Catholic Daily Reflections

Follow Catholic Daily Reflections
Share on
Copy link to clipboard

My Catholic Life! presents the beauty and splendor of our Catholic faith in a down to earth and practical way. These daily audio reflections come from the "Catholic Daily Reflections Series" which is available in online format from our website. They are also available in e eBook or paperback format. May these reflections assist you on your journey of personal conversion!

John Paul Thomas

    • Sep 22, 2023 LATEST EPISODE
    • daily NEW EPISODES
    • 1,544 EPISODES

    4.7 from 237 ratings Listeners of Catholic Daily Reflections that love the show mention: reflections, readings, prayer, daily, blessing, spiritual, faith, word, beautiful, morning, grateful, thank, perfect, life, work, listen, great, love.

    Search for episodes from Catholic Daily Reflections with a specific topic:

    Latest episodes from Catholic Daily Reflections

    Saturday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time - Bearing Abundant Good Fruit

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2023 5:49

    “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Luke 8:8This short line is, in a sense, a summary of the Parable of the Sower. This parable presents us with four different ways in which the Word of God is received. The seed that is sown is the Word of God. The four different categories of people are compared to seed sown on a path, rocky ground, among thorns and in good soil.Jesus explains that the seed sown on the path are those “who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts.” The seed sown on rocky ground are those who “receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.” The seed sown among thorns are those who have heard the Word and received it, but over time they are “choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit.” Finally, those who are like rich soil are those who heard the Word and “embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”As you look at those categories of people, where do you fall? Most likely, for those who pray daily and try to follow our Lord, one of the last two categories is where they fall. Note that for those who are like seed sown in the thorns and those sown in rich soil, fruit is born from the Word of God. In other words, their lives do change and they do make a difference in the world on account of God's holy Word and presence in their lives. The difference, however, is that those who struggle with “the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life” will fail to produce “mature fruit.” This is a good teaching for faithful Christians to ponder.When you look at your life, what sort of fruit do you see? The “fruit” of which our Lord speaks can be identified with the fruits of the Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, forbearance, gentleness, faith, modesty, self-control, and chastity. Thus, if you want to discern whether you are more like one who bears mature fruit vs. immature fruit, look at those holy qualities carefully. How “mature” are each of these fruits of the Spirit alive in your life? They make a wonderful examination of conscience for those looking to go deeper than just the Ten Commandments or Seven Capital Sins. If these good fruits are born from your life in a truly mature way, you should be able to see how they affect others through you. For example, how has your kindness, patience, faith and self-control helped others in their Christian walk?Reflect, today, upon the fruits of the Spirit. Review them carefully and prayerfully as you examine your own life. Where you see them in abundance, rejoice and give thanks, and work to foster their growth. Where you see them lacking, rejoice also in that insight and consider the reason they are lacking. Are there worldly anxieties, desires for riches or pleasures that hinder their growth? Seek to be that truly rich soil, and our Lord will indeed bring forth much good fruit in you and through you.My divine Sower, You sow the perfect seeds of Your Word in abundance. Please help me to open my heart to receive that Word so that an abundance of good fruit can be born. Please free me from the anxieties and deceptions of life so that I can hear clearly Your holy Word and nurture that Word in my heart. I rejoice, dear Lord, in all that You have and continue to do in and through me. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Friday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time - All In!

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2023 6:16

    Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities… Luke 8:1–2Our Lord was on a mission. He traveled on foot from one town to another, “preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.” His message truly was “good news.” He healed the sick, cast out demons and, most importantly, He forgave sins. As a result, many began to follow Him. Not only did His followers consist of the Twelve whom Jesus personally called and who He would eventually send forth as His Apostles, but others followed Him also. Today's Gospel also mentions three women by name: Mary of Magdala, Joanna and Susanna. These are but a few of the people who were deeply touched by our Lord, who in turn left all to follow Him.The choice of these first followers to abandon all and follow Jesus invites us to examine the extent to which we have committed our lives to following Him also. Among the many people who heard Jesus preach, there were undoubtedly various responses. Some rejected Him, others were intrigued by Him, others believed in Him but were not willing to become His disciple, and some did commit themselves wholeheartedly to Jesus and His mission of proclaiming good news. For the latter, the good news they heard changed their lives.What is your response to our Lord? One good way to properly answer this question is to examine the amount of time and energy you have committed to our Lord and His message of good news. How much time have you spent reading His holy Word, praying to Him, speaking about Him and learning the faith that He has taught? How much does His message affect the decisions you make in life? Being a Christian is not something we can compartmentalize. We cannot have our “faith time” a few moments of each week and then spend the rest of our time on other activities. True, our days will be filled with many activities that are simply normal parts of our lives. We all have duties and responsibilities that occupy much of our days. But being “all in,” so to speak, means that Jesus and His message permeates everything we do. Even our ordinary daily activities such as work, chores, and the like must be done for God's glory and in accord with His divine will. For Jesus' first followers, though they traveled with Him from town to town and radically changed the course of their daily lives, they still would have engaged in many ordinary activities. But those ordinary activities were ultimately done so as to help them and others fulfill their ultimate mission of listening to and responding to the Word of God.Reflect, today, upon the extent that you have consecrated every part of your life to our Lord and His mission. Doing so does not necessarily require that you become a public evangelist, spend all day at Church or the like. It simply means that Jesus and His mission are invited into everything you do every day all day. We can never serve our Lord fully enough. As you examine your daily activity, look for ways to bring our Lord into everything you do. Doing so will truly make you one of His faithful disciples who are all in with your life.My divine Lord, You are on a mission to save souls and to build up Your glorious Kingdom. I thank You for inviting me to not only become transformed by Your holy Word but to help spread that Word to others. My life is Yours, dear Lord. Please enter into every part of my daily life and use me for Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    September 21, Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist - Seeking True Satisfaction

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2023 7:14

    “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.” Matthew 9:11–13Just prior to this passage quoted above, Jesus saw Matthew, a tax collector, sitting at his custom post collecting taxes. Jesus walked up to him and said two simple words: “Follow me.” What did Matthew do? He got up and followed Jesus and invited Him to his home for a meal. When the Pharisees saw this, they acted with judgment and cruelty. They said, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Their reaction and Jesus' subsequent response to them says much about the goodness of our Lord.When Jesus said that He “did not come to call the righteous but sinners,” He was not speaking of the truly righteous. For example, the most righteous person alive at that time, other than Jesus, was His dear mother. And we can be certain that not only did Jesus call her but that she always responded with her whole heart. However, Jesus was speaking of those who were “self-righteous.” A self-righteous person is one who thinks highly of themself, ignoring the truth of God but choosing, instead, to elevate their own image in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. Simply put, to be self-righteous is to believe a lie and, in fact, to believe the worst of lies. It's the worst of lies because this sin has the effect of causing a person to remain obstinate and stuck in their sin. The self-righteous person does not see any need for repentance or change in their life. Therefore, they are not open to the Word of God and to allowing that Word to transform them.Saint Matthew, whom we honor today, was different. He was a sinner indeed. Most likely he was greedy and overly attached to his money. Tax collectors were not highly regarded at that time because they were Jews who worked for the Romans and were, therefore, seen as traitors to their own people. Additionally, they were seen as thieves, because they often extorted more than they should receive so that they could pocket some of the money. For this reason, many Jews also feared the tax collectors because they knew the tax collectors had Rome's support in this illicit activity.What's amazing is that Jesus approached Matthew, the sinner and tax collector, and confidently called him to be a follower. Most likely, Jesus could see into his heart. He knew Matthew was not happy with his life and was searching for more. Therefore, as soon as Jesus called him to follow Him, it is clear that something took place within Matthew's soul. The fact that he got up and followed our Lord shows that the spiritual draw to Jesus was far more powerful than his desire for earthly wealth.This same truth applies to each and every one of us. No matter what we find ourselves drawn to and no matter how we seek satisfaction in life, the supernatural truth is that there is only one thing that will satisfy. We could have all the money in the world, all earthly power and prestige, and still, in the depths of our souls, we will not find peace until we turn to Jesus and follow Him. Some people learn this truth early in life, some later in life, and some never discover it at all.Reflect, today, upon how satisfied you are with your life. Is there something missing? If so, look at your goals and priorities in life. What do you spend most of your time thinking about, talking about and daydreaming about? If it is not our Lord Who occupies your mind, heart and every desire, then you can expect that you will experience discontentment in life. In that case, look to the witness of Saint Matthew. He is a saint today because he responded to Jesus' invitation to abandon his life of sin and greed so as to follow Him in poverty. But in that worldly poverty and abandonment of earthly things, Saint Matthew became abundantly rich and will remain so forever in Heaven.Lord of all satisfaction, You call all Your people to follow You. Please open my mind and heart to that call so that I can not only hear You but also respond with all my heart. Please help me to detach from the things of this world that keep me from You, so that I can follow You wherever You lead. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Wednesday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time - A Well-Ordered Soul

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2023 5:37

    “‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.' John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Luke 7:32–35Ecclesiastes 3 is a very popular reading for funerals. It says, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” This reading is consoling to those who are mourning at a funeral because life is filled with many different emotions and experiences. When those at a funeral think about their loved one, they will recall both the good times and the bad, the sorrows and the joys. Doing so helps remind them that even though the funeral is a time of sorrow, joys will follow in the future. This is the natural rhythm of life.In our Gospel today, Jesus challenged those who failed to have the proper human response at the right time. “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.” The image of playing a flute and singing a dirge and the subsequent failure to dance and weep reveals a certain disconnect that many people had to John the Baptist and to Jesus Himself during their ministries. In commenting upon this passage, Saint Augustine says that John the Baptist's preaching was like a dirge that called people to the “weeping” of repentance. However, when he preached, there were many who failed to respond with the appropriate repentance. When Jesus came, He preached and gave witness to the new life of grace that He came to bestow. Though some listened and responded to Him, there were many who did not. Jesus' message was like the music of the flute that was to inspire people to “dance.” But many failed to respond with the joy that they were invited to experience and live through His transforming message and grace.There is, indeed, an appointed time for everything and for every affair under Heaven. The mission we have been given is to be attentive to that which God is speaking to us at each and every moment of our lives. At times we must “weep” by looking at our sins honestly, experience the horror of those sins, and passionately reject them. At other times we will “dance” when God invites us into His consoling grace and asks us to see clearly His merciful love. At those moments we are invited to be deeply grateful and to express that gratitude with our whole souls.Reflect, today, upon the calling you have been given to live in a well-ordered way. Do so by considering how attentive you are to the people around you. Does the attentiveness of your charity help you to see the hurt within the hearts of those who are suffering? Are you compelled to offer them a compassionate ear and merciful heart? When others are experiencing the joys of life, are you able to share that joy with them? Can you do so fully, without jealousy or envy of any kind? When God inspires you to some act of conversion and bestows some grace, do you listen and promptly obey, responding in the most appropriate way? Our souls must become sensitive to the promptings of grace and must respond accordingly. Seek to have a well-ordered soul so that you will live and experience the life that God places before you each day in accord with His perfect will.Lord, Your soul was perfectly ordered, always responding to the will of the Father with perfection. You were firm when love demanded it, courageous in the face of hardship, merciful to the repentant sinner, and joyful at the conversion of all. Please help me to always be attentive to the promptings of Your grace and to always respond to You in the way I am called. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Tuesday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time - Compassion, Hope and Faith

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 18, 2023 6:42

    Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. Luke 7:11–12Try to imagine this mother. She had been married, she and her husband had a child, they raised their child, she and her son watched her husband die, and then she watched her son die and was participating in his funeral. Since he was her only son, she was now alone.When we think about this woman, it is easy to feel compassion for her. Her heart would have been filled with a sorrow that is tangible to anyone with empathy. Her heart might also have been filled with fear. At that time, a widow would have had a very difficult time taking care of herself in a rural village. With her husband gone, she would have had to rely upon her son to provide for her as she aged. But now that he was gone, her heart would have not only felt the pain of his loss, but also fear for her future. What would become of her? Who would provide food for her year after year? Would she be reduced to begging and poverty?It is in the context of this very real sorrow and fear that Jesus enters her life. We do not know if she knew anything about Jesus. It appears she was not one of His followers and might not have even heard about Jesus since He had not been ministering publicly for very long. Jesus' encounter with her and her dead son appears to be unplanned and unexpected. What is it that moves Jesus to raise this man from the dead? It does not appear to be a response to anyone's faith within the village. It is not even done at anyone's request. Instead, it appears to be done purely out of Jesus' compassion for this mother. At least that's how it seems at first read. And though Jesus clearly acted out of compassion for her, if we consider the entire context, there might also be a secondary motive.Jesus, his disciples and a large crowd were all walking together through this village. Since Jesus' miracles were normally performed in response to people's faith, it is most likely that faith was a contributing factor to this miracle. The faith that called forth this miracle, however, could only have come from the crowds of people who were walking with Jesus from Capernaum. The day prior, these same crowds witnessed Jesus heal the servant of a centurion. They clearly believed in Jesus. As they walked with Him and encountered this funeral procession, it was not only Jesus' heart that was moved with compassion, it was also the hearts of His followers. Therefore, as Jesus' followers witnessed this mother's sorrow and then witnessed Jesus' own human sorrow and compassion for her, they would have had hope that He would do something. Their hope would have been supernatural in origin, which means that it was also united with faith. By faith, they knew Jesus would act. Thus, in a very real way, the compassion, hope and faith of the people traveling with Jesus would have called forth His almighty power to heal, and Jesus responded.There are many ways to act as mediators of God's grace. One way to do so is by growing in compassion for others and hope in God. When we witness the sufferings of others, allow ourselves to feel compassion for them, manifest hope in the power of God to heal, and then stand there, in faith, waiting for God to act, God will be compelled to act. Our holy compassion, hope and faith act as a prayer to which God always responds. The crowds accompanying Jesus through the Village of Nain appear to have acted in this manner and, inspired by their witness, we, too, must act as intercessors for others in the same way.Reflect, today, upon anyone in your life who resembles this widow of Nain. Who is it that God wants you to notice and to feel compassion for? As your empathetic heart notices those who need your compassion, open yourself, also, to the supernatural gift of hope. Have divine hope that God will heal them. As you do, allow that hope to manifest faith in God and offer that compassion, hope and faith to God as your prayer for those who are in need.Most compassionate Lord, You are always attentive to our needs and our sorrows. Your Heart is filled with compassion for all. Please give me a truly empathetic heart so that I will see those in need. As I do, fill me with hope and faith that You will pour forth Your mercy upon them so that I will become an intercessor for all. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Monday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time - The Humility of Intercession

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 17, 2023 5:55

    “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.” Luke 7:6–7What's interesting is that these humble words, spoken by a Roman centurion, were not actually spoken by the centurion to Jesus. This is because the centurion did not believe he was even worthy of going to Jesus himself. Therefore, he sent some of his friends to speak these words to Jesus on his behalf. In a real way, the friends of this centurion acted as intercessors before Jesus. Jesus' response was to express amazement at the centurion's faith. Jesus said to the crowd who was with Him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And at that point, the servant was healed by Jesus from a distance. Most of the time, if we have an important request to make of another, we do so in person. We go to the person and speak face-to-face. And though we certainly can go to our Lord in prayer, face-to-face, person to Person, there is something very humble about bringing our needs to our Lord through the intercession of another. Specifically, there is something very humble about asking for the intercession of the saints.Seeking the intercession of the saints before our Lord is not done because we are afraid of our Lord or because He would be offended by us going directly to Him. It is ideally done as an act of the utmost humility. By entrusting our prayer to those who are in Heaven, gazing upon the face of God, we do entrust our prayer to God. But relying upon the intercession of the saints is also a way of acknowledging that we are not worthy, by our own merits, to stand before the Lord and bring Him our request. This humility can be difficult to understand at times, but it's important to try.What is it that you need to pray for in your life right now? As you call that to mind, pick a saint to act as your friend and intercessor before God. Turn to that saint in humility and say a prayer to that saint, admitting that you are not worthy of going to our Lord on your own. Then entrust your petition to that saint and ask him or her to present that prayer to our Lord on your behalf. Praying to our Lord, through the intercession of a saint, is a way of also saying that you know Jesus' response to you is pure mercy on His part. And the good news is that Jesus deeply desires to shower His mercy when we humble ourselves before Him, especially by coming to Him through the mediation of the saints. Reflect, today, upon the humility of this well-respected Roman centurion. Try to understand the power of his humble approach by which he sent his friends to Jesus on his behalf. As you do, pick a saint in Heaven and ask them to go to our Lord on your behalf and request that our Lord grant you the same humility and faith as this centurion. Doing so will lead our Lord to be amazed at your faith and humility also.Saints of God, please offer to Jesus my humble request that I grow more in humility and faith. My precious Lord, I do bring this and all my prayers to You. As I do, I acknowledge that I am not worthy of Your Divine Mercy. But through the mediation of the saints in Heaven, if it be Your will that You bestow Your mercy upon me, then I humbly make this request of You through them. Mother Mary, I especially entrust all my prayers to Your holy intercession. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) - The Torment of Unforgiveness

