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Teaching the Thickheaded
February 7, 2016 - Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
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.
- 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?
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
- 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?
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
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
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Faith and Christ’s Healing Power
February 8, 2016 - Monday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
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
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.
- “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
- “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.”
- “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
Resolution: I will offer up short acts of faith
in the Lord throughout the day.
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February 9, 2016 - Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
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.
- “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.
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?
- "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:
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.”
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.
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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
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
Petition: Lord, help me learn to change what needs to
change in my life.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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:
Suffering: A Highway to God
February 11, 2016 - Thursday after Ash Wednesday
By Father Paul Hubert, LC
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
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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:
Time to fast
February 12, 2016 - Friday after Ash Wednesday
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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
I will choose one person I know who needs God’s
grace and offer all my sacrifices today for them.
|FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN:
Forgiveness: The First Step to Love
February 13, 2016 - Saturday after Ash Wednesday
By Father Paul Hubert, LC
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
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
Petition: Lord you know how difficult it is for me
to forgive. Help me to do so always.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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