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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Weekly meditation

 June 26, 2016 - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Choosing Between Two Goods
June 26, 2016 - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Father Matthew Kaderabek, LC


Luke 9: 51-62


 

When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "(Lord,) let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." (To him) Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

 

Introductory Prayer


Lord, I wish to put aside all distractions and to give you my total focus. I will do nothing more important today than to meditate prayerfully on your goodness and your active role in my life. Though I am unworthy to be in your presence, I trust in your mercy and love. Through this moment of prayer I want to draw closer to you and learn to live more like you.

 

Petition


Lord, may the enticements of the world pale in comparison with you.

 


  1. Only One Thing Is Necessary


    Temptation is a choice between good and evil. But sometimes what is harder than making the choice between these two opposites is choosing between two goods. Such is the situation in which the would-be disciples in today’s Gospel passage find themselves. In such cases, we could say that a good occasionally becomes the enemy of what is best. Sometimes we need to say no to a good option in order to embrace the one thing necessary. In today’s Gospel, as well as in tomorrow’s, we encounter people who might have become Christ’s close followers, who might have even been chosen to be one of his Apostles, but who were held back by other concerns or motives. Is my own heart open to Christ and his ways or do I lack detachment in some area of my life?


 


  1. Patriotism Must Come Second


    The first incident is the encounter between the messengers of Jesus and the Samaritan villagers. It is likely that the Samaritan villagers had heard of Jesus the miracle worker and were anxious to see a sign or to hear him preach. But the concern that holds them back and keeps them from following Jesus is their patriotism. The Samaritans and the Jews had been bitter enemies for centuries and systematically avoided all unnecessary contact with each another. When they learned that Jesus and his disciples were Jews and were headed for Jerusalem, their interest became opposition. We would have to agree that patriotism and devotion to the national cause are both good things in themselves. But when nationalism or ethnic sentiments become the eyes through which one sees all reality, including spiritual and eternal reality, one is in danger of losing the proper perspective.


 


  1. Once You Have Set Your Course, Don’t Look Back


    Let us consider the man who wants to follow Jesus, but wants toxxgo and say farewell to his family first. We cannot help but feel that we would have done the exact same thing as this would-be disciple. Didn’t our parents teach us when we were young to inform them about when we were leaving the house and when we would be back, and where we were going, and with whom? This man has high social and family values. One could only hope that all men could be this sensitive to let their families know their whereabouts. Yet, before the urgent call of the Kingdom of God, social and family concerns take a back seat. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).


 

Conversation with Christ


Lord, I am distracted by so many things in life. Even though many of them are legitimate. I must learn to keep my eyes focused on you and trust in you. Half-way surrenders do not interest you. You want all of my heart. Help me to give it to you willingly and joyfully.

 

Resolution


I will recommit to living wholeheartedly for God today. Even though certain members of my family are likely to call me a “fanatic”. Or tell me that I’m “getting carried away.”
 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-06-26

Determined Discipleship
June 27, 2016 - Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time


Matthew 8:18-22


When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side. A scribe approached and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But Jesus answered him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead."

 

Introductory Prayer


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition


Lord Jesus, help me to seek true holiness by following after you.

 


  1. Follow His Footsteps:


    The transition to becoming a disciple is not an easy one. While a disciple generously hands over his own will to the Lord unconditionally, the scribe in today’s passage still seeks his own will, as noble as it may be. A disciple is born from an invitation: “Follow me.” This scribe does not yet have the total freedom of heart that life with Christ demands. Where do I stand? One becomes identified with Christ not through a mere accumulation of doctrine, principles and techniques, but by living a common life with Christ born from union with the Master’s will. May I hear Christ’s voice setting the pace of holiness in my life and inviting me to leave behind my own will for the new life he presents.


 


  1. Choosing the Better Way


    Christ does not coldly ignore the scribe, but seeks to attract him to a different way of life, a life of simple poverty. Our Lord’s own self-emptying poverty goes beyond the lot of the poorest of men. What Christ’s poverty shows, however, is not misery. Rather, it compels and attracts, for it is an infallible sign of the richness of God from whom Christ lives and moves. Christ’s living example empowers men to leave their world for something better, nobler and more worthy of the life they have been given. May my example also compel others to find a better way, a holier way.


 

  1. Shunning Shoddy Sophisms: ´
    There is an almost ruthless quality to Christ’s response to the sophisms and excuses offered to avoid following him. Detachment from all personal wants and desires is the way to simplicity of heart. Simplicity of heart requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves. What comes first in our life? What is really moving our heart to make the choices we make? Is it God’s will? God’s will for us is never complicated; perhaps it may be difficult, but it is never complicated. Sometimes, under the pretext of doing good, we rationalize not doing what is better. We do not need sophisticated analyses assessing how many obstacles there are to doing God’s will. All we need to clear the path to its perfect fulfillment is a generous heart.