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2023 6:29

    “‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:32–35Love, kindness, gentleness, mercy…these and many like qualities are easy to think about. They inspire us to be holy by growing in virtue. But sometimes we need more. Sometimes pondering the beauty of the virtues and fruits of the Spirit do not suffice to help us embrace a life of holiness. This is one of the reasons for our parable today.The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola present us with a structure by which a spiritual director may lead a retreatant through a thirty day private retreat. Ignatius outlines thirty days worth of meditations. Interestingly, Ignatius does not begin by inviting a person to ponder the beautiful virtues to which they are called. Instead, for the first week, he has the retreatant ponder the horror of sin and the devastating effects that sin has upon a soul. By doing this, the person's eyes are more fully opened to their own sin so that, in the subsequent three weeks, they will be more properly disposed to reflect upon the inspiring life of Christ and His many virtues.n a sense, our Gospel today is an ideal Gospel to ponder during that first week of an Ignatian retreat. And for that reason, it is an ideal Gospel to ponder anytime we want to get our spiritual lives in order. It is very easy to become complacent in our Christian walk. It is easy to become lukewarm in our prayer and even in our moral life. If that is you to any degree, then this Gospel is worth your careful and thorough attention.The sin that Jesus addresses in this passage is the sin of unforgiveness. It clearly depicts the wrath of God that will be inflicted upon those who refuse to forgive others. The “wicked servant” to whom this is addressed was a man who was forgiven a “huge amount” by God. This is all of us. Every one of us has been forgiven by God an amount that cost Jesus His very life. The consequence of our sins was the death of the Son of God. Each of us deserves the penalty of death. But death has now been transformed into the very means of new life through the forgiveness of sins. And if we want to receive the forgiveness of sins and the new life that awaits us, we must fully share in God's forgiveness. Not only must we receive His forgiveness, we must also forgive those who have sinned against us. Completely. Totally. Without reserve.In this parable, the wicked servant failed to forgive his servant's small debt. In fact, every sin committed against us, no matter how grave in the eyes of God, is a small debt compared to the debt we owe God. For that reason, we must never hesitate to forgive. Never. If this is difficult, and if reflecting upon God's mercy, kindness, compassion and love do not compel you to completely forgive everyone to the fullest extent, then spend time with this parable. “You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” These are words directed at us when we fail to forgive completely from the depths of our hearts. They are merciful words from Jesus to help us wake up to what we need to do.In a commentary on this passage from St. Thomas Aquinas, the “torturers” spoken of, to whom we will be handed over if we do not forgive, are the demons. They will torment us when we lack forgiveness toward others. The torture, for now, will come in the form of obsessing over our wounds, dwelling upon thoughts of revenge, holding grudges, and lacking interior peace. This is the work of the demons, and they will torment us this way until we forgive.Reflect, today, upon the absolute requirement of the Christian life to forgive. Mercy can seem unfair. From the perspective of strict justice, it is. But from the perspective of freedom and the virtues of Heaven, mercy makes perfect sense. Do not hesitate to forgive, for if you can do so from the bottom of your heart, God will lavish upon you the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven.Most merciful Lord, You have forgiven me a huge debt. The cost of my sin was Your death on the Cross. Please fill my heart with such gratitude for this gift that I, in turn, offer the same depth of mercy to others. May I never waver in this depth of mercy so that I am freed from the torments that come from unforgiveness. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Saturday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time - The Path You are On

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2023 6:06

    Jesus said to his disciples: “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.” Luke 6:43–44What a great way to examine the direction of your life! This Gospel passage gets to the heart of how we can best discern whether or not we are truly fulfilling the will of God. Oftentimes we may struggle with knowing clearly if we are doing that which God wants of us. There are many directions in life that we can be pulled toward and many goals we can come up with on our own. For that reason, it is useful from time to time to stop and do an honest inventory of our lives.When you look at the past year of your life, what do you see? Specifically, do you see good fruit being born? Such an examination is helpful to do from time to time. It is useful to make such an examination not only for the past year but for different time periods. Perhaps start by looking at the big picture by looking at all the times in your life that were most fruitful for the glory of God. From there, try to look at your life decade by decade, year by year and then even month by month over this past year. Look for the most blessed moments in your life as well as the most challenging moments.When we examine our lives in this way, it's important to understand what to look for. For example, there may be moments when all went well in one way or another and then other times that were painful and very difficult. What's important to know, from a divine perspective, is that just because something “went well” at one point, or just because something was “painful and very difficult” at another point in our lives, this doesn't mean that the former was the most fruitful for the Kingdom of God or the latter the least fruitful. In fact, heavy crosses and difficulties in life can often be the most fruitful times for us, spiritually speaking. Just look at Jesus' life. Of course, everything He did was fruitful for the glory of the Father in Heaven, but we can easily point to the most painful moment of His life as the most fruitful. His Crucifixion brought forth the greatest good ever known.So it is with our lives. The fruitfulness of our lives is not best discerned by looking at those moments when all was easy, fun, memorable and the like. Though those may also be graced moments, we need to look at spiritual fruitfulness from the divine perspective. We need to look for the moments in our lives, be they easy or difficult, when God was clearly present and when we made choices that gave Him the greatest glory.Reflect, today, upon your life being like a tree that bears spiritual fruit. What times of your life, decisions you made, or activities that you were engaged in produced the most virtue in your life? When was your prayer life the deepest? When was your charity the strongest? When was your faith and hope the most evident? Return to those moments, savor them, learn from them and use them as the best building blocks for the glorious future our Lord desires for you.My glorious Lord, Your life bore fruit of infinite value. You continually chose to fulfill the will of the Father in Heaven, and, as a result, You lived every virtue to perfection. Help me to regularly pause in life so as to examine the direction in which I am going. May I learn from my errors and rejoice in those moments that were most fruitful for Your Kingdom. I love You, Lord. Help me to bear the greatest fruit for Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    September 15, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows - Mother Mary's Sorrowful Heart

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2023 6:45

    Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Son of God, loved her Son with a perfect love. She enfleshed every virtue to perfection. Her love for her Son was a love that was beyond what we could ever imagine. She conceived Him miraculously, bore Him in her womb, gave birth to Him, nursed Him, raised Him and loved Him throughout His life. It's difficult to even imagine the depth and beauty of the love she had for Jesus. Generally speaking, a mother's love is powerful, unwavering, deep and filled with tenderness. Try to imagine the Immaculate Heart of Mother Mary and the amazing depth of love alive in her heart.Imagine also the scene depicted in the Gospel passage quoted above. This loving mother stood at the foot of the Cross, gazing upon her crucified Son, continuing to exude every motherly virtue. And because it's hard to fathom the depth of her love for her Son, it's also very hard to imagine the depth of sorrow and interior suffering she endured as she watched the cruelty toward Jesus unfold. All she could do in that moment was stand by Him and with Him in this moment of extreme agony. Her love was expressed, in that moment, by her fidelity to Him.What's beautiful to know is that love, sorrow, compassion and suffering were united as one within her Immaculate Heart. Within the beauty of her heart was every human emotion, fueled by God's grace, enabling her to give to her Son the greatest gift she had: her motherhood. She was a true mother throughout her life, and, in this moment, as her Son hung on the Cross, her motherhood culminated in a perfect human expression.We all long to be loved by another. To give and receive love is the greatest gift that we can give and receive. Love is what we were made for and is the source of our fulfillment in life. We can be certain that as Mother Mary stood at the foot of the Cross, her human heart experienced the greatest fulfillment ever known. Her heart was fulfilled because she exercised her motherly love to perfection.Gaze upon the image of the Mother of God this day. Ponder, especially, all that she would have experienced within her human heart. Though theologians could write volumes on this meditation, the best way to understand her heart of love is through prayerful meditation. Ask our Blessed Mother to reveal her heart to you today. Find some time to sit in silent adoration of this holy image of perfect motherly love. As you do, know two things. First, know that Mother Mary has this same depth of love for you. Do not doubt it. Her heart burns with compassion as she gazes upon you, even in your sin. Second, know that our Blessed Mother's love must also fill your heart and overflow into the lives of others. We all must allow her compassion, concern, fidelity and mercy to flow through our hearts. Who do you need to love with the heart of our Blessed Mother? Seek to receive the love in the heart of the Mother of God and seek to give that love. Receive it in and then allow it to flow forth. There is truly nothing in this world more beautiful and awe inspiring than the holy image of this love.My Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother, you stood at the foot of the Cross of your Son with the perfection of a mother's love. Your heart was filled with a sorrow that was mixed with every holy virtue. Pray for me that I may understand this love more fully, so that I may also open up my own heart to your love. As I do, I pray that I will become an instrument of the love in your heart toward those in my life who suffer and are in most need of tender compassion and mercy. Sorrowful Heart of Mary, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    September 14, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross - The Transforming Power of the Cross

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2023 6:11

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16–17If Jesus would never have given His life on a cross for the salvation of the world, then a cross would never have been seen in “exultation.” A cross, in and of itself, is an instrument of death, a horrific and violent death. It's also an instrument of humiliation and torture. Yet, today, the Cross is seen as a holy and blessed object. We hang crosses in our homes, wear them around our neck, keep them in our pocket on the end of the rosary, and spend time in prayer before them. The Cross is now an exalted image by which we turn to God in prayer and surrender. But that is only the case because it was on a cross that we were saved and brought to eternal life.If you step back and consider the amazing truth that one of the worst instruments of torture and death is now seen as one of the holiest of images on earth, it should be awe inspiring. Comprehending this fact should lead us to the realization that God can do anything and everything. God can use the worst and transform it into the best. He can use death to bring forth life.Though our celebration today, the “Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross,” is first and foremost a feast by which we give glory to the Father for what He did in the Person of His divine Son, it is also a feast by which we must humbly understand that God can “exalt” every cross we endure in life and bring forth much grace through them.What is your heaviest cross? What is the source of your greatest suffering? Most likely, as you call this to mind, it is painful to you. Most often, our crosses and sufferings are things we seek to rid ourselves of. We easily point to crosses in life and blame them for a lack of happiness. We can easily think that if only this or that were to change or be removed, then our life would be better. So what is that cross in your life?The truth is that whatever your heaviest cross is, there is extraordinary potential for that cross to become an actual source of grace in your life and in the world. But this is only possible if you embrace that cross in faith and hope so that our Lord can unite it to His and so that your crosses can also share in the exaltation of Christ's Cross. Though this is a profoundly deep mystery of faith, it is also a profoundly deep truth of our faith.Reflect, today, upon your own crosses. As you do, try not to see them as a burden. Instead, realize the potential within those crosses. Prayerfully look at your crosses as invitations to share in Christ's Cross. Say “Yes” to your crosses. Choose them freely. Unite them to Christ's Cross. As you do, have hope that God's glory will come forth in your life and in the world through your free embrace of them. Know that these “burdens” will be transformed and become a source of exaltation in your life by the transforming power of God. My exalted Lord, I turn to You in my need and with the utmost faith in Your divine power to save. Please give me the grace I need to fully embrace every cross in my life with hope and faith in You. Please transform my crosses so that You will be exalted through them and so that they will become an instrument of Your glory and grace. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Wednesday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time - A Double Blessing

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2023 7:16

    “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.” Luke 6:24–26Is it dangerous to be rich, to be filled, to laugh, and to have all speak well of you? According to Jesus, it appears so. Why would Jesus warn against these things? And before that, why would He pronounce it blessed to be poor, hungry, weeping and insulted? Essentially, Jesus was condemning four common sins—greed, gluttony, intemperance, and vainglory—and promoting their opposite virtues.Poverty, in and of itself, is not sufficient for holiness. But in Luke's Gospel, Jesus declares it blessed to be poor, literally. This goes further than Matthew's Gospel which says it is blessed to be “poor in spirit.” To be poor in spirit is to be spiritually detached from the material things of this world so that you can be fully open to the riches of God. One common tendency among those with material wealth is to rationalize that even though they have many things, they are detached from them. Hopefully that is the case. However, in Luke's version of the Beatitudes, Jesus directly says, “Blessed are you who are poor” and “woe to you who are rich.” In this teaching, we discover a second blessing not found in Matthew's version. In addition to spiritual detachment (poverty of spirit) being identified as a blessing, literal poverty is proclaimed as the easier way to achieve this spiritual detachment. Material wealth, though not a sin in and of itself, brings with it many temptations toward attachment, self-reliance, and self-indulgence. Thus, spiritually speaking, it is easier to be detached when one is poor, rather than when one is rich. This is a hard truth for both the poor and the rich to accept. The poor often want to be rich, thinking that if they were, they would share their wealth with others and remain detached. The rich often enjoy being rich and believe that they are more spiritually detached than they actually are.Being “hungry” is also identified as a blessed state, whereas being “filled” is a dangerous state. When you are literally hungry, either from fasting or from lack of an abundance of food, it is easier to turn your hunger and thirst toward God so as to be filled by Him and to more easily trust in His providence. An abundance of food, especially fine food, tempts you with a gluttonous satisfaction that makes it difficult to hunger and thirst for God and His holy will in a complete way. Therefore, if you refrain from indulgence and experience hunger, you will be blessed to be free from gluttony and even the temptation toward it.“Laughing” and “weeping” in this case are not referring to joy and despair. Rather, they are referring to those who are always seeking fun and an indulgent life. Many people live for fun, entertainment, and momentary pleasures. Weeping refers to those who have discovered that the fleeting pleasures of the world can never satisfy. Constant entertainment, therefore, brings with it a real temptation, whereas the loss of that form of fleeting pleasure helps eliminate that temptation.Finally, Jesus declares it blessed to be hated, excluded, insulted, and denounced as evil on account of Him rather than being spoken well of by all. In this case, Jesus is referring to the praise that comes from things that mean nothing from an eternal perspective. When all speak well of us, praising qualities and accomplishments that are not true Christian virtues, we will be tempted to rely upon that praise for our satisfaction. But this form of satisfaction is nothing other than vainglory and never truly satisfies in the end. However, when one sees and praises the virtues of God within us, God is praised first and foremost, and we are blessed to share in God's glory.Reflect, today, upon whether you prefer to be rich, to indulge in the best of foods, to be constantly entertained and to be the envy of others, or whether you see the temptations this type of life brings. Reflect also upon the concrete spiritual blessings that come to those who are literally poor, hungry, temperate and humble. This is a very demanding teaching from Jesus. If it doesn't sit well with you, then know that it is a sign that you still have various attachments in life. Reflect, especially, upon the beatitude that is most difficult to embrace, and make that beatitude the source of reflection and prayer. Doing so with honesty and openness will result in you being among those who are truly blessed in the eyes of God. My blessed Lord, You were poor, hungry, temperate and humble to the perfect degree. For these reasons, You were filled with perfect virtue and were satisfied to the greatest degree. Please open my eyes to the deceptions of this world so that I can live with You a life of true holiness, experiencing the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus, I trust in You!Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Tuesday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time - Hearing and Healing

