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Christ´s Kingdom: the Path to Joy
July 27, 2014. Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 13: 44-52
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure
hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then
in his joy he goes and sells all that he
has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven
is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on
finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold
all that he had and bought it. Again, the kingdom
of heaven is like a net that was thrown into
the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it
was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put
the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So
it will be at the end of the age. The
angels will come out and separate the evil from the
righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where
there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you
understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to
them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the
kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household
who brings out of his treasure what is new and
what is old."
Introductory Prayer: Lord,
I come into your presence seeking to know you better.
I believe that you take the lead in seeking me.
You want me to find you. I trust that in
your mercy you will bring me to intimacy with you.
I open my heart today to receive your friendship.
Petition: Lord, help me to strive
for the for the Kingdom of heaven for myself and
1. The Treasure of the
Kingdom: “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks”
(Luke 6:45). Christ’s heart overflows with irrepressible zeal for the
Kingdom of heaven. He longs for everyone who hears him
to fall in love with that Kingdom. “His descriptions of
the Kingdom flow from his lips like water over a
waterfall — his vision is so rich and vibrant that
language itself can barely contain it” (Fr. John Bartunek, LC,
The Better Part, 184). At times we stumble upon the
Kingdom of heaven almost by accident, like the treasure in
the field. But we know that treasure is worth more
than all the earthly fields we can ever hope to
possess. Other times we make a long and diligent search
before encountering the Kingdom, like the pearl of great price.
Its beauty captivates our hearts.
The Joy of the Kingdom: Though the Kingdom of heaven
sparkles like a many-faceted gem, one feature always shines forth:
Discovering it fills the heart with joy. Have we ever
caught a glimpse of the Kingdom? It is there in
the ardent vigor of thousands of young people acclaiming Pope-Emeritus
Benedict at World Youth Day. It is there in the
reverent silence of a lone adorer in a Eucharistic chapel.
It is there in the enduring strength of present-day mothers
such as Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, who give up their
lives for their unborn children. The Kingdom of heaven is
worth everything and demands everything. Have we sold all we
possess in order to attain it? What still holds us
back? What earthly plots do we still cling to, fearing
to sell them for a treasure beyond what we dare
3. “Weeping and Gnashing
of Teeth”: The Kingdom of heaven is also like a
net thrown into the sea. Not all that the net
collects is worth keeping. So, too, not everyone enters into
the Kingdom. What a sudden contrast to the joy of
the Kingdom that pervades the first two images! Why does
Christ include this third and final description of the Kingdom?
He knows how easy it is for us to forget
the most important truths of our lives: the reality of
the last judgment, for which we should be preparing at
every moment. Christ knows that the stakes are high, and
we need to be reminded of them in order to
have the courage to sell everything to reach the Kingdom.
“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell
and its eternity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035). Let
us continue to pray and sacrifice, so that one day
we and all the souls entrusted to us will arrive
to the eternal joys of the Kingdom of heaven.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to be generous and
give up everything for the sake of your Kingdom in
my life and in the lives of those souls entrusted
to me. You know that I cannot do so on
my own. Help me with your grace to be generous.
Resolution: I will be open to
the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in responding to the
opportunities to bring someone closer to Christ’s Kingdom today.
Quiet but Steady Growth
July 28, 2014.Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds. "The
Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a
person took and sowed in a field. It is the
smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is
the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and
the birds of the sky come and dwell in its
branches." He spoke to them another parable. "The Kingdom of
heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed
with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch
was leavened." All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds
in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to
fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will
open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has
lain hidden from the foundation of the world.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come into your presence
seeking to know you better. I believe that you take
the lead in seeking me. You want me to find
you. I trust that in your mercy you will bring
me to intimacy with you. I open my heart today
to receive your friendship.
Lord, teach me to long for your Kingdom and your
1. Quietly Becoming Strong: The
Kingdom of Christ is not a very visible and flashy
organization in the world. It is above all a spiritual
force. It works quietly yet powerfully in the hearts of
those who receive it. By living faith, hope and charity,
Christians discover that the generous response to the voice of
Christ in their consciences builds a life that has strength
and substance. Living the Christian faith makes a person strong
in the midst of difficulties and even able to sustain
others in their life’s journey. Am I allowing the Kingdom
to grow in my heart in such a way that
I can quietly sustain others by my values and my
2. Hidden Expansion: As we
allow Christ to reign in our hearts more each day,
we find that his influence affects not only our internal
attitudes but also the people around us. This world becomes
more of a caring, compassionate place. Truth is sown. People
are reminded of God’s presence and love. This world becomes
more a place where others can find God. It is
a quiet transformation of the world, but relentless, like the
rising of the dough through the action of yeast. Am
I constant in allowing the values of the Kingdom to
transform the way I deal with others? Do I have
confidence in the transforming power of the Gospel?
