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Weekly meditation

 February 1, 2015. Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Jesus and the Evil One: A Major Mismatch
February 1, 2015. Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are -- the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Introductory Prayer: Oh, Holy One of God, what do you have to do with us?  We know that you have the words of eternal life and can command the evil one to depart. You have power over all evil and can conquer all sin. You are ready to do this because of your unconditional love for us, and I am ready to listen humbly to your word and respond, so that I may be healed and have life forever with you.

Petition: Jesus, help me to trust in your power to heal me of my sin.

1. His Way of Teaching: Jesus teaches with authority –– of course he does, because he is the Son of God! He is the one who has the words of eternal life. He has been at the Father’s side from all eternity. He has come to teach us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. So many voices in our world today can confuse us and make us doubt our faith. Can we not just listen with hearts of faith to the simple message that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

2. Jesus Is in Charge: Jesus commands the evil one, and he submits. The evil one fears Christ’s power. The evil one is silenced and chased out by a mere word from Christ. So often we worry and fear that sin and evil have a grip on us that we cannot break. We worry we cannot live up to what the Lord expects of us. Yet, his word makes that evil one flee immediately. He can do the same in our lives if we put our total trust in him.

3. The Evil I Cannot Overcome: What is the major evil or sin that I have not been able to expel? What is the primary fault or defect in my life? All my effort to improve has been blocked by this insidious power, greater than my virtue. I need to turn to Christ and put my trust in his word of life. I need to ask him to free me from that power which consumes me and holds me back from loving and giving myself to him and to others.

Conversation with Christ: Speak that word of life, Lord. Free me from the power of the evil one. Do not let him run my life or keep me from your love. Give me your grace and I will be satisfied.

Resolution: I will be bold and trust in the Lord’s power to help me overcome my faults and the power of the devil’s influence on my life.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015-02-01

Speaking from the Heart of Christ
February 2, 2015. Feast of the Presentation of the Lord


Luke 2:22-40

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord," and to offer the sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons," in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." The child´s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I open my heart to receive the power of your Spirit flowing from your heart into mine. I wish to carry it zealously as a light from my heart to my family, to my friends, to the weak and empty of heart. With the fire of your love in me, I want to acknowledge you as true light and as the glory and splendor of every human person. I long to be filled with a consuming love for you.

Petition: Lord, help me to penetrate the meaning of my baptism by contemplating your consecration in the Temple and on the cross.

1. Glory of the Father, Light of the Nations: Contemplate this scene from God’s perspective. The Son, now in human history, enters the Temple for the first time. The Son enters the house of the Father. He, the perfect Lamb for whom no earthly sanctuary is holy enough, accepts to be consecrated in this place built by men, this place that was dedicated to the memory of the signs that were all in expectation of him. The True Lamb arrives at last to the place of offering. The Temple was above all a place of sacrifice in order to gain God’s favor. It was a place of expiation to free oneself of the inheritance of sin, and a place of prayer to offer fitting honor and praise to the one true God. And here, on this day, in the arms of Mary, comes the only sacrifice that counts, for without him no other sacrifice has meaning, whether in sacred rituals or in our personal lives.

2. “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord” Contemplate this scene through the heart of Mary. In the simple rite of consecration; the Son is going to recognize his belonging to the Father, but he will do it through Mary’s fidelity to the prescribed ritual. Yet, who can speak for this child?  Can anyone speak for the zeal of his heart, the hunger of his heart to suffer for souls? Mary’s pure and humble heart emerges as his spokesperson, and it speaks the language of self-giving and donation, though under the rituals prescribed by the law. “For their sake I consecrate myself.” She reflects to the world what has been communicated to her by her Son, who is flesh of her flesh. In our ordinary life we elevate the meaning of small events in union with Christ. Flesh of our flesh by grace, he enables us to live a consecration to a mission in his name. Our acts are made from the power of Christ’s living presence moving our heart and will.

3. “A sword shall pierce your heart…” Now contemplate the true temple of Christ’s body on the Cross, where every consecration is made perfect. Yes, Christ gives us the privilege to speak the words that echo from his heart. Over time he perfects this language in us, if we are faithful to the cross in our life. My own baptismal consecration is all about speaking from what is in the heart of Christ, so that his words ‘pierce my own heart’ and replace that heart of stone with a new heart. I seek to speak like Christ––chaste, poor, and obedient––with a language forged and pounded into full authenticity at the Cross. My death to sin and egoism will call forth the risen life of the new man of the Kingdom––possible only through the fire of the Spirit that flows from the open side of Christ.

Conversation with Christ: O Jesus, make my soul a temple worthy of your entry. May the walls of my heart be adorned with purity, honesty and upright intention in all I say and do. May its floors, upon which you walk, be sealed with modesty and sincerity, and lead you to an undivided heart.

