ministry was lived each day in loving obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lenten program should reflect that same simple, yet demanding, obedience and love. What can I do for God today? What sacrifice can I offer that will be pleasing to him? Once I decide on it, I will carry it out with no one else knowing.


Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me the grace to begin this Lent with great enthusiasm and love. Help me live it with joy, knowing that I am living it in your presence to please you and you alone.

Resolution: I will make a Lenten program of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-02-10

Suffering: A Highway to God
February 11, 2016 - Thursday after Ash Wednesday


By Father Paul Hubert, LC


Luke 9:22-25


Jesus said to his disciples, "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you did not flee before suffering, but did what your love for us told you to do. I trust in you. Lord Jesus, you went towards Jerusalem in the hope that we would return to the Father’s home. I hope in you, for you did not put a limit on your love. Even when you were rejected and put to death by your enemies, you prayed for them. Lord, I love you.

Petition: Lord, help me to see the redeeming power of the cross you have laid on my shoulders and embrace it.


  1. Suffering is an Opportunity: Suffering is present at every turn of life. Our tendency is to flee from it, to avoid it. This holds true from the small scratch we get when we first fall off our bicycle to the profound sorrow we feel when a friend betrays us. When we feel pain, we take every means in our power to get rid of it. In today’s society, there is a medicine to alleviate any pain or suffering we might feel. Yet, in every suffering there is a lesson, and we remember the lesson better when we have suffered to learn it. Christ foresaw his rejection, suffering, and death, yet did not flee them. He embraced them as a way of showing his most profound love: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). It is what parents do when they give their children their time and attention. It is what real friends do when they serve without counting the cost. It is what we do when we help someone in need.



  1. Love the Fight Not the Fall: Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed. Slowly but surely, we may tire of our defects and their effects. The constant, on-going battle to follow Christ may slowly wear us down. The path to perfection in the virtues is surely full of rewards, but it has its share of wear-and-tear. But it does not matter if we fall a thousand times, as long as we love the fight and not the fall. It therefore makes no sense to despair, especially when we fight with Christ on our side. The effort of a prolonged battle can please Christ more than an easy and comfortable victory. Christ reminds us: He will suffer greatly, be rejected and killed, and everyone who wants to be his disciple must take up his cross and follow him.



  1. When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong: With the coming of Christ on the earth, suffering took on a new meaning. He gave us the possibility to give to suffering, illness and pain—the consequences of sin—the redemptive and salvific meaning of love. When the apostles asked our Lord who was responsible for the misfortune of a man blind from birth, Christ answered: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (John 9:3). Misfortune and weaknesses made St. Paul exclaim: “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). It is through denial of self, through the recognition of our weakness, through willfully embracing our trials and sufferings, that we can show the strength of God and the wonders of God in our life.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to see all that happens to me, even pain, suffering and illness, as an opportunity to love, grow in love and offer you my love.

Resolution: Before doing something today I will pause to examine the motives for which I do it: is it for me or for God? If it is only for me, I will rectify my intentions or leave the deed aside, especially if I have the opportunity to do something else for God or to serve God in my neighbor.

 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-02-11

Time to fast
February 12, 2016 - Friday after Ash Wednesday


Matthew 9:14-15


The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you for everything. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy. I wish to trust in your power, your promise, and your grace every day. Today I intend, with your help, to follow you along the way of the cross with love and generosity so as to draw close to you.

Petition: Lord, let me learn to embrace sacrifice as the way of reparation and purification.


  1. These Are the Days: Jesus said the time would come when his disciples would fast. Now that the Lord has returned in glory to the Father, it is up to us to continue the work of salvation, “what is lacking in Christ´s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24), as St. Paul says. We join our sacrifice to that of Jesus in order to imitate him and bring grace to ourselves and to others. Every Christian life must incorporate a healthy spirit of sacrifice and self-denial.