3. Revealing Secrets: By speaking in in parables
Christ helps us understand that God’s kingdom is real and
accessible. God has a plan to reign in our hearts,
and the fulfillment of this plan is within our reach
through his grace. The secret to fruitfulness in our lives
lies in our openness and cooperation with God’s grace. It
is within our grasp if we would exercise our faith.
Christ has come to open our horizons to God’s grace.
Are we showing our thankfulness by doing his will?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I believe in
your kingdom. I know that it continues to grow by
the power of your grace. Help me to work with
confidence today, knowing that by sowing with faith, hope and
love, I am allowing you to do great things in
the world around me.
I will speak of God’s goodness explicitly with someone whom
Do You Believe?
July 29, 2014, Memorial of Saint Martha
And many of the Jews had come to
Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When
Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet
him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus,
"Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not
have died. But even now I know that whatever you
ask of God, God will give you." Jesus said to
her, "Your brother will rise." Martha said to him, "I
know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last
day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the
life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will
live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will
never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him,
"Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are
the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is
coming into the world."
Heavenly Father, once again I renew my faith in your
plan for my life. I trust in your loving providence,
and I know that no one can snatch me from
your hands. You know well that I love you. I
wish to be more open and docile to your plan
and action in my life. Take this time that I
now set aside for prayer. Take my mind, will and
heart; take my gifts and talents. I lay them at
your feet through this prayer. Do with me today according
to your holy and loving plan. Amen.
Petition: Lord Jesus, deepen my faith in your resurrection.
1. Do You Believe This?
This is the fundamental question in our life of faith:
do we, in fact, believe it all? Do we really
believe that the human race was mysteriously subjected to the
catastrophic consequences of our first parents’ disobedience to the divine
will? Do we really believe what we say in the
Creed every Sunday? Do we believe that Jesus of Nazareth
died and rose from the dead to conquer sin, and
now lives to draw all people to himself as their
savior? The great challenge for the Christian in our thoroughly
post-modern, post-Christian, technical age is to unabashedly say “Yes!”
2. Keeping Faith Simple: One of the
greatest challenges in the Christian life is to keep our
faith simple. Our tendency is toward sophistication and complication. While
certainly the ability to think and reason well is a
gift and has its place in the Christian life, we
must be equally aware that the in-born tendency to rationalism
can be a non-starter for a genuine life of faith.
We cannot afford to fall into today’s error of trying
to size God down according to our meager perceptions and
self-centered attitudes. Christ is much more; God ways are far
more sublime than what our limited vision can create. A
simple faith is so pleasing to God because then he
has leeway for his supernatural action. Then he can do
something within us and through us.
3. Keeping Faith Robust: This simple faith can and must
launch us upward and outward in the task of bringing
Christ’s love to every soul. Our simple faith can rapidly
ignite and convert us into relentless apostles of the Kingdom,
like St. Paul. We need to make his words our
own: “What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness,
or peril, or the sword? (…) No, in all these
things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be
able to separate us from the love of God in
Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, give me strength to bear
the burden of drawing others closer to you. Let me
feel, with St. Paul, the sting of “Woe to me
if I do not preach the Gospel!” And when I
do set out to give others reasons for my faith,
accompany me with your Holy Spirit to give success to
my poor efforts.
love of Jesus, I will renew, refresh and invigorate the
act of faith with which I begin every day in
my morning offering.
The Treasure Hunt
July 30, 2014, Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 13: 44-46
Jesus said to his disciples: "The
Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a
field, which a person finds and hides again, and out
of joy goes and sells all that he has and
buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like
a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a
pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that
he has and buys it."
Prayer: Lord, you have made me for yourself, and my
heart is restless until I rest in you. I want
to encounter you more deeply today so that you can
be my treasure. Thank you for the gift of this
new day. I know you love me. I wish to
discover your love more deeply and give it to others.
Petition: Lord, help me to treasure
the gift of your friendship.
In Search of a Treasure: The restlessness in our hearts
can be compared to a hunt for treasure. In different
ways we all experience the desire for unconditional love, true
goodness, the answer to our deepest questions. In Christ, God
has come to give himself to us. He is the
one we truly long for; he is our greatest treasure.
During this time of prayer let us deepen our awareness
of the greatness of his gift of friendship, and let
us strengthen this friendship by our openness to his love.