Resolution: Today I will renew my personal consecration to the Heart of Christ in a visit to the Eucharist, and I will remember in a special way all consecrated persons throughout the world who renew their vows today.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015-02-02

Touched by Faith
February 3, 2015. Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again (in the boat) to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to him, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ´Who touched me?´" And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."  While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official´s house arrived and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.  So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child´s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.  He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. (At that) they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, who should I turn to first but you? You have given me another day. This gift calls me to come to you first, to hear you first. My faith tells me there can be nothing better than to follow your plan; my hope is to bring you into my life and to other people; my love wants to be fuller and better — it wants to be like yours, Lord.

Petition: Grant me the grace of deeper trust and faith in all moments of hardship.

1. “…afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years”:  When problems are prolonged, or reach fever-pitch levels, we can get the mistaken impression that God has lost interest.  Somehow he seems no longer moved by our misery.  All the signs say he has forgotten us, abandoned us and left us hanging.

But God is only seemingly absent. He is creating a new set of circumstances wherein we can experience him at a wholly new level.  The long, hard and persevering fight to walk in hope enables God to bring about greater fruits of holiness in us.

In the woman with the hemorrhage and in Jairus, father of a dying daughter, we must contemplate a mature and vibrant faith, observing how it conquers pessimism and transcends the cold calculations and superficial tones of their peers.  Truly this is the first miracle we see that Jesus has worked for them, and the most important one.

2. “And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out”: The dismal voices of his “friends” come to the father. Though they have seen the miracle of the woman with the hemorrhage, they coldly say, “Your daughter is dead. Be realistic. It is no use to go on.” True, in the name of realism, we can dismiss hope and cooperation with Christ’s action in our life. We can ridicule Christ whenever he wants to work in mystery and outside our human limits. We can be tempted to abandon trust in God in the name of reaffirming control over our world. “Let’s be realistic,” we say. “It will never work.”  These phrases veil a weak faith, a poor faith, a sterile or compartmentalized faith that works only when everything makes sense to us, when everything is easy.  Where there is this lack of faith, Christ cannot work.  

3. “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured”: Many say they are near Christ, yet few are acknowledged by Christ as close to him. Many were brushing against him that day, many were verbally praising him, many were serving him, but only one touched him and got his full attention. Why? Only one made an act of unconditional faith. What is the secret? How can we really get his attention, truly speak to his heart? None are closer than those who trust him, who humbly depend on him, and who wish to live from him. The woman’s unconditional faith was open to whatever would happen, whatever would be Christ’s response.  Those who suffer and support themselves patiently with faith and prayer experience new levels of union with Christ.

Conversation with Christ: Lord let me use hardships to build newer levels of trust and intimacy with you. Open my heart to seek you on your terms.  

I do not ask you for happiness or sorrow,

Health or sickness,

Riches or poverty,

Freedom or slavery,

Goods or evils;

For goods are misfortunes if you do not come with them,

And misfortunes are goods if they arrive with you.

For goods without you, what good would they be?

And misfortunes with you, are they not the best goods?

Resolution: I will acknowledge the presence of Christ in all the difficulties of today.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015-02-03

Made for God
February 4, 2015. Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time


Mark 6:1-6

He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.  Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.

Introductory Prayer: O Lord, you said that blest are they who find no stumbling block in you. I want to be a blest person, so that you may find in me no obstacle to the holiness you want for me. I believe in you, but I long for a greater faith to see and respond to the signs of your hand moving in my world. I love you, Lord, and wish to lead my brothers and sisters to you through my testimony, through my being truly convinced that you are the life of men.

Petition: Lord, grant me the gift of total surrender to your will for me in all things.

1. “Where did this man get all this? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands”: How beautiful it is to contemplate the humble and meek Christ!  He now manifests, to the shock and awe of the worldly-minded, the signs of his true origin and the nature of his true mission.  The power of God, the power of the supernatural, now intervenes in what is merely natural through the mere “carpenter’s son.” The “signs of credibility” that Christ enacts through his mighty words and deeds powerfully point to his divine origins and invite his contemporaries to faith.  It is an invitation to leave behind them the superficial category of Jesus as just a nice neighbor (which means they can live the same as before) and receive the gift of Christ as Redeemer (which means change and conversion). Are there signs in my life that the Lord is looking to change me, to change my behavior in some way so I might live more by faith and charity?  How much longer will I resist before I will am won over by his goodness?



2. “And they took offense at him”: It is a sacrifice to give God his place in the ordinary flow of our day. To do so, we need to sacrifice our sense of self-sufficiency, by which we are inclined to be the prime mover of everything in our world. We need to sacrifice our vanity, which desists from efforts to adore God since they bring little or no applause from those around us. We need to sacrifice the comfort of our naturalism, our horizontal view of things. Ultimately this sacrifice is a work of love responding to a divine invitation to share in God’s life––love, because he is asking and wants to see us giving. Let us move our hearts to embrace this sacrifice joyfully, for the sake of love. It helps to see that in this passage there are no neutral states. Those who reject the invitation to love are turned to love’s opposite––hate, specifically the hatred of the supernatural. It is a tragedy at work in our culture in many places, giving rise to the forces of anti-evangelization. Let us pray and be vigilant that it may never become our tragedy.