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 11, 2023 5:50

    And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all. Luke 6:17–19The Gospel of Luke presents us with what is traditionally known as the “Sermon on the Plain.” Almost everything Luke includes in this sermon is also found in Matthew's “Sermon on the Mount.” Matthew, however, adds some teachings not found in Luke. Matthew's sermon has three chapters while Luke's has only one.In this, the introduction to this “Sermon on the Plain,” from which we will be reading all week, Luke points out that large numbers of people came from far and wide to listen to Jesus. This crowd included many Jews but also included many people from the pagan territory of Tyre and Sidon. And what was it that drew so many of them? They came to “hear” Jesus preach and “to be healed.” They wanted to hear the words of Jesus since He spoke with great authority and in a way that was changing lives. And they were especially amazed by the healing power that Jesus manifested. The last line of the passage above gives great emphasis to this desire for healing. “Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.”It's interesting that Jesus performed so many powerful miracles as He went about His public ministry. This was especially the case as He began His ministry. He became a sort of instant celebrity to many and was the talk of the many surrounding towns. But it's also interesting to note that, as time went on, Jesus gave more emphasis to His teaching than He did to the miracles.What is it that draws you to our Lord? Perhaps if there were numerous manifest miracles performed today by God, many people would be amazed. But physical miracles are not the greatest work of our Lord and, therefore, should not be the primary focus of our relationship with Him. The primary reason we should be drawn to our Lord is because His holy Word sinks in deeply, changes us and draws us into communion with Him. This is clearly seen by the fact that now that the Gospel message has been deeply established and the Church formed, physical miracles are rare. They do happen, but not in the same way that they did as Jesus first established His public ministry.Reflect, today, upon the primary reason you find yourself drawn to our Lord. Seek out His living Word, spoken within the depths of your heart. The most important miracle that takes place today is that of interior transformation. When a person hears God speak, responds to that Word, and allows Him to change their life, this is among the most important miracles of grace that we could ever encounter. And this is the central reason we should be drawn to Him, seek Him out and follow Him wherever He leads.My miraculous Lord, please draw me to Yourself, teaching in the wilderness of my interior life of silence and solitude. Help me to seek You out so that I can hear Your Word, spoken to me to give me new life. May I always listen to You so that Your holy Word will transform me more fully, making me into the new creation You desire me to be. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Monday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time - Perceiving the Intentions of Others

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 10, 2023 5:44

    On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions… Luke 6:6–8Jesus had a gift. Of course, He had every good gift to perfection. But in today's Gospel, we see one of Jesus' gifts made manifest. Namely, Jesus was able to realize the intentions of those He daily encountered.Normally, we can only know another's intentions if they were to tell us their intentions. We cannot read minds and hearts. But our Lord could. He had the divine ability to read every soul and know every heart. For that reason, when someone came to Him with great faith, He knew it. And when someone came to Him with evil intent, He knew it.When Jesus perceived the ill intentions of the scribes and Pharisees, He used that knowledge to manifest their intentions. They intended to find a reason to accuse Jesus, so He gave them one. Jesus cured a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, and the scribes and Pharisees “became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.” They thought miracles were violations of the law of Sabbath rest. Jesus knew they would apply their twisted logic to this miraculous healing, and He knew they would become enraged at Him on account of their envy. So, in a sense, Jesus provoked them so that that which was in their hearts would come forth for them to see.All of our interior intentions and thoughts are known by God and must become manifest to us in the presence of God. By provoking the scribes and Pharisees in charity, Jesus forces them to face that which was within them. They had to choose to either continue down the path of envy or to realize the foolishness of their interior thoughts. Sadly, for the scribes and Pharisees, it appears that many of them became more hardened in their sin. But this was a choice only they could make.Reflect, today, upon your own interior intentions and thoughts. Why do you do the things you do? What hidden motivations are in your heart? Is there some person, or a certain situation you find yourself in that causes you to obsess in anger interiorly? Or is it true charity that resides within you and is the source of your actions? Is there a profound faith? A supernatural hope? Or is it primarily some sin with which you struggle? Know that Jesus knows your heart, and He wants you also to see clearly those things hidden in your heart. He wants you to see your intentions as clearly as He sees them. Allow Him to reveal the depths of your heart to you so that you can turn away from the sins you find and rejoice in the virtues by which you live.My glorious Lord, you know all thoughts and probe the depths of every heart. You know me, Lord, through and through. Please open my eyes to see that which is within me so that I can discern the ill intentions I have and rejoice in the virtues given to me by You. May I always be attentive to You, dear Lord, so that I become aware of all that You wish to reveal to me. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) - Reconciling With Another

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 9, 2023 6:19

    Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.” Matthew 18:15It takes much humility and a pure heart to confront another person with their sin in such a way that they listen and repent. Normally, confronting another with their sin is done more out of anger than it is out of love. We ought not confront another with their sin out of our woundedness and a desire to inflict guilt as retribution. We ought not confront another to humiliate them or harm them. We should only bring up another's sin because we love them and have already forgiven them and now want them free of their sin for their own good. When this happens and when this is our sole motivation, another might more easily receive correction.This teaching, however, should not only be looked at from the point of view of us confronting others with their sins. It must also be looked at from the perspective of others confronting us with our sins. We sin every day. We sin against those whom we love every day. Therefore, try to think about someone close to you bringing your sin to your attention. How do you react when this happens? Perhaps if they did so with the most pure motivation and compassion, you would listen. But what if they did so because they were angry? Though this is not the ideal way for someone to confront you, it doesn't give you the right to reject what they say. Therefore, it is a good spiritual practice to listen to anyone's concern they bring to you regarding your sin, no matter how they bring it. If, after listening and evaluating their concern with humility you see they are right, even to some degree, then the loving response is to express sorrow, apologize and commit yourself to change. If, however, after humbly evaluating their concern you do not believe that you have sinned, then it is time for you to gently and compassionately try to confront that person with their rash and false judgment.This passage gives three successive levels of confronting a person. First, it must be done one-on-one. Second, it is done with two or three others. Third, it is done in the presence of the Church. Try, at first, to set aside the second and third approach and only look at the first one. The goal of this one-on-one confrontation is reconciliation. It is good to put much energy into reflecting upon how well you do with this sort of situation because if you can do it well, there will be no need for the second or third form of confrontation.The number one enemy of reconciliation is pride. Pride is a habit by which we think about ourselves first and foremost, or even exclusively in the most serious cases. Pride makes self-evaluation impossible. We become blind to our sin and are agitated the moment it is identified or causes problems. Of course, the opposite of pride is humility. This is the virtue that enables us to forget about ourselves and have concern only for others. When a person grows in humility, the evil one will always tempt them with thoughts such as: What about you? You are right and they are wrong! This is unfair! You shouldn't be treated this way! These tempting thoughts must always be rejected. Humility only makes sense when we are humble. To the person who has pride, humility will seem foolish. But humility is true wisdom.Reflect, today, upon how humble you are when someone expresses concern to you about your sin. How do you react? Do you find yourself getting angry and defensive when this happens? If so, be honest and admit to yourself that this is pride; this is your sin. Spend time trying to reflect upon the ideal and humble way you should respond when confronted by another. If reconciliation is your number-one priority in any relationship that has experienced hurt, then that holy and humble desire will become your guide to being able to reconcile with everyone in your life.Most merciful Lord, You came to earth to reconcile us to You and to one another. Please show me my sin and give me the humility I need to see it so that I can repent and turn back to You. Help me to also be open to the many ways that You reveal my sin to me, especially through the mediation of others in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Saturday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time - The Divine Law of Our Lord

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 8, 2023 5:34

    “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.” Luke 6:5This short yet powerful statement by Jesus was spoken in response to the Pharisees who questioned Jesus as to why His disciples were apparently doing what was unlawful on the sabbath. They were walking through a field of grain, picking grain as they walked, and eating it for nourishment on their journey from one town to another.This challenge from the Pharisees highlights their scrupulous approach to the moral law. Recall the Third Commandment given through Moses: “Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God. You shall not do any work…” (Exodus 20:8–10). From this Commandment, the Pharisees had developed a complex commentary which went into great detail about what kind of work was forbidden on the Sabbath in their view. One such regulation was to pick and mill grain. Thus, they judged that this was what the disciples were doing and were, therefore, violating the Third Commandment.The laws of God, as they are given by God, must be followed perfectly. His divine Law refreshes us, enlivens us and enables us to live in union with Him. The Pharisees, however, deeply struggled with a need to control the lives of the people through their human interpretation of the divine Law. By saying that “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath,” Jesus made it clear that this scrupulous interpretation of the Third Commandment taught by the Pharisees did not align with the truths of that divine Law.One lesson to learn from this encounter is that each one of us can easily fall into a similar trap. It's easy to replace God's true Law with our perception of faith and morality. We are weak human beings, and there are many things that affect our thinking and our convictions in life. Emotions, habits, family relationships, friendships, media and so many other things affect us in powerful ways. Sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. We can easily arrive at certain judgments of faith and morality that are slightly erroneous, being based on subtle errors. As a result, we can easily begin to get off track in our thinking and convictions and, over time, can find that we have deviated far from the truths of God. When this happens, it can be difficult to humbly admit it and change our convictions.Reflect, today, upon the humble truth that Jesus and Jesus alone is Lord of the divine Law. This means that we must perpetually remain open to changing our opinions when we hear our Lord speak to us. Ponder any way in which you have become overly attached to your own opinions. If they bring forth peace, joy, charity and the like, then they are most likely in union with God. If they are burdensome, a cause of confusion, contention or frustration, then you may need to step back and humbly reexamine the convictions you hold, so that He Who is Lord of all will be able to speak His divine Law to you more clearly.Lord of all Truth, You and You alone are the guide of my life. You and You alone are the Truth. Help me to be humble, dear Lord, so that I can recognize any error in my convictions and turn to You and Your divine Law as the one and only guide for my life. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    September 8, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - The Birth of the Mother of God

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2023 6:04

    “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20–21Today we celebrate one of the most consequential birthdays in the history of the world! Certainly, the only birthday more important is that of our divine Lord Himself. But today we honor His mother, and our mother, too.The Blessed Virgin Mary was born into our world without the stain of original sin. She was preserved from experiencing fallen human nature through the gift of her Immaculate Conception. Thus, she was the first to be born in the perfection of human nature after the fall, and she continued to experience this grace throughout her life, responding to God with her free will every step of the way. All of us enjoy celebrating our birthdays. Children especially love it, but most everyone looks forward to that special day each year when family and friends honor them and celebrate them in a special way. For that reason, we can be assured that even our Blessed Mother loved her birthday while here on earth and continues to enjoy this special celebration in Heaven. Of course, she did not enjoy her birthday because she wanted to be pampered or given special attention. She, perhaps more than anyone other than her divine Son, rejoiced on her birthday because of the deep spiritual gratitude she had to God for all that He did in her life.Try to ponder the heart and soul of our Blessed Mother from her perspective. She would have been intimately united to each person of the Most Holy Trinity throughout her life. She would have known God, living in her soul, and would have been in awe of what God had done to her. She would have pondered these graces with deep humility and exceptional gratitude. She would have seen her soul and mission from the perspective of God, keenly aware of all that He had done for her.As we honor the birthday of our Blessed Mother, it's also an important opportunity for each of us to ponder the incredible blessings that God has bestowed upon each one of us. No, we are not Immaculate as Mother Mary was. We were each born into original sin and have sinned throughout our lives. But the blessings of grace, given to each one of us, is exceptionally real. We only need to work to have the eyes to see these graces. Baptism, for example, bestows upon the soul an eternal transformation. Though our sin may cloud that transformation at times, the transformation is eternal. Our souls are changed. We are made new. Grace is poured into our hearts, and we become children of God. And for the soul who is able to perceive the countless other ways that God bestows blessings, gratitude is the only appropriate response.Reflect, today, upon the glorious celebration of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Begin by trying to rejoice in her life through her eyes. Try to imagine what she saw as she looked into her own graced soul. From there, try to rejoice, also, in your soul. Be grateful for all that God has done for you. Work to have eyes that see these countless graces and allow yourself to rejoice in God's blessings with our Blessed Mother. My dearest Mother, happy birthday! Today I rejoice in the incredible gift that God gave to you in your Immaculate Conception and birth into our world. I pray that I may honor you in a fitting way this day and to especially understand more clearly the beauty of your graced soul. Pray for me that I may also rejoice in the countless graces bestowed upon me by our merciful God. I love you, dear Mother. Precious Jesus, through the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I trust in You!Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Thursday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time - A Personal Encounter

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2023 7:14

    When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Luke 5:8Consider carefully this very moving action of Simon Peter. Jesus had just begun His public ministry, healing Simon's mother-in-law as one of His first miracles. After that, Simon witnessed Jesus heal many other sick people and cast out many demons. And then, shortly after these initial miracles, Jesus got into the boat of Simon, directed him to “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” As soon as Simon obeyed, he caught so many fish that they needed a second boat to come and help them. The response of Simon to this additional miracle is recorded above.Three things take place in this passage. First, “Simon Peter saw this…” And though he saw this, literally with his eyes, we should see his “seeing” as something even deeper. Simon Peter saw not just the best day of fishing he had ever had. He saw God's grace at work through Jesus and was deeply moved interiorly by what he saw. Jesus used that which was one of the most central parts of Simon Peter's life (fishing) to manifest His divine power. In a sense, Jesus brought this lesson home to Simon, using fishing as the source of His lesson.Secondly, Simon's response was perfect. By encountering this divine miracle, Simon immediately was aware of his sin. Though we do not know what Simon's sin was, it is clear that this encounter with our Lord led him to immediately call to mind whatever he was guilty of. Perhaps he had struggled with some ongoing habitual sin for years, or perhaps he had done something of a grave nature that still haunted him. But all we know is that Simon's encounter with this very powerful and personal miracle moved him to an awareness of his sin.Thirdly, Simon falls at the knees of Jesus and tells the Lord to depart from him. And though Jesus' mercy is so great that Jesus would never depart from him, Simon is not only aware of the fact that he is unworthy to be in Jesus' presence, but he also manifests this conviction through his humble action of repentance. What does Jesus do? He said, “Do not be afraid…” And when these new disciples arrived at shore, “they left everything and followed him.”Each one of us must encounter our Lord in this same way. We must see Jesus. We must be deeply attentive to Him. We must recognize His presence, hear His voice and see His action in our life. If this is done well and through faith, then our personal encounter with our Lord will shine light on the sin we need to repent of. This is not so that we remain in guilt and shame; rather, it is so that we can also humble ourselves before Jesus and acknowledge we are not worthy of Him. When this humble admission is done well, we can be assured that Jesus will also say to us, “Do not be afraid.” His consoling words to us must then be responded to with the same choice made by Simon and the others. We must be ready and willing to leave everything behind so as to follow Him.Reflect, today, upon this image of Simon Peter on his knees before Jesus. See his humility and honesty. See his sincerity and interior awareness. And see his understanding of the divine power of Jesus before him. Pray that you, too, will see our Lord, experience your sin, humble yourself before Him and hear Him call you to radically and completely follow after Him wherever He leads.My consoling Lord, You manifested Your almighty power to Simon Peter through his ordinary daily activity. You allowed him to see Your divine power at work. Help me to see You at work in my life also, dear Lord. And as I see You, help me to humble myself before You, acknowledging my unworthiness. As I do, I pray that I also hear You say to me “Do not be afraid,” so that I can get up and follow You wherever You lead. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Wednesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time - Laying the Foundation