2. The Priceless Treasure: In Christ
we have experienced the overwhelming faithfulness of God’s love for
us. In his mercy we discover that our life has
infinite value in the Father’s eyes. In his teachings we
discover the wisdom to build our life on solid ground.
In his grace we receive the strength to grow in
love and holiness. This is where we can build a
true future. This is where we can live up to
our calling to greatness. But we must be willing to
leave aside all other concerns to really possess this treasure.
We must leave aside anything that tries to give us
a false sense of security outside of God. Am I
making my friendship with Christ the one value that guides
my heart and my decisions?
The Unopened Treasure Chest: Unpacking this treasure is the work
of our spiritual life. We need to cooperate with Christ’s
grace in order to truly possess this treasure. The cultivation
of faith, hope and charity helps us discover and live
this treasure more fully each day. Our sacrifices and renunciations
done to put on the new man help us dig
this treasure out of the earthy make-up of our lives.
Living generous charity helps us make this treasure truly last
and enrich our lives. Am I sincerely allowing Christ’s treasure
to transform me?
Conversation with Christ:
Lord, thank you for the gift of your love. You
are the treasure I truly long for. Help me to
enter more deeply into your heart this day by doing
things your way no matter what the cost. Help me
to value the gift of your friendship above everything else.
Resolution: I will make a small
sacrifice of my time to do something extra for someone
who needs God’s love.
July 31, 2014, Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, priest
Matthew 13: 47-53
Jesus said to his disciples: "The
Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the
sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is
full they haul it ashore and sit down to put
what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw
away. Thus it will be at the end of the
age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked
from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. "Do
you understand all these things?" They answered, "Yes." And he
replied, "Then every scribe who has been instructed in the
Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the
old." When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe
in your power. I know that you are the Lord
of all history. I trust that you are guiding my
life. Thank you for showing me that you will triumph.
Thank you for the triumph you have already achieved in
my heart and in the hearts of so many people.
I want to allow you to have total control over
Petition: Lord, help me
to have confidence in the triumph of your Kingdom.
1. Nothing Escapes the Kingdom: Christ is
reminding us that all souls and all human history are
encompassed in the vision of the Father. Both the good
and the bad will be brought before him. He is
able to see what good and evil has been done.
His power extends over all the failures and successes of
human history. I should live with a confidence that God
sees the good I do and will make my efforts
to spread his love bear eternal fruit.
2. Evil Does Not Have the Last Word: I
should live with the confidence that evil does not have
the last word. The mercy of God has imposed a
limit on evil and the Lord will come one day
to take away the power of evil. I should use
my short time on earth – which I should use
today – to sow all the good I can, aware
that this is what will stand steady at the coming
of the eternal kingdom. I should not be so impressed
by evil that it paralyzes me from doing good.
3. Already Home: The Eucharist is an
anticipation of God’s triumph. There we learn to trust that
God holds the strings of human history. There his “net
of love” brings his children together to feed and strengthen
them. When I participate in the Mass my confidence in
the Lord’s providence should grow. I should strive to bring
others to the Eucharist as well, so they can experience
the peace and happiness of anticipating heaven here on earth.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know
you are all powerful. I believe that your Kingdom will
triumph. I believe that you will come to judge the
living and the dead. Help me to do all I
can to bring others into your Kingdom so they can
experience the joy that comes from knowing you and from
living ready for the coming of your Kingdom.
Resolution: I will invite someone who is struggling
in their faith or who has fallen away from the
sacraments to join me this Sunday at Mass.
Lack of Faith
August 1, 2014. Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church
Jesus came to his native place and taught
the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said,
"Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter´s son? Is not his mother
named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this
man get all this?" And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without
honor except in his native place and in his own
house." And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your power. I know
that you are the Lord of all history. I trust
that you are guiding my life. Thank you for showing
me that you will triumph. Thank you for the triumph
you have already achieved in my heart and in the
hearts of so many people. I want to allow you
to have total control over my life.
Petition: Lord, increase my faith in you.
1. Too Much Familiarity: The people of Nazareth
thought they knew all about Jesus. He had grown up
among them. Apparently they had not seen anything extraordinary about
him before he started his public ministry. They thought he
was just like everyone else. So when they hear that
he is doing miracles and teaching with authority, they do
not believe it. Sometimes I also run the danger of
putting limits on Christ’s power in my life. I see
the unimpressive circumstances of my life and the recurrence of
the same old problems. I do not believe that Christ
can do something supernatural in the midst of an ordinary
situation. Today I am receiving an invitation to step beyond
the routine and believe more deeply in the power of
2. An Unwelcome Prophet: The
solution to their deepest problems was in their own backyard.