  1. Feel the Hunger: The hunger we experience when we fast is a symbol of the deeper spiritual hunger we should feel for God and for heaven. This world often makes us all too comfortable, and we easily forget that this is not our true home. We are pilgrims traveling through a foreign land, far from our final resting place. Fasting reminds us of the longing a traveler has to reach his destination safely and finally to rejoice in being home for good. The true Christian looks forward with hope toward heaven, where he will rest with God forever in true happiness. He knows that all the good things this world offers are only shadows of the wonderful things God has planned for those who love him (cf. Romans 8:28).



  1. Hunger for Souls: From the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” That thirst was for all people to be reconciled to the Father. It was a thirst for souls to return to the love of God and find their way to the heavenly Kingdom. Voluntary sacrifice and self-denial, if we offer it for the conversion of the hearts of others, brings them the grace they need to change and turn back to God. No one can convert himself, and no one in serious sin can merit his way to the grace of God. We need to intercede by means of our personal prayer and sacrifice to gain others the supernatural grace they need to overcome their obstacles. The greatest act of charity we can perform and the greatest joy we can experience is to bring a soul back to the Lord. How many souls are waiting for our prayer and sacrifice?


Conversation with Christ: Lord, make me generous and joyful in sacrifice, knowing that sacrifice unites me closer to you and wins the grace of conversion for so many souls you love and for whom you died.

Resolution: I will choose one person I know who needs God’s grace and offer all my sacrifices today for them.

 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-02-12

Forgiveness: The First Step to Love
February 13, 2016 - Saturday after Ash Wednesday


By Father Paul Hubert, LC


Luke 5:27-32


Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."

Introductory Prayer: Sunny days, cloudy days and rainy days all come from you, Lord. You surprise us each day as you make each day different to bring us closer to your coming, in which we hope. Lord, your love explains everything and guides all things. I wish to respond to your infinite mercy and love by loving you more each day.

Petition: Lord you know how difficult it is for me to forgive. Help me to do so always.


  1. The Doctor Who Cures the Sick: What a great reply: “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” It is a statement open to all humanity in need of redemption. It is an affirmation that shows us that God is not exclusive. Christ has come for all sinners, and he extends to everyone his call to repent and be transformed by his grace. It shows us that Christ wants to reach everybody and forgive everybody. He is not like us, who discriminate and hold grudges. When someone sins more, God makes particular efforts to reach that person and offer his pardon and his elevating grace. What an example for us to follow when we have difficult moments in our dealings with others! Christ teaches us patience. Christ teaches us that we must love and build bridges whenever the opportunity arises.



  1. We Must Evangelize the Sick: Christ sets the example and sends us to evangelize people who do not know him, or who offend him knowingly, half-knowingly, or even unknowingly. Interestingly enough, it is those who oppose Christ whom he calls the “righteous,” because they are inflexible, and their criteria cannot be bent. Christ calls us, on the other hand, to forgive, as often as is necessary (Luke 17:4). We need to learn how to forgive in a world that tells us to be tough and not to let anything get past us.



  1. Forgiveness Can Only Come from Love and Lead to Love: This Gospel reminds us of the story of the adulterous woman who was brought before Jesus. The Law of Moses was clear, yet Jesus knew that something had to be changed in order for man to be able to reach heaven. He knew that only forgiveness and love for everyone would unite all men in paradise. He knew all men had sinned, and therefore they could not accuse someone else without indirectly accusing themselves. That is why Christ answered to those who accused the adulterous woman, “Let the one who is sinless cast the first stone” (John 8:7). We are all sinners. We all need to be forgiven and to forgive one another. We all need to allow love to invade our hearts so that it may be the bond that reunites us.


Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for giving me the solution to my life. Help me to forgive wholeheartedly those who have done me wrong. Help me to love them, pray for them and do good to them even though they hinder and harm me. Help me to strive tirelessly to bring to the world your solution to division, discrimination, hatred and war.

Resolution: I will think of the people I dislike or am indifferent to, and I will consider at least one of their good qualities. If the opportunity arises, I will speak well of them, and if I can, I will do a good deed for them.

 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-02-13

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