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 5, 2023 6:30

    After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon's mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. Luke 4:38–39If you wanted to share some important message with a group of people, you would first need to get their attention. This could be done through a variety of means, such as through a charismatic personality, a powerfully moving story, a heroic act of virtue, or anything else that leaves people impressed or even amazed. Once you have their complete attention, you can share the message you want to share. This is what Jesus did in today's Gospel.Jesus began His public ministry in Nazareth, but the people of his hometown rejected Him from their Synagogue. Therefore, He immediately traveled some 20 miles on foot to Capernaum, a town just north of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus would spend much of His time. In this first visit to Capernaum, at the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus taught in their Synagogue, cast out a demon, and then went to the home of Simon (who eventually was given the name Peter) to perform His first recorded physical healing in Luke's Gospel. He cured Simon's mother-in-law, who suffered from a severe fever. Then, later that evening, many people brought to Jesus the sick and possessed, and Jesus “Laid his hands on each of them and cured them.” He certainly got their attention. And the next morning, as Jesus was preparing to leave Capernaum after this first visit during His public ministry, the people tried to convince Jesus to stay. However, Jesus said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.”Has Jesus ever gotten your complete attention? Though you most likely have never witnessed a miraculous healing first hand or seen a demon being cast out of one who was possessed, Jesus still wants your full attention. He wants you to be so amazed at Him and so impressed by Him that you find yourself seeking Him out so as to be more fully fed by His divine teaching.Some people give their full attention to our Lord after a powerful experience on a retreat. Others are struck by a powerful sermon. And there will be countless other ways by which Jesus has gotten your attention so as to fill you with a desire to listen to Him and be with Him. Such experiences lay a wonderful foundation by which we are continually invited to turn to our Lord. If this is not an experience to which you can relate, then ask yourself the question “Why?” Why haven't you been amazed by our Lord to the point that you fervently seek Him out so as to listen to His nourishing Word? Reflect, today, upon this initial way by which our Lord got the attention of the people of Capernaum. Though some would eventually turn from Him, many did become faithful followers on account of these personal experiences.Reflect upon any way that you have encountered our Lord powerfully in the past. Have you allowed that experience to become an ongoing motivation for you to seek Him out? And if you cannot point to any such experience, beg our Lord to give you an interior drive to desire more of Him and to be fed by His holy Word and divine presence. My miraculous Lord, I know that You desire my complete attention in life. And I know that I am often distracted by many things that compete with You. Give me the grace I need to become so amazed by You and by Your action in my life that I fervently seek You out so as to be continually nourished by Your holy Word and divine presence in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time - Authority and Power

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 4, 2023 5:47

    They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region. Luke 4:36–37Jesus had just encountered the wrath of many in His hometown of Nazareth, so He left there and traveled about 30 miles to Capernaum, a town just north of the Sea of Galilee. This was to become His new home during His public ministry. The reaction He received in Capernaum was much different than that which He received in Nazareth. As He taught in the Synagogue in Capernaum, a man with a demon came to Him, Jesus rebuked the demon and cast it out, and the people were amazed. Word spread about Jesus quickly. After this, Jesus performed many other miracles, and the people continued to be in awe of Him.What was it that impressed the people of Capernaum? In part it was the “authority and power” with which Jesus spoke and acted. But it was not only this, since Jesus had done so also in Nazareth where the people failed to believe in Him. In Capernaum it wasn't that Jesus was different, it seems that the people were different. Jesus won over many hearts in Capernaum because the people were open to the gift of faith. In fact, when Jesus was preparing to leave from Capernaum, the people begged Him to stay. Though eventually Jesus would also encounter resistance from the people there, their initial reaction was one of faith.Do you want Jesus to act powerfully in your life? Do you want Him to act upon you with authority and power? Many people, from time to time, can feel as though their lives are somewhat out of control. They experience weakness, confusion, a lack of direction and the like. For that reason, true spiritual “authority and power” is very welcome. What sort of authority and power do you need Jesus to exert over your life today?Think of a small child who is frightened. When this happens, the child turns to a loving parent for comfort and security. The embrace of a parent immediately helps to dispel the fear and worry of the child. So it is with us. We must see Jesus as the source of calm in our lives. He is the only one Who is capable of ordering our lives, freeing us from the attacks of the evil one, bringing peace and calm to our disordered emotions and clarity to our questions and doubts. But this will only be possible if we are open. His power never changes, but it can only enter our lives when we change and when we recognize our weakness and our need for Him to take control.Reflect, today, upon the infinite spiritual authority and power of our Lord. It is a power beyond anything else we could imagine. He wants to exercise this authority in your life out of love. What is hindering Him from taking greater control of your life? What sin or temptation does Jesus want to rebuke in your life? From what oppression does He want to set you free? Reflect upon yourself being a member of the town of Capernaum who fully welcomes Jesus, is amazed at Him and desires Him in your life. His working in your life depends upon you and your response to Him. Call on Him and let Him in. My most powerful Lord, You and You alone are able to take authority over my life and bring order and peace. Please remove any doubt and stubbornness from my heart so that I can open myself to You and Your grace. Take authority of my life, dear Lord, and lead me into Your most holy will. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Monday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time - An Emotional Reaction to Jesus

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 3, 2023 6:26

    When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away. Luke 4:28–30It's hard to believe that those people who knew Jesus, those from the town in which He had been raised, reacted in such a severe way to our Lord. Jesus had just entered the Synagogue and read from the Prophet Isaiah who stated that “the Spirit of the Lord” was upon him and that he had come to “proclaim liberty to captives.” Jesus' mission was clear. He was the Messiah, sent from the Father, in fulfillment of the teachings of the prophets, and yet Jesus was rejected to the point that the people drove Him out of the town and tried to throw Him off a cliff near the town to kill Him. Again, it's hard to comprehend the extreme emotions that people experienced in regard to Jesus. Some came to love Jesus with the deepest passion, others were outraged at Him and sought His life.One thing that these extreme emotions experienced by many should tell us is that we cannot remain indifferent to Jesus when we truly listen to His words. Indifference comes when Jesus is ignored. But when He is heard and understood, it is clear that His message demands a response. If we do not fully accept Him as we listen to His message, then we will be tempted to reject Him and all that He speaks.Jesus wants to do the same with us. He wants a response from us. First, He wants us to hear Him, to understand the radical nature of His message, and then to make a choice. He wants us to follow Him with passion and zeal, to believe in everything He teaches, and to radically change our lives as a result. And if we will not change, then Jesus' words will challenge us and evoke a response.One example of this that is common today is the strong response that sometimes comes from a teenager or young adult when a loving parent confronts them when they begin to go astray. When confronted in love and with the truth, emotion is often evoked and stirred up. But that is not always bad. The temptation on the part of the parent is to back off and compromise. But that's not what Jesus did with the townspeople. He spoke the truth in love and accepted their response. So it is with those in our lives. At times we must speak the hard but loving truth others need to hear even if we know they will lash out. In the end, challenging them with compassion and truth may ultimately win them over. We do not know what ultimately happened to those townspeople who tried to kill Jesus that day out of anger, but it is entirely possible that the extreme emotion they experienced eventually led them to the truth.Reflect, today, upon the courage and love Jesus had as He directly confronted and challenged His own townspeople for their lack of faith. Try to understand that Jesus' challenge of them was a mercy He offered them to move them from indifference. In your life, are there ways in which you need to be challenged? Are there things you have reacted strongly to and even with a form of rage? Try to see yourself as one of those townspeople who became enraged by our Lord. Be open to any way that you have reacted negatively to that which Jesus has spoken to you. Consider, also, any ways that Jesus may want to use you to speak His clear message of love to another, even if you know it may not immediately be received. Pray for courage, compassion, clarity and love so that you will be able to imitate Jesus as He sought to move those of His own hometown out of the indifference they were experiencing.My challenging Lord, You desire that all Your children turn to You with their whole heart. Your chastisements are acts of mercy meant to move us out of indifference. Please speak to me the truths that I need to hear this day and use me to share Your holy word with others, especially those of my own family. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) - Fear of the Cross

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 2, 2023 6:11

    “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?” Matthew 16:24–26Just before Jesus gave this teaching, He predicted to the Twelve for the first time that He would “suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” In fear, Peter objected, saying, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” To Peter's statement, Jesus responds firmly, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” What a difficult thing that must have been to hear from Jesus!Jesus was ready and willing to suffer and die for the salvation of the world. He knew that by dying He would transform death itself into the very means of eternal salvation. He knew that laying down His life in this way was the greatest act of love He could offer; therefore, Jesus didn't hesitate at all. He was ready and willing to give His human life so that we could live.To understand this we must realize three things. First, by assuming our human nature, Jesus forged a bond between God and humanity. Second, by sharing in our death He made it possible for us to cling to Him in our own death. Third, by rising from the dead, Jesus made it possible for those who cling to Him in death to also share in His Resurrection. Though we will only fully understand this great mystery of redemption in Heaven, we must strive to comprehend it as best we can here on earth.Peter did not understand this, at least not at that moment when Jesus first revealed it. Peter allowed fear to tempt him to interfere in Jesus' glorious act of salvation. This is why Jesus rebuked him so strongly. It was a loving rebuke meant to free Peter from his fear and to give him courage to embrace the Sacrifice Jesus was about to offer.The passage quoted above follows Peter's rebuke and is Jesus' instruction on how we will all share in His gift of salvation. In order to rise with Christ, we must freely die with Him. We must deny ourselves, meaning all selfishness and sin, and imitate Jesus' heroic sacrificial gift of His life. The result will be that we are united to Him in His death and in His Resurrection to new life.Fear can paralyze us. But fear, in this case, is a response that is based on an error. We embrace that error when we act out of selfishness. Each of us will die. That's a fact. The question is how we die. We can either die selfishly, seeing our earthly life as the center of all. Or we can die in a self-giving way with our Lord by uniting ourselves to His act of sacrificial love. We do this by turning our eyes away from ourselves and seeking out every way that we can imitate Jesus' death. We must strive to serve, live sacrificially, put God's will first, unite ourselves to Christ, and make love for our neighbor our mission in life. This is what Jesus did. When we do this, we take up our cross, follow Him, die with Him, and are prepared to share in His Resurrection. This is the only way to eternal life.Reflect, today, upon the words “Take up your cross and follow Me.” This is Jesus' most sacred instruction to us all on how we should live and how we will share in His gift of eternal life. What cross in your life are you fearful of? What act of sacrifice do you avoid? True love hurts in the sense that it is always selfless. We must die to ourselves. Reflect upon any way that you fail to do this, and allow Jesus' rebuke of Peter to also rebuke you so that you will be freed from the fear of this holy sacrificial love that will unite you to our Lord.My sacrificial Lord, You did not fear laying down Your sacred life for us all. You embraced Your mission of love by entering into death itself so that we could die with You and thus share in Your Resurrection. Please free me from all fear of the crosses in my life and help me to fully embrace a life of sacrificial love. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Saturday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time - Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Superabundance

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 1, 2023 7:01

    “The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.' His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.'” Matthew 25:20–21Oftentimes, when we are presented with a story of success versus tragedy, our attention goes to the tragedy first. The parable we are given today, the Parable of the Talents, presents us with three persons. Two of the people display stories of great success. One, however, offers a story that is more tragic. The tragic story ends by the master telling the servant who buried his money that he is a “wicked, lazy servant!” But both of the success stories end with the master saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.” Let's focus upon these success stories.Both of the servants who were successful doubled the master's money. Even from a secular point of view, that is very impressive. If you were investing money with a financial advisor and shortly after investing you were told that your money had doubled, you'd be quite pleased. Such a rate of return is rare. This is the first message we should take from this parable. Doubling the gifts and graces God gives us is very doable. The reason for this is not primarily because of us; rather, it's because of God. By their very nature, God's gifts to us are meant to grow. By its very nature, grace flows in superabundance; and, when we cooperate with God's grace, then it grows in an exponential way.When you consider your own life, what gifts has God given to you that He wants you to use for His glory? Are there gifts buried away that remain stagnant or, even worse, are used for purposes that are contrary to the divine plan for your life? Some of the more obvious gifts you were given within your very nature are your intellect and will. Additionally, you may be extra-talented in one way or another. These are all gifts given on a natural level. In addition to these, God often bestows supernatural gifts in abundance when we begin to use what we have for His glory and for the salvation of others. For example, if you work to share the truths of our faith with others, God will begin to deepen your supernatural gifts of Counsel, Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding so that you will be able to speak about God and His will. All seven of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are among the clearest examples of supernatural gifts given by God as follows: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of the Lord. The prayer that concludes this reflection comes from a traditional novena to the Holy Spirit and not only asks for these gifts but also gives a short description of them for a better understanding. Reflect, today, upon the fact that what God has given to you, both on a natural and supernatural level, must be devoted to the service of God and others. Do you do this? Do you try to use every talent, every gift, every part of who you are for God's glory and the eternal good of others? If you don't, then those gifts dwindle away. If you do, you will see those gifts of God's grace grow in manifold ways. Strive to understand the gifts you have received and firmly resolve to use them for God's glory and the salvation of souls. If you do, you will also hear our Lord say to you one day, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, grant me the Spirit of Wisdom, that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal; the Spirit of Understanding, to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth; the Spirit of Counsel, that I may choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining Heaven; the Spirit of Fortitude, that I may bear my cross with Thee and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation; the Spirit of Knowledge, that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints; the Spirit of Piety, that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable; the Spirit of Fear of the Lord, that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Friday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time - Being Prepared by Charity

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2023 6:25

    Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.” Matthew 25:1–2The “ten virgins” in this parable refer to the bridesmaids who were following Jewish tradition by going to the home of the bride to await the coming of the groom for a wedding. This parable is one of a few parables Jesus told that emphasizes the importance of being vigilant in our Christian walk. As the parable goes on, we are told that the groom was delayed and that the bridesmaids fell asleep. Upon waking, the foolish ones had no more oil for their lamps and had to leave to get some more. When they returned, they discovered that the groom had already arrived and that the door was locked. They then knocked and said, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” But the reply came to them, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.” And they missed out on the wedding celebration.Traditionally, the “oil” has been understood as a reference to charity. The message is simple. As we prepare to meet our Lord in Heaven, it is not enough to make the claim that we are Christians. We must also produce the good fruit of charity by our actions. Faith must result in charity, otherwise it is not true faith at all.This parable should be taken seriously. We should use it as a regular source of examination of our lives in regard to the charity we have...or do not have. When you look at your life, can you point to regular acts of charity that flow from your love of God and are bestowed upon others? Charity is not based on your preferences in life. It's not based on what you feel like doing. Charity is always selfless and sacrificial. It always looks toward the good of the other. How much charity is alive in your life? Jesus clearly told this parable because He was aware of many who professed a faith in God but did not live the love of God. It's very easy to live our lives day in and day out, doing what we do because of our personal likes or dislikes. However, it is very difficult to foster true charity within our souls and to regularly choose to love others because it is good for them.We must work to foster charity, first, in our thoughts. Critical and condemning thoughts must be eliminated, and we must strive to see others as God sees them. Charity must also direct our words. Our words must be encouraging of others, kind, supportive and merciful. Our actions become charitable when we become generous with our time, go out of our way to serve and are diligent in the ways we express our love of others.Reflect, today, upon the high calling you have been given to live an active and manifest life of charity. Spend time reflecting upon what charity truly is. Have you allowed yourself to become guided by a more secular and selfish form of “love?” Do you act more out of selfish preferences than out of self-giving and sacrifice? Do you truly build people up and witness the love of God to them? Try to answer these questions seriously. This parable spoken from our Lord is much more than a story. It is truth. And the truth is that some will arrive at the day of judgment without the necessary “oil” for their lamps. Take our Lord seriously and examine your life of charity. Where you are lacking, become fervent in your mission to change. In the end, you will be eternally grateful you did.My loving Lord, You showed us all that true love is selfless and sacrificial. You came to this world to serve and to give Your sacred life for us all. May I open my life more fully to Your love so that Your love may also affect and direct every relationship I have. Fill me with the gift of charity, dear Lord, so that I will be fully prepared for the day of my particular judgment. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Thursday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time - Gentle Promptings of Grace