 

Conversation with Christ


Lord, I know you have called me; I ask for your strength to respond with simplicity and fortitude. I have heard your voice and I now answer.

 

Resolution


Today I will live better my vocation in life and, in particular, fulfill some obligation that I normally put off.
 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-06-27

Letting Jesus Sleep
June 28, 2016 - Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and martyr


Matthew 8:23-27


As Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"

Introductory Prayer


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition


Lord, grant me the grace of a mature faith.

 


  1. God’s Silence, Man’s Faith:


    We can imagine ourselves in the place of the apostles, in this poor boat tossed by the turbulent waves. The situation instantly speaks to our worst of fears; yet Jesus sleeps. Our temptation is to wake him…and too many souls do so through complaining incessantly, despairing attitudes, withdrawing from prayer, or unloading anger on others. When in a moment of trial we find life is no longer under our complete control, the option of meltdown is always at hand.

    But we mustn’t take that route; instead we must contemplate the power that emanates from the sleeping Christ. Trials are intended by God to draw us closer to him and increase our dependence on him. We have to live from faith; otherwise all that reigns is fear, insecurity and bitterness. The “Silence of Christ” is powerful. To pass over its meaning lightly is to abandon some of the deepest lessons of Christ’s heart. The “Silence of Christ” must teach us.


 


  1. The “Silence of Christ” Speaks to Our Faith:


    What is Christ’s sleep like? As a young mother, Mary watched Jesus sleep many times. Archbishop Martinez writes:

    “Jesus was exceedingly beautiful when he spoke the words of eternal life, accomplished wonders, looked with love, pardoned with mercy and caressed with tenderness. But I would like to have seen him while he was sleeping because I could have contemplated him to my heart’s content, without the fascination of his gaze distracting me, without the perfection of his beauty and the glory of his splendor dazzling my eyes and enrapturing my soul. The beauty of Jesus awake is far too great for my smallness. Who could support it? I felt it more suited to me veiled by sleep, as the glory of the sun is more adapted to my eyes when I look at it through a translucent lens” (When Jesus Sleeps, p.15).

    May I trust the power of Christ just as much when he chooses not to act as when he does.


 


  1. God’s Eternal Pedagogy:


    Water, a boat, the apostles and Christ… this scene repeats itself over and over again in the Gospel. Water is a symbol of the experiences of life taken on a human level; the boat is the experience of faith on a supernatural level -- it is our life with Christ. Christ’s message is that we can never let our experiences of life overwhelm our experience of faith.

    We have to live not from the surface level of impressions of the moment, but from the deep channel of faith that reveals the action of God, the wisdom of his Providence and the ultimate destiny of eternity. Faith is what reveals Christ’s presence in our boat; faith is what makes us believe that every wave and wind gust are blessed invitations to confide in the One who rules all. Faith is what permits God to console our hearts, calm our fears and preserve our joy in the midst of problems and difficulties that may take months or years to run their course.


 

Conversation with Christ:


Lord, I know belief makes me vulnerable. But I know that I will not know your love if I do not believe that you can make me happier than I can be by myself. If I do not face the enemies of my soul and my mission and abandon myself to your grace, I will not know your victory.

 

Resolution:


Today I will take a problem and, with complete trust and confidence in him, leave it totally in God’s hands.

 
 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-06-28

Rock of Peter
June 29, 2016 - Solemnity of Saints Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles


Father Edward McIlmail, LC


 

 

Matthew 16:13-19


 

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

 

Introductory Prayer:


Jesus, I believe in you. I believe that you came into this world to suffer and die to give me a chance at eternal salvation. I want to draw close to you in this prayer. May this time I spend with you be an expression of my love.

 

Petition:


Help me, Lord, to enter into a deeper, personal relationship with you.

 


  1. Identity Crisis:


    Jesus isn´t interested in what "others" think of him. He wants to know what I think of him. The test of any relationship is how committed people are to each other. At some point a young woman will wonder, how serious is her boyfriend? After a few weeks of class, a professor wants to know, who are the serious students here? On the eve of battle a soldier might wonder, can I count on my buddies when the bullets start flying? Likewise, Our Lord wonders about us. What does Christ mean to me? Is he just a picture on a holy card? A dimly perceived do-gooder from the past? Or does he have a real place in my life? He is, after all, the Second Person of the Trinity who came into the world in order to save us. How does that truth affect my faith?


