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Weekly meditation

 July 27, 2014. Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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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 others.

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.

2. 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 hope for?

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.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-07-27

Quiet but Steady Growth
July 28, 2014.Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:31-35

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.

Petition: Lord, teach me to long for your Kingdom and your holiness.

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 charity?

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.

Resolution: Today I will speak of God’s goodness explicitly with someone whom I meet.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-07-28

Do You Believe?
July 29, 2014, Memorial of Saint Martha

John 11:19-27

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."

Introductory Prayer: 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.

Resolution: For love of Jesus, I will renew, refresh and invigorate the act of faith with which I begin every day in my morning offering.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-07-29

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."

Introductory 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.

1. 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?

3. 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.
 

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-07-30

Powerful Net
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 there.

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, 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.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-07-31

Lack of Faith
August 1, 2014. Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church

Matthew 13:54-58

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 Christ.

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.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-08-01

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 Jesus.

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 to you.

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.

Conversation 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.

 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014-08-02

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