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2023 6:52

    “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Matthew 24:42–44Our Lord contrasts the call to stay awake with those who are asleep. Clearly, by stating “Stay awake!” so emphatically, Jesus is also telling us that it is easy to fall asleep, spiritually speaking. So are you more often awake and attentive to His presence? Or are you most often asleep and therefore unaware of His presence?First of all, this exhortation must be understood as a reference to our passing from this life. And though most who are younger do not expect to pass suddenly and unprepared, we know that this does happen. It could happen to any one of us at any time, unexpectedly and without warning. Therefore, we must see this passionate exhortation from Jesus to be a clear warning to always be ready to meet Him in our particular judgment upon our passing from this life.With that said, this passage is also an invitation to become increasingly aware of the countless ways in which Jesus speaks to us each and every day. The goal of the Christian life must be to be continually at prayer. This does not mean that we are necessarily “saying” prayers all day every day. Rather, it means that we form a spiritual habit of becoming continually attentive to the promptings of grace given to us throughout our lives. God wants to lead us always. He wants to inspire us with His grace every day all day. He wants us to have one eye on the things that occupy our day and the other eye upon Him, allowing Him to gently lead us through everything.Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that God is only concerned about the big decisions of life. But the truth is that God is most clearly found in the details of life, even the smallest ones: a short exchange of words with a family member, a smile at a co-worker, a kind gesture to a stranger, and a random prayer offered for an anonymous person in need of that prayer. All of these are but a few examples of the many ways that God wants to commune with us every day throughout the day. And this can only happen if we are continually awake and attentive to His gentle promptings of grace.How is this accomplished? How do we become attentive to God as He speaks to us and guides us every moment of every day? It is done by forming a spiritual habit of ongoing prayer. We begin by setting aside time for prayer every day, time in which all we do is pray. We set aside all distractions and begin by offering prayers, meditating upon scripture, attending the Mass, speaking from our hearts, etc. But from there, this special time of prayer, set aside exclusively for God, must begin to have an effect upon us throughout the day. And when we get distracted by the things of the world, we stop again, focus exclusively on God, and invite Him to be with us yet again. And then this is done again, and again, and again. Prayer must become a consuming habit by which God becomes present to everything we do. When this happens, we become spiritually “awake” to Him always.Reflect, today, upon this clear and concise exhortation from our Lord. “Stay awake!” Let those words resonate within you. Hear them as a call to form this holy habit of prayer throughout the day. If you do so, God will slowly take over your life and lead you each and every day into His holy will. And through you, God will be able to extend His love and mercy to many who are in your life and beyond.My demanding Lord, You desire me to live my day, every day, in such a way that I am continually attentive to You. Please help me to form a holy habit of listening to You and responding to all that You say to me always. My life is Yours, dear Lord. Lead me continually by Your gentle Hand of grace. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Wednesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time - The Firmness and Strength of Love

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 29, 2023 6:09

    Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.” Matthew 23:27–28This would not have been an easy thing for the scribes and Pharisees to hear. It is a hard truth, spoken by our Lord, partly in an attempt to shake them free of their sin. And even though they may not have enjoyed hearing this clear condemnation spoken, since it came from the Savior of the World, we can be sure that these are words of the deepest love and were spoken so that these men would repent and change their ways.Perhaps each of us, at times, feels like criticizing another. Most often, when we feel this way, it stems from our own personal sin of anger. Perhaps we were hurt by another and that hurt results in a desire for a form of vengeance that comes from anger. But this was not the case with Jesus.First, these words were spoken by Jesus to his disciples and to the crowds of people, not only to the scribes and Pharisees. So in many ways Jesus spoke this for the good of those who were suffering under the misguided leadership of these religious leaders. But Jesus knew that these leaders would also hear His words, so He spoke those words to them. But unlike us, He did it out of perfect virtue so as to care for their souls.At times, each one of us needs to hear Jesus rebuke us in love. If any of the scribes and Pharisees were open at that time, then Jesus' words would have first stung them to the heart but then had the powerful effect of challenging them to change. They needed this and so do we. When we become stuck in our sins, especially if obstinacy sets in, then we need to allow Jesus to challenge us firmly. Such a challenge can be rattling, but that rattling is sometimes necessary. Emotion and passion can lead to sin, but it can also lead to repentance and conversion. The passion with which Jesus spoke became an instrument by which their own passions made them sit up and take notice. The result was that they either became more steeped in their sin or they repented. And though most became even more steeped in sin, which ultimately resulted in their persecution and death of Jesus, we can hope that there were some who did repent, such as Nicodemus.Reflect, today, upon the strength of Jesus' words to these religious leaders. Though they were supposed to be both “religious” and “leaders,” they were neither. They needed Jesus' strength, courage and firmness. They needed to be confronted directly and receive the hard and clear truth about their sin. Reflect upon what it is in your own life that Jesus wants to say to you. Is there an area of your life in which our Lord needs to address you with passion, strength, clarity and firmness? Most likely there is. Perhaps not in an area of serious sin like it was with these scribes and Pharisees, but if we are open, Jesus wants to powerfully go after every sin within us. Open yourself to Him and allow Him to help rid you of the sins with which you struggle the most. And be grateful for this grace when He does.My passionate Lord, You hate sin but love the sinner. You perfectly desire to rid me of all sin and all attachment to sin. Please open my mind and heart to hear Your rebukes of Love so that I may respond to Your invitation to repent with all my heart. I love You dear Lord. Free me from sin so that I may love You more. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    August 29, Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist - Fidelity in Suffering

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 28, 2023 5:56

    Herod was the one who had John the Baptist 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. Mark 6:17–19The suffering and death of Saint John the Baptist greatly parallels the suffering and death of Jesus. They were cousins. John was one of the first to acknowledge the divine presence of our Lord when he leaped for joy in the womb of his mother during the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. John lived a holy and simple life, embracing His mission to prepare the way for the Lord. He was the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Of him, Jesus said that there was no one born of woman who was greater than John. For these reasons, we should not be the least bit surprised that John's suffering and death parallelled and prefigured the death of the Savior of the World.Herod was fearful of John, believing him to be a holy man of God. He imprisoned him with a certain regret, knowing that he was innocent. Similarly, before Pilate condemned Jesus to death, he found Him not guilty of any crime. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent but allowed fear to direct his choice to condemn our Lord.John was ultimately killed because of the hatred and plotting of Herodias, the unlawful wife of Herod. It was Herodias' anger that became a weapon, forcing Herod to put John to death. Similarly, it was the jealousy and anger of the religious leaders at that time that instigated and drove the death of Jesus. Pilate, like Herod, was at first unwilling to condemn our Lord. But the relentless hatred of the scribes and Pharisees compelled Pilate to condemn Jesus, just as it was Herodias' hatred that compelled Herod to kill John.After John's death, some of his disciples came to carry his body away for burial. This was permitted by Herod, perhaps because of his feelings of guilt. So also with our Lord, Pilate permitted some disciples and the holy women to carry Jesus' dead body to the tomb for burial.In the end, the good fruit of Jesus' death infinitely overshadowed the crime that was committed against Him. So also with John. We can be certain that, as a martyr, the blood he shed as a witness to Christ bore spiritual fruit that surpassed all he had done in his public ministry.Each of us is called to imitate our Lord and, therefore, should also take inspiration from Saint John the Baptist. They both were innocent but suffered greatly. They both spoke the truth, despite the hatred of some. They both gave their lives, in accord with the Father's plan. Jesus was John's Savior; John was but a precursor and servant of our Lord.Reflect, today, upon the invitation God has given to you to imitate the life of John the Baptist by uniting yourself to his Lord. The first form of imitation will take place when you commit yourself to the proclamation of the truth in accord with your mission. What mission has God given to you? How is He calling you to proclaim the Gospel with courage, strength, determination and fidelity to the end? Reflect, also, upon the injustice inflicted first upon John and then upon our Lord. As you do, try to look at any injustice you have received in life in the light of John's and Jesus' lives. They did not run away from injustice. They embraced it as a sacrifice and offered it to the Father in Heaven. Jesus' Sacrifice brought forth the Salvation of the World; John's was but a sharing in that glorious offering. Make your offering with them, and do not hesitate to do so with deep love and trust in the Father's plan.Most glorious Lord, You invited Saint John the Baptist to prepare the way for Your coming and Your death. He gave his life as a martyr, and this sacrifice bore an abundance of good fruit. Please give me the grace to walk in his footsteps by faithfully fulfilling my mission in life with courage and strength. May I never waver in the face of injustice so that I can embrace it and make it my spiritual offering to You. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time - Unity of Truth and Virtue

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 27, 2023 6:07

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.” Matthew 23:13Today begins Jesus' “Woe to you…” condemnations of the scribes and Pharisees. He issues seven subsequent condemnations. The one quoted above is His first. At the time, Jesus' condemnations of these religious leaders fell mostly on deaf ears. They were obstinate and would not listen to what Jesus had to say. But it's useful to note that these condemnations appear to actually be spoken about the scribes and Pharisees to the disciples and the crowds to whom Jesus was speaking.Though there are many lessons we can learn from our Lord, let's consider the first thing He says. He condemns hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is essentially saying one thing and doing another. It's a disconnect between what we say and what we do. Hypocrisy can also come in the form of trying to present oneself as if one has every virtue under Heaven but in reality cares little for the clear doctrine and moral precepts given us by God. In the scripture passage, the scribes and Pharisees claimed to be leading people to salvation, but they were condemning the very source of salvation. On one hand, some of what they taught was true, but they failed to teach with the virtue that comes from God. On the other hand, some of what they taught was flat-out erroneous, because they were more concerned about their public persona than they were about the truth. Essentially, they were hypocrites, because their words and actions were neither united in the truth nor lived through the virtues given by God.These two opposing tendencies seem to be a source of much division within our Church today. On the extreme “right,” we have those who preach doctrine but fail to exercise the necessary virtue so as to be effective instruments of those truths. And on the extreme “left” are those who act as if so-called virtue is all that matters. They deemphasize the clear and unambiguous moral and doctrinal truths that were given to us by our Lord, so that others will praise them for appearing kind, accepting and compassionate toward all. The problem is that one cannot exclude truth from virtue or virtue from truth. Compassion is not compassionate if it lacks truth, and the truth is not true if it is not presented with the virtues by which our Lord wants them brought forth. And though the scribes and Pharisees appear to be more focused upon their interpretations of various truths to the exclusion of virtue, their struggle with hypocrisy is just as real for those on both extremes today.Reflect, today, upon the importance of embracing each and every moral and doctrinal precept given by our Lord. We must embrace everything He says with every fiber of our being. Reflect, also, upon how you express these teachings of Jesus to others. Do you strive to present the full Gospel with the greatest virtue? The deeper the truth, the more necessary is the virtue with which it is presented. And the more virtue you have, the better instrument of the full truth you will be. Strive to overcome every form of hypocrisy within your life by working toward true holiness. Holiness is wholeness. The Truth united to virtue. Only then will you escape from the condemnation of our Lord, but you will also thrive as a pure instrument of His saving grace. My saving Lord, You desired deeply that the religious leaders of the time be powerful instruments of Your saving Gospel by presenting all truth in pure love. Please free me from every error so that Your holy Word will be alive in me and will be sent forth to others through the manifestation of the many virtues You wish to bestow. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) - The Foundation Within

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 26, 2023 5:47

    Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Matthew 16:13Today's Gospel scene takes place about twenty miles north of the Sea of Galilee outside of Herod's jurisdiction and away from the Pharisees' watchful eyes. This is a private conversation between Jesus and His disciples that took place where they could speak freely. For that reason, this conversation is particularly personal in nature in that the disciples felt free to express their personal convictions without fear of retribution.As the conversation unfolds, Jesus asks two consecutive questions. First, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Second, “But who do you say that I am?” By asking these two questions, Jesus first invites the disciples to identify the different opinions floating around about Him and then gives the disciples an opportunity to speak their own conviction. Peter responds on behalf of them all when he solemnly professes, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”If Jesus were to ask you these two questions, what would you answer? First, what is the general opinion about Jesus that most people have today? When asked, most Christians would give the correct answer. Jesus is God. He is the Savior. He is the Son of the Father. But sometimes those answers are more theoretical than they are personal. Often it is easy to believe things about Jesus rather than believing in Jesus. So if you were to answer the second question, what would you say? Ideally, you would answer that Jesus is your Savior, your God, your Shepherd, your Lord. Faith in Jesus must not only be theoretical, it must be deeply personal, flowing from the depths of your heart.Deep personal faith in Jesus can only come from one source. It comes from the Father speaking to your heart in a real and personal way. After Peter professed His faith in Jesus, Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” Peter's personal faith in Jesus was not just something he heard from others, it was not just a popularly accepted opinion, it was something that the Father in Heaven personally revealed to him. This is the gift of faith.Peter's personal profession of faith became the rock foundation on which Jesus built His Church. “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.” This reveals Jesus' plan to establish Peter as the head of the Church and to give to him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven for the whole Church. Similarly, our personal profession of faith will become the unshakable foundation within our souls upon which God's Church becomes alive in each one of us. When our faith is based upon a personal revelation from the Father in Heaven, spoken within the secrecy of our souls, then nothing can extinguish this faith. The gates of the netherworld cannot prevail against it.Reflect, today, upon this holy conversation between Jesus and His disciples. As you do, know that Jesus wants to have the same conversation with you. As Jesus took the disciples away to this quiet and safe place, He wants to take you away through prayer to the privacy of your own soul. There, within you, He seeks to elicit a response of personal faith. He wants you to identify Who He is to you. He wants you to profess your faith to Him. This faith is your personal solid foundation, and upon that foundation our Lord will build up His Church in you and through you.Glorious Lord, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I believe this with all my heart. Please continue to deepen my faith in You by revealing to me Who You are. As You do, I pray that this gift of faith will become a rock foundation upon which You form me more fully in the life of holy virtue and grace. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time - Humility...the Path to Greatness

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 25, 2023 7:19

    “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11–12If you were to plan out the ideal future for yourself, what would it look like? Imagine if you were not constrained by budget or resources. Imagine if you could pick to do anything you wanted, to go anywhere you wanted, and enjoy any activity that you wanted. Imagine the greatest experience you could possibly have. What would that be? Most people would immediately think about indulging in the greatest pleasures imaginable. A life of the most luxurious accommodations, the best food, the most beautiful scenery and the most relaxing and enjoyable time possible. But would that truly be the “ideal future for yourself?”The Gospel passage above is very clear. Greatness is found in servanthood. Exaltation is enjoyed only through humility. Is the ideal lifestyle one that is filled with indulgence, entertainment, luxury, and the like? Certainly not. The ideal life, the greatest life, the most exalted life is the life of the most humble service of others as possible. That's essentially what Jesus tells us in this passage. Do you believe that?Note that Jesus uses the words “greatest” and “must” in the same sentence. These two words are both quite definitive. There is no one greater than the “greatest,” and the path to that greatness requires, without exception, that the greatest be a servant of everyone else. In many ways, this truth defies most human conceptions of greatness. Most often, if someone is considered “great,” then they are served and treated with an honor and respect not given to most. For example, if you had someone of great importance over to your home for dinner, you would most likely wait on them. Of course, service in this context is much more than waiting on tables or providing a meal. Though that is a blessed way to serve others and to express love, Jesus' concept of service goes far beyond this. How do we serve as one who is truly great? We do so especially by humbling ourselves. Humility is the greatest form of service we can render another.Jesus was, without question, the humblest person to ever live. Only His mother shared perfectly in this holy virtue. Humility enables a person to break out of every selfish tendency and turn their love to the good of the other. Jesus did this first by becoming Incarnate in the womb of His dear mother. The Eternal Son of God did not become man because it somehow benefited Him in a self-centered way. He did it because He loved us and His Incarnation benefited us. The Son of God did not allow others to mock Him, ridicule Him and ultimately murder Him because it somehow benefitted Him. He did it so that He could enter death and destroy it so that we could rise with Him. He did it for us. And we could go through every passage of the Gospels and see that everything Jesus did was done for others and never done out of a selfish desire. This self-giving service our Lord offered every day was a fruit of the incredible humility that He lived. Jesus did everything He did out of His love for others and with humility so as to bring salvation and transformation to their eternal souls.In our lives, we need to make a fundamental choice. Am I going to live for myself? Or am I going to live for others? It seems as though very few people live fully for others. It is difficult to take our eyes off ourselves and turn them only to the good of others. But if we realize that living for others is also the path to our own greatness and ultimate exaltation, then it becomes much easier. Serving others, especially in a spiritual way by which you do all you can to help them grow closer to God, is what will make you great. Nothing else can do so. Believe that and live it.Reflect, today, upon a life of true greatness. Reflect, especially, upon how you can live such a life. How can you more completely serve others? How can you make their holiness your primary goal? How can you help others grow in their love of God? Humble yourself and turn your eyes from yourself to others. Doing so will make an eternal difference for others and also for yourself. My exalted Lord, You are exalted far above all others. You are Greatness Itself. The life You lived, dear Lord, was one of the greatest humility. But it was in this humility that You accomplished the salvation of the world. Help me to imitate Your greatness by making the service of others my most central mission in life. I love you, my Lord. May I love and serve others with You. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time - Loving in Difficult Situations