 


  1. Heavenly Revelation:


    Peter professes that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. And Jesus in turn tells him that this knowledge doesn´t come from the world. It comes from God the Father. Recognition of Jesus as the Christ involves an act of faith. Throughout history skeptics have tried to figure out Jesus, using just their reason and tools of research. But since when do we try to understand the totality of a person with reason? Learning about another person can often require personal contact, above all, listening to him or her. Do I try to listen to Jesus in prayer, in Scripture? Or do I simply try to "figure him out"?


 


  1. Binding and Loosing:


    Keys were a symbol of authority. Our Lord had all authority on earth (see Matthew 28:18 and Mark 2:10). Authority implies the ability to delegate it; hence, Jesus gave Peter, as the first pope, the power to bind and loose, that is, to make disciplinary rules within the Church. A child who disobeys a licit command from its mother is committing a sin. Why? Not because Mom is God, but because Mom has authority from God. Authority, in this case papal authority, is not an imposition but rather a service. The Pope´s unique authority gives us a sure guide on moral questions. The Pope doesn´t have the power to make morality but rather to define authoritatively on issues at hand. How well do I know papal teaching? Do I make an effort to learn why he teaches as he teaches? When a difficulty arises, do I consult Church teaching? "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me" (Luke 10:16).


 

Conversation with Christ:


Lord, help me to love my faith as an expression of my personal relationship with you. Keep me from ever growing cold in my faith. Grant me a renewed appreciation for the gift of papal authority.

 

Resolution:


I will read a few paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, a few about the papacy (880-887, 895, 1559).
 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-06-29

Fathoming Christ’s Mercy
June 30, 2016 - Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
 

 


 

 

Matthew 9:1-8


 

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven." At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ´Your sins are forgiven,´ or to say, ´Rise and walk´? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he then said to the paralytic, "Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home." He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

 

Introductory Prayer:


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition:


Lord, grant me a deeper experience of your mercy.

 


  1. Crippled by Control:


    For St. Jerome, physical paralysis is an image of man’s inability to return to God by his own efforts. It is man’s inability to create his own salvation, to set the terms by which he can say he has made peace with God. The paralysis is meant to speak more to the Pharisees about their souls than to the cripple who bears it. Christ saw stagnation in the Pharisees’ hearts. They wanted to put God in a box, where their relationship with him could neatly accommodate their status and comforts.

    We, like the Pharisees, like our routine. We like to coast in our spiritual life and dislike having to adjust to God’s asking for more faith, trust or charity. For saintly souls, Christ is ever new; they are always being asked for more, and new experiences of Christ fill them as a result. Their love never goes stale since they refuse to control what God can do with them.


 


  1. The Only Real Problem Is Sin:


    The paralytic and his companions arrive concerned only about his physical condition. This is not, however, what is first on Christ’s priority list. What is first, rather, is the man’s state of soul. For God the problem of life is not about problems. Problems are merely the pretexts he sends us to heal and develop our relationship with him: “Your sins are forgiven.” The problem of life is all about holiness and about removing the chief obstacle to holiness: sin. Deep down, the only things that can hurt us are the obstacles of sin and an egoistic lifestyle.


 

 


  1. Awaiting God’s Replies:


    The pause between “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven you” and the cure of the paralysis initially may have caused disappointment in those unfamiliar with Christ’s way of working. In that wait our response to God comes, and our part in the plan of salvation plays out. Instant gratification of a child’s wants spoils the meaning of his parents’ gift of loving support. To arrive to Christian maturity, we must form the virtues of faith and trust. To seek cures must be sought more as part of God’s will than as our own self-centered relief effort.

    This takes time. Yet even in that pause, in the dark night of faith, something is happening. While miracles are on the way, we are changing. The command to rise seems only to confirm or make visible something that has already occurred in the paralytic’s soul: through faith and trust, Christ reigns over his soul.


 

Conversation with Christ:


Lord, I know that in you alone I shall rise, because only you can conquer sin in me. For my part, like St. Paul, I have sought to fight the good fight, strengthened by your grace and mercy. Help me to accept every difficulty as a new chance to purify my heart and sanctify my soul.

 

Resolution:


Today I will remember to avoid rash and judgmental thoughts of others. As I do so I will keep in my heart the merciful dispositions of Christ’s heart.
 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-06-30

Where Mercy Reigns
July 1, 2016 - Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time


Matthew 9:9-13


As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ´I desire mercy, not sacrifice.´ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

 

Introductory Prayer:


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition:


Lord, grant me the grace of a humble and contrite heart.