3. “He was not able to perform any mighty deed there”: Our Lord makes himself vulnerable to us, to our willingness to believe. He comes only to make us happy and to elevate our lives to be more beautiful, deeper in meaning and richer in fruits. He wants to bring into our life his power to work miracles and to move mountains of fear and burdens that we encounter. He comes to be ointment for our wounds and consolation for our weary hearts. The only thing he needs to make us happy, then, is our faith, our unconditional and active faith. Without it (since he respects our freedom), we cripple his capacity to act in our life as Savior and Lord. How sad it is to see how easily we refuse such a selfless and beautiful gift.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, teach me to receive you with a heart ready to leave my rationalistic way of acting and choosing. Help me to know how to read your invitations with supernatural faith and to follow them in true obedience, where true love proves itself.

Resolution: I will be very obedient to the lights I receive today from the Holy Spirit, acting on them with promptness and generosity.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015-02-04

Two by Two
February 5, 2015. Thursday in the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time



By Father Alex Yeung, LC

Mark 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick -- no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them." So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Introductory Prayer: Father, I come before you today hungry for all the graces you desire for me in this meditation. I believe in your goodness. I wish to become more like your son, Jesus Christ, every day. I want to live a life of self-giving love like Christ. Thank you for your grace.

Petition: Christ Jesus, grant me a spirit of teamwork in spreading your Gospel.

1. Where Two or Three Are Gathered…: Christ sent out his apostles in pairs. The fact that the Gospel mentions this detail shows that it is not just an accident. There are some passages in Matthew’s Gospel that can shed some light on this desire of Christ. First, “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). The apostles are first and foremost called to witness to Christ by their example. They are to foster communion and charity among themselves, so that others, seeing how they interact with each other, will be led to exclaim, “See how they love one another!” The apostle-teams exhibited oneness of heart and soul, sharing in common what they were able to procure: lodging, success, failure. With such an attitude, Christ promises that he would be there in their midst.

2. Another Witness: “If you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (Matthew 18:16). The word of one person, who has witnessed a miraculous event alone, is often taken as no more than the word of a crazy man. However, if more than one person confesses to having witnessed the event, there is much stronger proof. The apostles went about witnessing to the things that Jesus was doing and the signs he was working: healing the sick, casting out demons, etc. It is wonderful to team up with fellow Christians in the workplace or in the family, in order to witness to the work of Christ in our lives.

3. Apostolic Efficacy:  Jesus makes it clear: with regard to the mission, another apostle is much more important than other material tools. Jesus teaches us here the principle of teamwork. An apostolic “colleague” helps us to be vigilant against dangers to our health and well-being (physical and spiritual). Prayer can be in community; Jesus assures that “if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). Working in a team also helps to improve apostolic efficacy: Each enriches the other with the exchange of knowledge, personal and lived experiences, and views on the situation. Each complements the other, contributing their God-given gifts, abilities and qualities. “Two heads are better than one.”

Conversation with Christ: You sent your apostles out in twos, Lord Jesus, to teach me about the importance of teamwork. Help me not presume that I am alone in the mission. When I try to do everything myself, sometimes it may be out of subtle pride. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the gift of apostolic colleagues. Increase in my heart true fraternal charity for those who work alongside me in building up your kingdom, so that the world may believe.

Resolution: I will make it a point to involve an apostolic colleague in my effort to help some friend or family member encounter Christ.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015-02-05

Grace’s Last Stand and Ultimate Victory
February 6, 2015. Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs


Mark 6:14-29


King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him." Others were saying, "He is Elijah"; still others, "He is a prophet like any of the prophets." But when Herod learned of it, he said, "It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up."  Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother´s wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias´s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore (many things) to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king´s presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you and all that you taught as it has been passed down to us through your Church. I hope in you, knowing that you will never send me out of your presence. Only by sin could I cut myself away from your loving hands. Although I am weak, I trust that you will keep me close. Lord, I love you and long for my love for you to grow, for you deserve so much better than my measly offering. Yet I know, too, that you are pleased with my desire for you.

Petition: Grant me, O Lord, an honest and sincere heart.