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2023 6:53

    “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37–39We are very familiar with this passage above. It is Jesus' answer to the Pharisees who came to test Jesus. Prior to this, a group of Sadducees tried to trap Jesus and failed. So now it was the Pharisees who gave it their best shot to trap our Lord. Of course, Jesus' answer was perfect. And upon the conclusion of this answer, Jesus returned the favor by asking the Pharisees some questions that they could not answer, and they dared not ask Him any further questions at that time.Sometimes, being challenged by another in matters of faith helps us, in that it allows us to clarify what we actually believe. Though Jesus did not need clarity for His own sake, He did offer this clarity in the face of trickery so as to help both the Pharisees as well as His followers who were listening attentively.Have you ever been challenged by another about matters of faith? If so, what was your response? Were you able to respond by the inspiration and clarity given by the Holy Spirit? Or did you walk away confused and unable to respond? Having our faith challenged by another will either result in our own confusion or in our deeper understanding.By answering this question in the way that Jesus did, He presented the entire Law given by Moses in the Ten Commandments in a new and summarized way. The first three of the Ten Commandments have to do with love of God, and the last seven have to do with love of neighbor. The second commandment Jesus gives, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” is a consequence of the first commandment. How do you “love yourself?” You do so by fulfilling the first commandment Jesus gave: “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” When God is loved above all, then loving your neighbor simply means that you love God Who dwells within your neighbor in accord with the way God loves them.It is also helpful to note that it is possible to “love” our neighbor in such a way that is contrary to the love of God. For example, if our love of neighbor is expressed in such a way that is contrary to the Love of God, then this is not true love. Let's say that your neighbor has chosen a gravely immoral lifestyle. How do you love them with the love of God? You don't say to them “I support you in your immoral living.” Doing so is not love of God; it's a selfish form of love that cares more about how the person will respond back to you than caring for their eternal soul. The right form of love for one who has gone astray in an objectively immoral way is to let them know you love them but do not support the choices they are making. And though they may respond negatively to this, caring for their eternal salvation must supersede every desire to simply get along with them.Love of neighbor, at times, especially when the “neighbor” is a family member who has turned from God, can be challenging. But when it is, think about the way that the Sadducees and Pharisees tried to constantly trap Jesus. He always gave the perfect response of love and never allowed their misguided conversation to leave confusion. So with us, we must rely upon the wisdom and love of God when loving another is difficult. God must guide our every conversation in that case so that the other knows they are loved and so that our love does not deviate from the pure love of God.Reflect, today, upon the high calling you have been given to love God above all and to love your neighbor with that same love that you have for God. If you find loving someone is difficult, pray for the wisdom you need to remain faithful to them in God's love alone. And if you find your love challenged, rely upon our Lord to lead you and to give you the words you need when you need them the most.My loving Lord, You love all people with a perfect love, and You call us all to love You with our whole heart, soul and mind. And You call us to love others with the love You have for them. Fill my heart with love of You and all people, especially those who are most difficult to love. Give me wisdom, dear Lord, to know how to love others in You so that they will experience Your perfect love in their lives. Jesus, I trust in You!Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    August 24, Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle - The Faith of Bartholomew

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 23, 2023 5:52

    Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45–46Nathanael, who also goes by the name Bartholomew, reacted strongly to the news from his friend Philip that they had found the promised Messiah. Why did Nathanael react this way? Most likely because it was common knowledge among the Jews that the promised Messiah would come from Bethlehem, not from Nazareth. So Nathanael immediately raises this doubt because of Jesus' supposed origin. Of course, Jesus actually was born in Bethlehem and only later moved to Nazareth, but Nathanael did not immediately realize this.The first lesson to ponder today is that, just like Nathanael, we can easily doubt matters of faith because we do not fully understand. Perhaps if Philip had come and said that Jesus was born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth, then Nathanael may have been more immediately open. But this encounter most likely unfolded as it did, with Nathanael's initial doubt, because the Holy Spirit, Who inspired these Scriptures, wanted us to learn an important lesson. The lesson we must learn is that we must not close the door on the Truth just because something doesn't immediately make sense to us. Doubts are never from God. The good news in this Gospel passage is that, even though Nathanael did immediately express a certain doubt, he remained open to what Philip was saying. Philip, in answer to this doubt, said the best thing he could have said. He said, “Come and see.”What is it in your life that seems confusing to you in regard to your life or in regard to the many truths of our faith? If there is something that you struggle with in this way, then listen to the words of Philip and allow them to be spoken to you: “Come and see.”Once Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, Nathanael quickly professed his full faith in Jesus as the “Son of God” and the “King of Israel.” Jesus said very little to Nathanael to convince him of these truths. Jesus simply told Nathanael that he had seen him sitting under the fig tree and that He knew that Nathanael was a man without guile. To be without guile means that you are not two-faced; rather, you are a very honest and straightforward person. Nathanael's immediate realization of the greatness of Jesus could have only come by the gift of grace working in his soul. He came to see Jesus and believed through the interior gift of faith.The lesson of Nathanael tells us that if we bring our confusion to our Lord in faith and openness, all will be made clear. We will have our temptations to doubt removed, and we will be able to have faith that goes far beyond human reason alone.Reflect, today, upon the genuineness and openness of the heart of Nathanael. Bring to our Lord any and every question you have with the expectation that you will receive what you need. Faith does not usually come through convincing arguments or detailed deductive reasoning. It normally comes through a pure and simple openness to the Voice of God speaking within our soul. But when the gift of faith is given, it brings with it a holy certainty that cannot be doubted.My loving Lord, You invite all of us to come to You, to see You and to have faith in You. You truly are the Son of God and the King of all. Please open my mind to all that You wish to say to me so that I may shed my doubts and come to a transforming faith in all things. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time - Overcoming Envy

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 22, 2023 6:47

    Going out about five o'clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, “Why do you stand here idle all day?” They answered, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You too go into my vineyard.” Matthew 20:6–7These are very generous words spoken by the landowner. As the parable explains, this landowner hired workers for his vineyard early in the morning, and then again at nine o'clock, noon, three o'clock and finally at five o'clock. But at the end of the day, he paid them all the same daily wage as if they had all been working since early morning. The ones hired first were upset thinking it was unfair that those who worked just an hour were paid the same wage as they were. But the landowner concludes, “What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?” God, in His mercy, is generous beyond comprehension. But we, as fallen humans, are constantly examining whether we are getting our fair share and comparing ourselves to others. We tend to want more and more and easily become envious when we see others succeed or receive blessings that we do not have. For example, if someone is more popular than us on social media, or drives a nicer car, or has a bigger home, or goes on an expensive vacation, we often tend to notice with a sort of sorrow that we do not have what they do. And that is envy.The cure for envy is wholehearted generosity. Not just generosity with our money but generosity with our affections and our ability to rejoice in the blessings that others receive. For example, if someone were to tell you that they were going on a nice vacation next month to a place you always wanted to go, how would you react? You might jokingly say, “Wow, I'm jealous!” Jealousy can quickly turn into envy, which is a form of sorrow over the blessings another has that you do not. And that sorrow over the blessings of another can subsequently turn to anger.These workers in the vineyard who worked all day and received the same amount as those who worked only one hour could have responded by congratulating the later workers and could have even jokingly said, “Lucky you, I wish I would have shown up at five o'clock!” But instead, they grumbled and tried to interfere with the generosity of the landowner saying, “These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.” Again, this is envy, in that their sorrow over the generosity of the landowner led them to try to interfere with the blessing the others received.Whenever you notice this form of unholy sorrow within you, take notice. It means that you lack a selfless generosity toward others. And if you see God blessing another in spiritual riches, try to generously rejoice in that. Offer praise and thanks to God for His goodness. Don't dwell on yourself and dismiss every temptation to compare. In many ways, everyone of us is represented by those who worked only one hour and received the full daily wage. This is because we could never earn the grace of salvation. The one and only reason we are able to receive the gift of eternal salvation and every other grace given to us by God is because God is infinitely generous. Therefore, the goodness and generosity of God must be our constant focus, and we must rejoice in that generosity when it is given to us and when it is also given to others.Reflect, today, upon any tendency you have toward envy. Think about the blessings that others have been given that you have not. Sincerely look at your interior reaction to that and pray that God will grant you the gift of being able to be generous in your rejoicing in those blessings. Every blessing given by God must be the cause of our joy, no matter if those blessings are bestowed upon us or upon others.My most generous Lord, You bestow Your blessings upon all in superabundance. When I witness the ways that others are blessed by You, help me to foster a sincere gratitude for all that they have received. Help me truly rejoice in the many ways You bless all Your people. Free me from envy, dear Lord, so that I am not burdened down by that ugly sin. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time - The Eye of a Needle

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 21, 2023 6:16

    Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:24–26According to one tradition, the “eye of the needle” referred to a gate in the wall of Jerusalem. During the day, there was a large gate that was open through which a camel could easily pass. But at night, the larger gate was closed and there was a smaller opening in the center of the gate that allowed people to pass through. A camel, however, could not pass through that smaller opening unless it got down on its knees, had its load removed from its back, and then crawled through. In referencing this story, Saint Anselm states that “the rich should not be able to pass along the narrow way that leads to life, till he had put off the burden of sin, and of riches, that is, by ceasing to love them” (Catena Aurea). So is it possible for a camel to enter through the “eye of the needle” and, therefore, a rich man to enter into Heaven? Yes. But only under the condition of being on their knees, humbling themselves, and ridding themselves of the “baggage” of their riches.For those who are truly rich in the things of this world, this Gospel passage may be difficult to read and reflect upon. It was spoken in reference to the rich young man who asked Jesus how he can enter into eternal life. Jesus' answer was “go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” At that, the rich young man went away sad because he was clearly attached to his wealth.Jesus' explanation above, however, should give hope to anyone who struggles with this high expectation. The disciples were truly troubled by what Jesus said, and that is why Jesus followed up by saying, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” For God all things are possible! This statement of fact should be carefully pondered and believed by anyone who struggles with being overly attached to material riches. It should also be noted that one can be attached to riches even if they do not have riches. The desire for more is the attachment that needs to be cleansed, not the actual possession of riches. In fact, it is possible to have many possessions and not be attached to them at all. This is the beauty of poverty of spirit. But be careful not to presume that you have perfected this beatitude too quickly. Jesus' statement above was said out of love for those who are overly attached to the things of this world. So if this is you, be merciful to yourself and pay close attention to Jesus' words and your own interior struggle with this.Reflect, today, upon this clear and unambiguous statement of Jesus. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” Do you believe this? Can you accept this? Is Jesus speaking to you through this passage? Again, even if you are materially poor, is your desire for riches strong? If so, this passage equally applies to you. Allow this passage to sit within your heart in a prayerful way and try to be as honest as you can with yourself as you read it. Do not hesitate to choose the true riches of Heaven over the passing things of this world. In the end, the value of spiritual wealth infinitely outweighs anything you possess for your short time here on earth. Lord of true riches, You desire that each of us be filled with spiritual wealth that is infinitely greater than anything we could obtain in this world. Please free me from my attachment to material wealth so that I can live free from that burden. Help me to see the value of the treasures of Your grace and mercy and to make this true wealth the single focus of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time - Perfection

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 20, 2023 6:57

    “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:21–22This is the conclusion to the conversation that Jesus had with a rich young man who came to Him and asked, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus went on to tell him to keep the commandments. The young man said he has done so from his youth and wanted to know what else he could do. So Jesus answered his question. But the answer was more than the young man could accept.“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Do you want to be perfect? If so, then Jesus has set a high bar for such a goal. It seems that many followers of Christ are okay with simply being okay. In other words, it seems that it is rare to find a person who is wholeheartedly committed to perfection. Many may have good intentions, but it seems that there are few who fully commit themselves to all it takes to truly obtain the perfection to which we are all called. It's interesting to note that Jesus' initial response to this rich young man explained the requirements for entering eternal life, that is, the minimal requirement for obtaining Heaven. Simply put, Jesus said that if you refrain from serious sin by keeping the commandments, then you will inherit eternal life. Of course, that also presumes that you have the gift of faith and are thus open to the gift of salvation. So is that what you are content with? Are you satisfied with doing the minimum it takes to get to Heaven?The idea of perfection can appear to be beyond us. Too often we can think, “I'm only human.” But as a human who is called by God, we are invited to work toward the obtainable goal of greater holiness. Though we will always fall short, we must strive to become as holy as we can, holding nothing back.Though the invitation given to this young man to “go, sell what you have and give to the poor” is not a requirement that our Lord places on everyone, He does call some to do this literally. But for everyone else, the invitation still remains—but in a spiritual sense rather than a literal sense. This is the spiritual call to interior poverty of spirit. Everyone of us is called to be interiorly detached from the things of this world in a complete way, even though we retain our possessions. We must have as our single possession the love of God and the service of His will. This depth of spiritual detachment means that God and His holy will is all we desire in life. And if He ever were to call us to literally give everything up, we would do it without hesitation. And though that may seem extreme, it is, in fact, exactly what will benefit us the most. It is the only way to become fully human and fully the person we were meant to be. And the end reward is not only the attainment of Heaven but an incomprehensible amount of glory in Heaven. The holier we become here on earth, the greater will our eternal reward be in Heaven. Do not hesitate to do all you can to build up that treasure that will be with you forever.Reflect, today, upon the high calling to perfection given to you by God. Ask yourself in a very sincere way whether or not you are simply okay with being okay or if you want so much more. Do you want the greatest riches in Heaven? Do you want your eternity to be one in which the spiritual treasures you build up now are with you forever? Do not hesitate to accept this high calling from Jesus. Allow His invitation to this rich young man to echo within your heart as His personal invitation to you, also. Say “Yes” to Him and know that you will be eternally grateful you did.My loving Lord, You invited the rich young man to strive for perfection. You also invite me and all Your children to this holy and high calling. Give me the grace I need to detach from all that hinders this goal so that I can make You and Your holy will the central and only goal of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) - Begging for Scraps of Mercy