 


  1. "Why Does Your Teacher Eat with Tax Collectors and Sinners?"


    The Pharisees want to keep their status secure. In their eyes, religion is not a quest for truth, but a way to tranquilize their conscience under the guise of a law which makes few demands on them. They are unwilling to break away from the “baby food” that is the old law and chew on the “steak” of real holiness. It is easy to return back to “baby food” and to remember the times when God was asking less, in order to keep a false sense of peace. Such a manner is never enough, though, for an honest man of God, who learns every day to face the brutal facts of who he really is before God – that God expects much from him, and that the Lord’s grace will empower him to deliver. I must seek out the areas of routine where I have justified myself in giving less than what Christ is really asking.


 


  1. “I Did Not Come to Call the Righteous but Sinners."


    How does God pick which souls to approach with his consoling presence? “Through the abundance of your mercy, O God our Savior, you appeared to sinners and tax collectors. Where else was your light to shine if not upon those who were sitting in darkness? Glory be to you!” (Iraeneus, Anthologion, 1:1390). Christ is attracted to those to whom his grace will mean something, those in whom there is fertile ground for a response to his invitation to holiness. No abundance of religious achievement or spiritual knowledge will catch his attention, but put in front of him a contrite soul ready to abandon himself to his grace, and there he is.


 


  1. “Those Who Are Well Do Not Need a Physician, But the Sick Do.”


    A posture of humility helps us to never take God’s mercy for granted. One day Brother Elias found St. Francis crying over how terrible a sinner he was. Surprised, Br. Elias asked how he could think such a thing. Francis therein recalled all the graces he had received, and reflected that if any other man had received them they would have been a far greater man than he (Crowley, A Day With the Lord, p.146). Such are the saints – whom are never satisfied with themselves, always in need of God and his mercy. All that Christ needs to make me a saint is that I have a heart ready to change and be ready to base myself on his grace. Less on my formulas for success.


 

Conversation with Christ:


Lord, I ask you to receive me in all my weakness. That I may more confidently base my future growth on your grace and mercy. Let me enter heaven, as St. Theresa of the Child Jesus wished, “with my hands empty.” All glory and victory is yours alone. Thank you for choosing me, out of love for me.

 

Resolution:


I will set a time and place for confession this week. I may honor God’s mercy and show with my fervor what it means for me to be his chosen one.
 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-07-01

Fasting and Feasting
July 2, 2016 - Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
 


Matthew 9:14-17


The disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."

 

Introductory Prayer:


Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is you ask. Left to myself, I often take the easy and convenient path; yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

 

Petition:


Lord, help me to value the place of fasting in my life.

 


  1. Creating Hunger for God:


    Fasting has its place in the life of holiness. Like the precept of poverty, fasting is the purposeful privation of a natural good to make the soul more sensitive to the supernatural goods of the Spirit. It is the silencing of the flesh in order to feel more intensely a spiritual hunger for God. Just as the Israelites had to grow hungry in the desert before they could worthily receive the bread from heaven in the gift of manna, so in our life there is place to put aside the distractions of what is good for that which is holy. In the practice of self-denial, we will find the spiritual receptivity of a new wineskin that will not burst when, through prayer, God pours in the new wine of the Kingdom.


 


  1. Respecting the End:


    The practice of piety is not an end in itself. Rather, it is oriented to the ultimate end of the spiritual life: union with Christ. Christ must unweave John’s disciples from an excessive rigor in their spiritual life, one that has lost God as its proper object. Spiritual pride can grow subtly in persons who take upon themselves forms of devotion or asceticism for their own sakes. In all things, even in the spiritual, we have to look at the end. If some spiritual practice does not lead us to live God’s will and his presence in a more loving manner, then it is of no use to us.


 


  1. Fasting and the Passion Lead to Spiritual Feasting:


    The moment of the Passion will come; and the days of mourning will arrive. The fasting that the disciples lived and that the Church lives is one of uniting ourselves to the suffering Christ. Self-denial in order to do God’s will becomes a participation in Christ’s Redemption, too. Christ’s closest friends will want to share his sorrow, suffer his privations and make his holocaust visible to others through their sacrificial way of life. May I be ready to live union with Christ, embracing periodic acts of self-denial. Eventually embracing the ongoing crosses of my duty for love of souls and his Kingdom.


 

Conversation with Christ:


Lord, help me practice true devotion and sacrifice. First, Renew in me a holy desire to seek you above all things. So that all I possess in my life is ordered to serving you better and glorifying your name.

 

Resolution:


I will make a special sacrifice to fulfill a duty of my state in life, uniting myself more to the suffering Christ.
 
FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN: 2016-07-02

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