Yet, the people of Nazareth felt that such a familiar
figure could not bring anything extraordinary. When the Church sometimes
challenges me with some of her teachings – on charity,
on family life, on the need to be a courageous
witness –, do I sometimes find excuses, like saying that
my circumstances are too difficult, or the Church does not
understand my situation? Do I sometimes let the prophetic voice
of the Church die in my heart? When I feel
challenged by the Gospel and by the Church I should
be thankful. Christ is inviting me to discover the deepest
meaning of my life. He is giving me a chance
to allow his presence to make a deep change in
my life. He is allowing me to discover him in
faith and is taking me beyond my comfort zone to
the level of the coming of his Kingdom.
3. A Miracle Worker in Waiting: What
sort of miracles does Christ want to do in my
life? Christ has a plan to make my life a
luminous witness to the power of his grace. He wants
to fill my life with his holiness and help me
be a light for others. If I can shake off
my superficiality and lack of faith, I will discover the
powerful presence of the Savior who helps me live each
moment with depth and love. He can do miracles in
my life. He can help me live the virtues which
are most costly for me. Am I willing to take
a risk for Christ and trust him totally?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know you want
to do great things in my life. Help me to
see how you can transform the ordinary, seemingly unimportant circumstances
of my day into moments when your grace triumphs. Enable
me to be docile to your Holy Spirit, so he
can do miracles in my life.
Resolution: I will increase my faith in Christ by taking
a risk for him in some aspect of my spiritual
or apostolic life.
Heeding or Silencing the Conscience
August 2, 2014. Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 14: 1-12
Herod the tetrarch heard of the
reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, "This man
is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the
dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in
him." Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put
him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of
his brother Philip, for John had said to him, "It
is not lawful for you to have her." Although he
wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they
regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration
for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before
the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore
to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by
her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter
the head of John the Baptist." The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were
present, he ordered that it be given, and he had
John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in
on a platter and given to the girl, who took
it to her mother. His disciples came and took away
the corpse and buried him; and they went and told
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe
you are looking for me. You stand ready to come
to me in this moment of prayer. You want to
help me see your love and where I can grow
to be more like you. Thank you for your patience
and goodness with me. I want to give myself totally
Petition: Lord, help me
to hear your voice more clearly today.
1. A Disturbing Voice: John the Baptist had been
sent to prepare the way for Christ. He was a
witness to the holiness of God. He tried to awaken
the sense of sin and the need for repentance. He
spoke clearly and was afraid of no one. Sometimes the
voice of God in my conscience can be bothersome, like
John’s voice was to Herod. Yet a clear reminder of
what is right and wrong is an act of mercy
from God. He is giving us a chance to awaken
from our lethargy and realize that our immortal souls are
at stake. I should thank God when my conscience reminds
me of things I need to change in my life.
2. What’s Wrong With a Little
Entertainment? There is nothing wrong with having celebrations in our
life and moments of joy and relaxation. A Christian’s life
is rich in moments of happiness. But, as was the
case in Herod’s birthday party, there exists the danger of
looking for entertainment and relaxation in activities or pastimes which
can simply manipulate our passions, weaken our morals, and deeply
offend God. If we are unable to choose our entertainment
wisely we can end up throwing away the richness of
our spiritual inheritance for cheap thrills. Herod ends up as
a murderer rather than a good king. His unchecked passions
of sensuality and human respect make him use his power
to destroy rather than protect. I must remember that even
in the moments of relaxation I have the responsibility to
protect and foster my Christian identity. I should look for
healthy pastimes where I can share the joy of Christian
living with my friends and family.
3. The Proverbial Second Chance: When Herod hears of Jesus,
his conscience pricks him. He knew he had killed a
man of God. Somewhere in his heart he knew that
God would have the last word. The presence of Christ
is an additional grace that the Father offers Herod so
that he may be converted. Unfortunately it is a grace
that Herod will not take advantage of, just as he
did not take advantage of the presence of John the
Baptist. In my own life, how many times does the
Father have to remind me of my call to holiness?
Do I realize how much mercy the Lord has already
shown me? What is it that I am still withholding
from him? Today I will seek a deep conversion of
heart in that area where I know I have still
been withholding myself from God.
with Christ: Lord, thank you for enlightening my conscience with
your Gospel. Help me to see where I have become
deaf or insensitive to the call of your teachings. I
want your grace to triumph in my life. Help me
to be brave to change what offends you and to
live a life of Christian authenticity.
Resolution: I will receive the sacrament of reconciliation today and
also invite someone else to receive it.
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