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 19, 2023 5:42

    At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” Matthew 15:21–22After Jesus was harshly challenged by the Pharisees, He and His disciples took a 35-mile journey to the northwest to a region that was in pagan territory and outside of the jurisdiction of Herod and the Jewish leaders. It might have been a time of repose for Him and His disciples and an opportunity for Jesus to form the disciples more directly. It was during this retreat that a pagan woman came to ask Jesus for help.As the story unfolds, we see that her prayer is a model for us all. First, she acknowledges Who Jesus is—the Son of David. This is a manifestation of her faith and a clear contrast to the lack of faith Jesus had experienced with many of the people in Galilee. Second, her request is expressed in straightforward and simple language, “Have pity on me!” And, “Lord, help me.” Third, her prayer is persistent. Jesus allows her to manifest her persistence by first being silent to her request and then telling her “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Jesus obviously does not say this to be rude, but to invite her to manifest her faith in a persistent way. And that she does. Finally, her prayer is one of deep humility. She responds, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” She was begging for the “scraps” of Jesus' mercy, and she received His mercy in abundance.Do you desire the scraps of Jesus' mercy in the way a dog desires the scraps from the table of its owner? Hopefully you do. This is the disposition that we must all have in prayer. Sometimes, out of pride, we can think that we have a right to God's mercy. We can think that God owes us. And though we might realize that mercy is not deserved, we must allow that truth to sink in deeply. That is why this story is so important. It presents us with the ideal way to pray and the humble interior disposition we must have when approaching God.Prayerfully sit with the image of a dog begging for scraps from the table. When a dog is given what is left over, it is thrilled. To us, eating the scraps from another's plate is undesirable. But if the “plate” belongs to the Savior of the World and the “food” is His grace and mercy, then that changes everything. In the end, the Master also invites us to the table and feeds us with the finest of spiritual food. But that doesn't change the fact that we must always have the humble disposition exemplified by this humble woman.Reflect, today, upon this holy woman. In the end, Jesus cried out, “O woman, great is your faith!” But that did not come until she wholeheartedly expressed her faith with humility and persistence. With her as a shining example, reflect upon how you pray to God. Do you pray with self-righteousness, as if you deserve God's mercy? Do you tend to see God as one Who owes you something? Do you get angry with God when He doesn't immediately answer your demands? Try to humble yourself like this woman. Beg for whatever God wants to give to you. Do so with perseverance and the utmost trust. If you do, our Lord will not only pour forth the scraps of His mercy, He will also pick you up and invite you to the glorious meal of His abundant grace.Most merciful Jesus, I beg of You that I be given only the scraps from the table of Your mercy. I beg this of You with all my heart. Though I do not deserve You, I seek You anyway. You know what I need, dear Lord; please bestow upon me Your mercy for those needs. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - All Are Welcome

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 18, 2023 6:28

    Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them…” Matthew 19:13–14In the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which was promulgated by Pope Saint Pius V, this passage is linked with infant baptism. It states, “Besides, it is not to be supposed that Christ the Lord would have withheld the Sacrament and grace of Baptism from children, of whom He said: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me…” (II, 2, 32).This teaching clearly indicates one of the best ways that this passage is fulfilled today. Inviting even infants before they reach the age of reason to receive the Sacrament of Baptism fulfills this loving command of Jesus to “Let the children come to me…”Young children do not have the ability to rationally understand love in its purest form. That comes with the age of reason, which has traditionally been understood to be around the age of seven. But children, and even infants, are capable of receiving our love and are capable of receiving the love of God, even if they do not yet fully comprehend this gift.As a child grows, they learn what love means as they witness it and experience it, especially through the mediation of their parents. This helps form their consciences in such a way that they become capable of making their own free choice to love as they mature in age. But if a child is to grow into a loving adult, they need more than just a good example, they need grace. The grace of Baptism is the primary source of that grace in their lives.It's easy for many to see Baptism only as a nice ceremony to welcome the newly born child into God's family. And though that is true, it is so much more. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Baptism bestows an indelible mark which “remains for ever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church” (CCC #1121). In other words, Baptism bestows upon one's soul a gift that can never be removed and becomes an ongoing source of grace. And when an infant is baptized, it's as if this Scripture passage above is perpetuated throughout that person's life. Because of this sacramental grace, Jesus continually says to this baptized soul, “Come to Me.”In addition to the grace of Baptism, we must all imitate Jesus' action of welcome and acceptance of not only children but of every child of God. Though the disciples initially tried to prevent the children from coming to our Lord, we must not. We must understand that there is a real temptation within our fallen human nature to both withhold the love of God from others and to even prevent others from coming to God. Anger, pride, envy, jealousy and the like can cause us to object to the conversion of others and to God welcoming them to Himself. When that temptation sets in, we must hear Jesus say to us, “Let the children come to me” and “do not prevent them.”Reflect, today, upon these gentle and inviting words of Jesus. As you do, try to call to mind anyone who you might try to prevent from coming to our Lord. Do you desire the holiness of all people? Is there anyone in your life whom you find it difficult to encourage to come to Jesus to be embraced and blessed? Take on the heart of Jesus and see it as your duty to embrace others as He embraced these children. The more you become an instrument of the love of Christ, the more you will daily rejoice in God's blessings as they are bestowed on others.My tender Lord, You welcome all people to share in Your grace. You welcome every child and every child of God to share in Your loving embrace. Please extend that welcome to me and help me to accept this gift of Your infinite love. And help me to become a better instrument of Your love toward others, never interfering or preventing them from turning to You. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - The Love for Holy Living

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2023 6:11

    He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted.” Matthew 19:11This was Jesus' response to a lengthy discussion about the indissolubility of marriage. One of the reasons that “Not all can accept this word…” is because marriage, and every other vocation, requires wholehearted sacrifice and selflessness. When this is not present, and when the selfless living that is required of us turns to selfishness, then every conflict becomes a heavy burden. A burden that is unbearable without grace.What is love? What form of love is required in marriage and every other vocation? What love is required of parents and grandparents? The answer is the same to all of these questions. We must love with complete selflessness and in a sacrificial way. Love, in its truest form, always looks to the good of the other and never focuses upon oneself.Only grace can enable us to live a life based on true love. Our fallen human nature tends to “navel gaze,” meaning, we tend to go through life thinking about ourselves—“What will make my life better? How will this affect me? This person has hurt me. I don't want to do this or that, etc.” It is very difficult in life to turn our eyes from ourselves to the love of others. This is why Jesus said that this form of love can only be embraced by “those to whom that is granted.” And those to whom this depth of love is granted are those who are open to God's transforming grace in their lives.One reason that it is very difficult to love in a completely selfless way is because it requires us to live by grace. Our feeble human minds cannot arrive at the high calling of charity by itself. It is only by grace that we will understand that selfless living is not only best for those whom we are called to love, but it is also best for us. And in the context of married life, parenting, other vocations and every other situation in life, if our love is always focused upon the good of the other, and if our lives imitate the total sacrifice of Christ, then we will see God do great things through us. As He does, we will also see God do great things in us. The bottom line is that we only become who we were made to be when we live like Christ. And He lived a life that was unconditionally sacrificial and selfless.Reflect, today, upon the high calling of love that you have been given. Can you accept this teaching of our Lord? Has an understanding of the nature of true love been granted to you by grace? And if so, are you doing all you can to live a life of selfless sacrificial love in union with Christ Jesus? As you examine your life and your relationships, especially with those closest to you, consider how well you act as Christ to them. Consider whether you forgive, turn the other cheek, seek mercy, compassion, understanding, gentleness and every other virtue and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Where you are lacking and find selfishness, do not hesitate to beg our Lord to grant you the grace to not only understand your high calling of love, but to also embrace it in your actions to the fullest degree. Then, and only then, will you be able to live the vocation to which you have been called.My loving Lord, Your love is beyond all comprehension. It is a love that can only be understood by the gift of Your grace. Please do grant me the grace I need to not only understand and to receive Your love in my life but to also offer Your love to all. May my life become an ongoing instrument of the perfection of love that You lived. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Always and Forever Forgiving

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 16, 2023 6:46

    Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21–22Saint John Chrysostom, in commenting upon this passage, explains that “seventy-seven times” was a way of saying “always.” In other words, Jesus was not giving a specific number to the times we must forgive, He was saying that forgiveness must be offered forever and always, without limit. This is the depth of forgiveness offered to us.This passage also shows the contrast between the human tendency towards forgiveness and God's. Peter, no doubt, must have thought that he was being generous by asking if he should forgive his brother as many as seven times. Perhaps he thought Jesus would be impressed by this apparently generous suggestion. But the infinite mercy of God can never be outdone. There is simply no limit to the mercy of God, and, therefore, there must be no limit to the mercy we offer others.What is your personal practice when it comes to seeking the forgiveness of God in your life? And what is your practice in regard to offering forgiveness to another? This line quoted above introduces the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. In that parable, the servant owed his king a “huge amount.” In mercy, the king forgave the debt just as God is willing to forgive us no matter what. But forgiveness does have one price. The price is that we must also forgive others to the same extent. Thus, when the servant who was forgiven a huge amount later sees one of his servants who owed him a much smaller amount, he demands the debt be paid in full. The result is that the king hears of this and withdraws his mercy, requiring the servant to pay him back in full.This tells us that forgiveness is not an option unless we are perfect and owe no debt to God. Of course, if anyone thinks that, then they are not living in reality. As we read in the letter to the Romans, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As a result, it is essential that we offer forgiveness always and everywhere, without condition, without limit and without hesitation. How easily do you do this? How fully do you forgive?One of the hardest persons to forgive is the one who has no sorrow for their sin. When this happens, it is easy to justify our condemnation of them. One thing that might be helpful to reflect upon if you are currently withholding forgiveness from another and remain angry, bitter or hurt, is that your lack of forgiveness does more damage to your own soul than to theirs. By refusing to forgive, you do immeasurable damage to your soul and to your relationship with God. Remaining angry and hurt only leads to more anger and hurt. It leads to vengeful thinking and even acting. And that is a sin for which you will be held accountable.Reflect, today, upon the infinite depth of mercy and forgiveness you are called to offer to each and every person who has or will hurt you. To forgive is certainly not to excuse. On the contrary, the act of forgiveness acknowledges the sin. But mercy must be offered no matter what. Always, everywhere, unending and without any conditions, it must be offered. If this is difficult to do, do it anyway and do not stop. Doing so will not only help the sinner, it will also open the gates of mercy from God in your life. My forgiving Lord, Your mercy is infinite and unfathomable. You desire to forgive every sin in my life and to restore me completely to a life of perfect union with You. I accept this gift of forgiveness in my life, dear Lord, and I freely choose to offer this same depth of mercy to everyone who ever has or ever will sin against me. I forgive as completely as I can. Please help me to imitate Your unending mercy. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Praying Together with the Son

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 15, 2023 7:01

    “Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19–20This is a bold and awe-inspiring promise from our Lord. This passage reveals Jesus' desire that we pray with others, uniting our prayer as one and offering it to the Father. Jesus says that when we do this in union with His prayer, our prayer will be answered. The first thing to note is that this passage could easily be misunderstood. For example, is Jesus telling us that if two or more people get together and pray that it rains, then it will happen? Certainly not. The key to understanding this passage is found in the last line: “...there am I in the midst of them.” This means that the goal of gathering together with two or more people in prayer is to unite our unified prayer to the prayer of Jesus. The Father always hears and answers the prayer of the Son. No matter what the Son asks the Father, it is granted. Thus, this passage tells us that the goal of gathering together in prayer with others, that is, with the Church, is to unite ourselves with the one and eternal prayer of God the Son. This is first and foremost fulfilled within the Sacred Liturgy.When we come together in the Liturgy, our prayer is always heard. Why? Because the Liturgy is first an action of God the Son in which He invites us, the Church, to share. And the prayer that is offered is the one and eternal prayer by which God the Son asks the Father to bring salvation to all those who accept the saving action of His sacrifice on the Cross. When we join in this prayer, it is granted.What type of prayer is not answered? First, God does not grant that which fails to serve His mission. Second, if we pray for God's will but fail to do our part, then our prayer cannot be answered. For example, if you pray that you overcome a particular sin but then fail to respond to the grace God gives, then this is not the fault of God. Third, praying for vengeance on those who have hurt us is ineffective. And fourth, praying for the conversion of one who refuses to repent will also be unable to be fulfilled, unless they ultimately repent. These are but a few examples.What type of prayer is effective? As already mentioned, the prayer of the Liturgy as the one Sacrifice of Christ is always heard when we participate in it. But there are other ways that our united prayer will be fulfilled with certainty. For example, if you gather with others and together pray for the grace of deeper conversion, you can be certain that the grace will be offered. It is then up to you to open your heart to that grace so that it is effective. Or if you pray that God offers His mercy to someone caught in sin, you can be certain that that grace will be offered, even if the person refuses to accept it. And the list could go on. Simply put, if we gather with others and seek to unite our prayer to the one and perfect prayer of God the Son as it is offered to the Father in Heaven, then that prayer of the Son in which we share will be answered. Perhaps the best way to pray together in this way is to pray the “Our Father” prayer with another. This prayer is always heard and answered by the Father since it is the prayer given to us by the Son. Reflect, today, upon God the Son praying to the Father. What is His perfect prayer? What does He ask the Father? Look for ways in which you can join with others to unite your own prayer to this prayer of the Son of God. Do this first and foremost in the Sacred Liturgy, but look for other ways in which you can practice this form of prayer. Praying together with others in union with the one prayer of Jesus will always be answered by the Father in Heaven. My perfect Lord, all that You ask of the Father is granted to You. Please draw me and all the members of Your Church into Your perfect prayer to the Father. May we participate in this prayer especially through the Sacred Liturgy, and also as we gather as two or more. May we pray only with You and in accord with Your perfect will. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    August 15, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - The Assumption of the Mother of God

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 14, 2023 5:23

    “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.” Luke 1:46–49Today we celebrate one of seventeen different memorials, feasts and solemnities in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary that are found on the Roman Liturgical Calendar. Today's celebration is one of the four great Solemnities by which our Blessed Mother is honored. Obviously, no other person other than our Lord is honored and celebrated with as much solemnity as the Mother of God.The Solemnity of the Assumption honors the fact that when the Blessed Virgin Mary completed her life on earth, she was taken body and soul into Heaven to be with her resurrected Son so as to adore the Most Holy Trinity forever. It's an amazing fact to consider that she retains her body and soul, united as one in Heaven, in anticipation of that glorious day when the new Heavens and Earth will be created and when all the faithful will rise so as to live in a new bodily form forever with God.Though this dogma of our faith had been held and believed by the faithful from the earliest times of our Church, especially since it was witnessed by those closest to our Blessed Mother at the time of her glorious Assumption, it wasn't until November 1, 1950, that Pope Pius XII solemnly proclaimed it to be so, raising this teaching of our faith to the level of a dogma, meaning, it must be held and believed by all. In part, the Holy Father declared, “...we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”The Gospel passage quoted above comes from the beginning of Mary's song of praise, her Magnificat, by which she not only gives the greatest glory to God but also reveals who she is. She is the one whom “all generations” will call “blessed.” She is the one for whom “the Almighty has done great things.” She is the one who will eternally proclaim “the greatness of the Lord” and whose spirit will forever rejoice in God her Savior. And she is that lowliest of servants whom God has raised up to the greatest glory.Reflect, today, with the whole Church, upon the Most Glorious Ever-Virgin Mary who was conceived without sin, remained sinless throughout her life, and was taken body and soul into Heaven where she now adores the Most Holy Trinity and intercedes for you and for the whole Church. This is a Solemnity of great rejoicing! Share in this joy with the whole Church and with all the saints in Heaven!Most glorious and Ever-Virgin Mary, I rejoice today with you and with the whole Church for the most glorious things that God has done for you. You are beauty beyond beauty, Immaculate in every way, and worthy of our deepest love. As you now share body and soul in the glories of Heaven, please pray for me and for all your dear children on earth. Cover us with your mantle of love and pour forth the mercy of God upon us always. Mother Mary, assumed into Heaven, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Miracles of Hope