1. “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up”: The verdict of conscience always makes itself known. Herod’s guilt regarding John the Baptist’s murder is projected into the present as a haunting memory.  Those who have radically rejected God, though they might possess great power or wealth, great intelligence or ability, are ultimately the most insecure people on earth. When true goodness appears in their life, it presents itself as a threat. It condemns them and alienates them from themselves. All this is but a reflection of their state of soul before God. Such is the power of man’s conscience: it imposes its painful sentence long before the person ever reaches the ultimate tribunal of justice.  Like Christ, we can only remain silent before the Herods of the world, praying that they break their resistance to grace.

2. “He was very much perplexed yet he liked to listen to him…”: “Fear the grace of God that passes never to return.”  In the lives of all persons, even the wicked, enough goodness is given them to be saved, enough such that God can offer them the truth of salvation within the scope of their freedom. Such graces last for only a time, not forever. These moments cannot be treated as moments that temporarily pacify our conscience, only to permit us to continue in our sin and resistance to living a holy life. Herod feared John, knew he was a holy man and felt the attraction of his words, but he did nothing to respond to it. You cannot play around with God and win. Herod loses and attacked what he knew he should love. This tragedy must teach us to be sincere and never imprison the voice of God in our soul, but to let it reign in our life. We must use our freedom to respond to God’s voice, breaking the chains of human respect or fear of sacrifice that bind us to darkness. 

3. He Was Beheaded in Prison: The last honor Christ could offer a faithful apostle, who has stood firm in the truth against the twisted provocations of evil around him, is––in some sense––a “full” participation in his Paschal Mystery. What began as testimony by proclaiming conversion, John now concludes with testimony to the victorious hope the blessed possess in Christ.  This is never clearer than in a martyr’s death as intimated in this passage from the Book of Wisdom: 

For though in the sight of men they were punished,

their hope is full of immortality.

Having been disciplined a little,

they will receive great good,

because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;

like gold in the furnace he tried them,

and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them  (Wisdom 3:4-6).

May we accept today the hard road of fidelity so as to be “disciplined a little” and be found worthy of the hope that is “full of immortality.”

Conversation with Christ: Let me experience, dear Jesus, the glory of your martyrs through many small acts of fidelity—to my conscience, to my mission and to the service to souls. Heroic and filled with hope, may I accept a sentence of love and not fear any path you set before me today. May I be like one who has died and yet lives the blossom of a holy life that will never end.

Resolution: I will work to be sincere in all I do, and use the sacrament of confession as a place of constant conversion and openness to God’s will.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015-02-06

Resting in the Lord
February 7, 2015. Saturday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time



By Father Alex Yeung, LC 

Mark 6:30-34

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.  He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here. You know me through and through, and despite my weaknesses, sins and imperfections you love me. Lord, thank you for your love. Today I give you my mind, my heart and my will. Mold me and use me as you wish.

Petition: Mary, obtain for me the grace to understand and live the Christian meaning of rest.

1. A Needed Rest: Jesus knows that his disciples need to rest after returning from a long stint of missionary work. There is a need to replenish energies — physical, mental and spiritual. It is within God’s will to put moments of physical rest into our daily programs. Jesus tells the apostles to get away together and with him. Physical rest, of course, is not laziness or dissipation. It is not a place to lose the spiritual tautness of our soul towards God and his things, or the readiness to do God’s will at all times.

2. Thinking About Others: Jesus teaches us that being ready to do God’s will in everything means also being always ready to serve others. How beautiful it is when families can relax together with each member not just selfishly thinking about myself, how much fun I can have, or making sure everyone obeys my whims! In a culture where “vacation” is synonymous with “loafing,” Jesus reminds us that for a Christian, relaxing and having fun are not incompatible with thinking about and serving others. Jesus’ compassionate heart was always active, and even with rest on his mind, he was moved to give himself to the people who needed to hear the Word of God. Is my heart like Christ’s? Am I aware of the physical and spiritual needs of my family and friends even on my “day off”?

3. Thinking About God: There is a deeper meaning to “rest”: turning all our activity to glorify God and expressing our loving dependence on him. He commanded us to set apart one day of the week to “rest” in him, to direct our hearts and minds to him, to offer him the fruits of our week’s work, and to receive his grace to begin another week. Sunday must be the highlight of a Christian’s week, not just because he finds respite from his work, but because he offers all his work –– and himself –– to God the Father during the communal celebration of Mass, the heart of Sunday. This God-centered focus is extended throughout the whole Sunday rest, where “daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchan
ge, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature — too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns against man himself — can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full” (John Paul II, Dies Domini, 67).


Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to find my true rest in you. You are the source of all that is good. Help me to order all my work and material things towards spiritual values. Help me make Mass the heart of my Sunday. As well, help me use Sunday to see the true face of my family, friends, colleagues and clients: they are souls which you call me to love, serve, and bring closer to you.

Resolution: I will find some concrete way to prepare myself and my family for the celebration of Sunday Mass: reflecting on the Mass readings, organizing ourselves to arrive early to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, doing some service of charity like visiting the sick or elderly, etc.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015-02-07

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