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 13, 2023 6:00

    From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.” Matthew 17:25–27Prior to this minor miracle, Jesus had just told His disciples for the second time about His coming passion. Again, this was difficult for them to hear. Recall that after the first prediction of Jesus' coming passion and death, Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain and was Transfigured before them. The Transfiguration was meant, in part, to dispel the fear of the disciples and to give them hope for that which was to come. And now, after Jesus' second prediction of His passion, another miracle was performed for Peter, personally, to help encourage him and give him hope.Imagine if you were Peter. Imagine following through with Jesus' instructions by going to the sea, dropping in a hook, pulling out a fish and then opening its mouth. Peter must have been filled with hope and excitement as he pulled this fish in, wondering if Jesus' words would come true. And as soon as Peter saw the coin, just as Jesus said, he must have been in awe. Slowly, the fear and anxiety he was experiencing at this second prediction of Jesus' passion and death would have begun to subside as Peter witnessed yet another incredible sign from his Lord.God performs miracles in our lives every day. The problem is that we often fail to discern them. Any time His glorious power works within us to strengthen us or fills us with courage, hope, charity and every other virtue, this is a miracle of transforming grace. God always knows what we need in life. He knows our struggles and doubts. At times, He is silent so as to draw us deeper through intentional prayer and acts of faith. And at times, we suddenly find that we receive a new clarity in life that is the result of His grace at work.Jesus knew that Peter needed this extra grace of this personal miracle so that he could move beyond his fears and struggles and place all of his trust in Jesus. Jesus was trustworthy. This is the conclusion Peter would have arrived at. He was trustworthy. Therefore, everything He said should be believed. What a wonderful conclusion for us all to arrive at.Reflect, today, upon the ways that God has assured you of His divine presence and action in your life. Though the assuring miracles God has performed in your life may not be physical in their manifestation, God's workings can be just as convincing if we clearly perceive them. What does God want to assure you of in your life? What struggle or doubt do you struggle with? If you struggle, turn your mind to the ways that God has been present and active in your life. Ponder His intervention and the ways He has cared for you and led you. Be grateful and allow the memory of what God has done to be your strength today and the source of hope when you need it the most. My miraculous Lord, Your action in my life is truly glorious and amazing. You never fail to provide for me when I am in need. Help me to turn to You whenever I struggle so as to be filled with new hope in You. You are always faithful, dear Lord. I do place all my hope in You. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) - Overcoming the Impossible

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 12, 2023 6:13

    After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Matthew 14:22–23Our Gospel today presents us with two different images to ponder. The first one is recorded above, and the second one is the story of Jesus walking on the water. In the second story, the disciples were rowing against the wind and waves in the early morning before the sun rose. Jesus appeared to them walking on the water, and they were frightened. Jesus confronts the fear they experience and calls Peter to walk on the water as a sign of his faith in Him. Peter begins to walk on water, and then in fear, he begins to sink. He cries out to Jesus Who catches Him and then gently rebukes Peter for his lack of faith.It is helpful to understand the first image in this Gospel passage as the context for the second. In this first image, we see Jesus dismissing the crowds after feeding the five thousand and going up a mountain to pray all alone. Though Jesus was always in perfect union with the Father and, therefore, had no need for prayer, He prayed nonetheless because it was His human expression of the deep union He had with His Father. As He prayed, He also set forth an example to all who would follow Him, teaching them by His example about the importance of private prayer. The primary lesson He taught on this occasion was that prayer is the remote preparation we need so as to overcome all apparent obstacles in life and to confront fear with perfect faith.First, the obvious “obstacle” Jesus overcame through His prayer was symbolized by His walking on the stormy sea. No one walks on water. It's physically impossible. But that's the point. When we make our life of personal prayer a priority, God will lead us to accomplish that which appears to us to be impossible. It might not be walking on water literally, but His walking on water after spending the night in prayer is symbolic of every apparent impossibility we face in life. The lesson is that if God wills it, nothing is impossible. We will know that if we make personal prayer our first priority.A second obstacle that Jesus confronts is fear. Fear is paralyzing and results in us “sinking” when life becomes difficult. Again, personal prayer is the necessary preparation for overcoming fear. What's interesting is that we have two witnesses of prayer. First is Jesus' witness. He prayed because it was good and right to pray. The second is Peter. He prayed when he started to sink. He said, “Lord, save me!” This is the prayer of one who failed to have faith and prayed out of a present need rather than out of pure love of God. Too often, Peter exemplifies the prayer life that many Christians have. We often wait to pray until we need help and are sinking. But what if Peter had also spent the night in prayer simply out of love of God? What if he had just finished praying all night when he was invited to walk on water? Perhaps then he would have easily walked to Jesus and would not have given into fear.Reflect, today, upon making your life of prayer the number-one priority in your life. Maybe you have many responsibilities in life. Nothing is more important than praying—and not only when you feel trapped or feel like you are sinking. Instead, we must all establish an unbreakable habit of prayer to God for the singular reason that it is good and right to do so. The fruit of such a life of prayer is that no matter what obstacle comes our way, we will have the faith we need to follow every command of our Lord, overcoming even that which appears to be impossible.My prayerful Lord, You spent the night in prayer to Your Father not because You needed help, but because of Your love. Your prayer was an expression of that love and was a natural requirement of it. Please help me to also establish an unbreakable habit of prayer so that my love for You will remain strong and so that I can follow You through every apparent obstacle in life. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Saturday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Doing the Unimaginable

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 11, 2023 6:42

    Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19–20A man came up to Jesus, fell on his knees before Him and begged Jesus to cure his son who was possessed by a demon. The man explained that Jesus' disciples had tried to cast the demon out, but they could not do so. Jesus' initial response to the man was, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you?” But then Jesus had the boy brought to Him, and He cast the demon out.The line quoted above reveals the conversation that immediately followed between Jesus and His disciples who failed to cast out the demon. It was because of their lack of faith that they were not able to do so. It should be noted that Jesus reacts firmly with a rebuke to this lack of faith as a way of emphasizing the importance of having a more pure faith.Is it true that if you were to have “faith the size of a mustard seed” that you would be able to move a mountain? Yes, most certainly. But this statement must be carefully understood. First of all, we can only have “faith” in that which is in the mind and will of God. Faith is a response to that which God speaks to us. We listen, understand and believe. This is faith. Faith is not just believing in something so strongly that we try to will it to happen. Thus, if God truly wanted a mountain to be uprooted and moved, and He spoke this to you asking you to do it, then if you listened to His Voice and responded with complete trust, then it would happen. But, of course, the glory of God is not fulfilled by moving a literal mountain, so it is very unlikely that this would ever be done through the gift of faith.But Jesus speaks this to His disciples and to us to assure us that we must listen, understand and believe all that He says. In the case of the curing of the boy with the demon, it is clear that it was the will of God that the disciples cast the demon out. But they failed to believe and, therefore, were unable to bring forth God's will through their faith.As for moving mountains, this happens on a figurative and spiritual level all the time. Any time God works in our lives in a supernatural way, or any time God uses us to work in another's life in a supernatural way, much more than a “mountain” is moved. From an eternal perspective, what is more glorious and what gives God greater glory? To literally move a mountain? Or to be changed by grace and to be interiorly transformed by God so as to give Him eternal glory? And what is more impressive? To be able to defy the laws of physics in a way that comes and goes in an instant, or to be used to change someone's soul for eternity? Without question, being used by God to bring transformation to another's soul for eternity is of infinitely greater magnitude. Reflect, today, upon the importance of listening to the Voice of God and responding with complete obedience and love. This is faith. What “mountain” does God want to move in your life? What transformation does He want to perform? Listen to Him and believe with every fiber of your being. As you do, God will not only do unimaginable things in your life, but through you, He will do unimaginable things in the lives of others.My saving Lord, You have done incredible things in the lives of so many. You have transformed souls and recreated them in Your mercy. Please bestow upon me the gift of faith so that I will hear Your Voice and respond with the utmost generosity and belief. Use me, dear Lord, to also become an instrument of Your unimaginable grace in the lives of others. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Purifying Worldly Desires

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 10, 2023 6:15

    “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?” Matthew 16:26Would you like to “gain the whole world?” Many people daydream about becoming exceptionally rich and being able to purchase everything they ever wanted. Others dream of doing heroic acts that thrust them into the public spotlight and lead to public admiration. Still, others dream of having great power in this world and being a person of great importance. Though none of these are bad in and of themselves, the inordinate desire for them will damage your relationship with God. And when one of these desires becomes the dominant and all-consuming desire within, the result is that you forfeit your eternal soul.When we speak of the “world,” we can understand different things. First, this is a reference to all the material things of this world—for example, the best of food and drink, self-indulgence, fleshly pleasures, material wealth, and all that is temporary and passing in this life. Second, the “world” can refer to pride and desire for attention and praise. This is when we become consumed with concern about what others think and say about us. Third, the “world” can refer to the desire for power so as to insert our own will. At a very high level, this is often the cause of wars among countries. One leader has a desire for domination and control. This desire for power and control can also affect each person within any part of that person's life, including family, friends, work, social circles, etc.The common thread among all three of these examples of worldly desires is the deception that obtaining more of them will satisfy you. Though they may satisfy you in a temporal and passing way, these desires will also have the effect of destroying your soul. This is because we have to choose. Either we seek to satiate the spiritual yearning of our souls, or we will seek to satiate ourselves with the passing promises of the world. We cannot have both.It should be noted that obtaining wealth, being publicly praised, or being put in a position of power is not evil in and of itself. In fact, any one of these offers potential for good. The problem arises when a person seeks one of these worldly desires for selfish reasons and under the delusion that it will provide fulfillment. Truth be told, any one of those situations imposes a true cross on the person who is seeking to serve God alone. The responsibility that comes with wealth, prestige, or power is real. Therefore, when one or more of these are obtained, they must be handled with detachment and humility.For example, if one becomes quite wealthy, the precept to live spiritually detached from material things still remains. Thus, in this case, material wealth poses a certain burden in the form of temptation. While this temptation certainly can be overcome and wealth can be used for good, the danger is real and must be regularly acknowledged. Or, if you are praised by many for something you did, or if you are given much responsibility and authority over others, humility and detachment must also increase so that God and God alone remains the single object of your desire.Reflect, today, upon your desires. What do you want in life? Do you want to “gain the whole world?” Do you desire to gain even some of the worldly ambitions? If so, be careful. Reflect honestly upon your interior desires and work to purify them so that you desire God's will alone. Once that happens, it will not matter to you if you are rich or poor, publicly praised or criticized, entrusted with earthly power or not. All that will matter is that you use all for the glory of God, in accord with His perfect and fulfilling will.Most glorious God, Your will is perfect and is the one and only source of fulfillment in life. Please purify my soul of all desires pertaining only to this world. May my one and only desire in life be the fulfillment of Your holy will so that all I have will only be used for Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    August 10, Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr - The Loss of All and the Gain of More

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 9, 2023 6:56

    Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. John 12:25This is one of the many powerful and even shocking statements of Jesus. A similar statement by Jesus is found in all four of the Gospels. In this, John's version, the words “love” and “hate” are used. By loving our lives we lose them, but by hating our lives we preserve them. At first read, one may think that those words “love” and “hate” were accidentally reversed. One might conclude that what Jesus meant to say was, “Whoever hates his life loses it” and “whoever loves his life preserves it.” But that's not what He said. He did in fact say the opposite.It must be understood that the words “love” and “hate” here are not used in the way we normally use them. In this passage, Jesus is using the word “love” to refer to selfishness or self-centeredness. And He uses the word “hate” to refer to selflessness or sacrificial self-giving. In other words, whoever is selfish in life will lose everything in the end but the one who is truly selfless and self-giving in life will ultimately gain everything.This profound teaching of our Lord is difficult to comprehend without the gift of grace. Our human reason alone may struggle with the idea that selfless living is good. It is easy to rationally conclude that it is far better to elevate ourselves before everyone. The rational mind might conclude that happiness and the “good life” is found in obtaining riches, status, power and the respect of all. But this form of selfish self-centered living, though tempting on a purely human level, is actually the path to losing everything that is truly good. On the contrary, it is only when we allow God's grace to inform our human reason that we will arrive at the conclusion that being selfless rather than selfish is what's best. To be selfless means our eyes are always turned to the good of the other. It means we do not sit and dwell on ourselves. It means we are fully committed to the service of God and our neighbor no matter the cost to us. We must give everything away in the service and love of God and that is the only way by which God gives back to us more than we could ever hope for.Saint Lawrence, whom we honor today, was a deacon and martyr in the third century. This great saint literally gave up everything, including his very life, so as to say “Yes” to God. As a deacon in the Cathedral Church in Rome, he was entrusted with the task of distributing alms to the indigent people in need. In August of the year 258, the Emperor issued an edict stating that all clergy were to be put to death. After the pope was killed, they came for Lawrence and, before killing him, asked him to turn over all the riches of the Church. He asked for three days to gather those treasures, and, during those three days, he distributed all he could to the poor. Then, on the third day, he presented himself before the prefect and brought with him not the material wealth of the Church but the true wealth. He brought the poor, crippled, blind and suffering and declared that the Church was truly rich and that the people with him were the Church's true treasures. The prefect, in anger, sentenced Lawrence to death by fire, to which Lawrence freely submitted.Reflect, today, upon the high Christian calling you have been given to live a life that is completely selfless and self-giving in every way. If you find that you dwell on yourself most often, then try to change that habit. Turn your eyes to God and the service of others. Try to care more about the needs of those around you than your own concerns. Do so because this is what Jesus calls us to do, and, if He calls us to such a selfless life, then we must know and believe that it is worth it in the end.My sacrificial Lord, You gave Your precious life away to all out of love. The total self-giving of Your life resulted in the salvation of those who will accept this glorious gift. Help me to not only open myself to this freely given gift of Yours but to also imitate Your selfless life by giving myself in service of You and others. Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Perseverance in Humble Faith

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 8, 2023 6:53

    At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. Matthew 15:21–23The district of Tyre and Sidon was non-Jewish territory. The people there were said to have been descendants of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve who killed his brother, Abel, and was banished. He and his descendants settled in the area of Tyre and Sidon and were not heirs to the faith given through Abraham, Moses and the prophets, making them Gentiles. Jesus and His disciples traveled about 40 miles by foot to this district from Galilee to flee Herod and the Pharisees who were seeking to kill Him. While there, Jesus intended to keep a low profile, but word of His presence spread, and this Canaanite woman came to Him to beg that He heal her daughter.At first, it is surprising that Jesus remained silent. She came to Him with deep faith and trust, and He did not answer her at first. His disciples wanted her to stop bothering them, and Jesus Himself eventually responded to her stating that His mission during His public ministry was to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” meaning, to the Jews. Of course, later Jesus would expand His mission entrusted to the Apostles to include the Gentiles. But at first, Jesus' mission was to the descendants of Abraham.As we read this story today, it is clear that it was by God's providence that this woman came to Jesus as she did. The Father drew her to Him, and Jesus participated in this discourse, not to be rude or dismissive but to allow her to manifest a faith that was clearly lacking in the lives of many.In our lives, at times God seems silent. But if He is silent, we must know that it is for good reason. God never ignores us; rather, His silence is a way of drawing us even closer to Himself than if He were to be immediately “loud and clear,” so to speak. Silence from God is not necessarily a sign of His disfavor. It's often a sign of His purifying action drawing us to a much fuller manifestation of our faith.As for the Gentile woman, unlike many of the Jews, she manifested a faith in the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. This is evident by her calling Him “Son of David.” Her trust in Jesus' ability to heal her daughter was expressed in very simple and clear words. She didn't need to present herself as worthy of His help, because her trust in Him was all that was needed. Furthermore, she persevered in her prayer. First, Jesus is silent. Then, His disciples try to dismiss her. And then, Jesus gives the appearance of refusing her request. All of this results not in her discouragement but in perseverance and hope. And that hope was also extraordinarily humble. Jesus' goal of allowing her to deepen her faith and manifesting it for all to see was accomplished. Reflect, today, upon the qualities of this woman's prayer. Try to imitate her by first acknowledging the truth of Who Jesus is. He is the Messiah, the Son of David, the Savior of the World, God Incarnate and so much more. Calling Jesus' true identity to mind is a wonderful way to begin to pray. From there, make your prayer simple, clear and humble. Don't present your wants, present your needs. What do you need from the Savior of the World? Of course God knows what we need more than we do, but asking is an act of trust, so do so. Lastly, persevere. Do not get discouraged in prayer. Be fervent, relentless and unwavering. Humble yourself before the almighty power and mercy of God and do so without ceasing and God will always answer your prayer in accord with His holy will. My Saving Lord, You are truly the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of God. You and You alone deserve all honor, glory and praise. As I come to know You as You are, please fill me with a deep trust and unwavering faith in You. May I persevere through all things and never cease to put all my hope in You. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Come With Your Fears

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 7, 2023 5:24

    “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Matthew 14:27–29Peter and the other disciples were frightened. They were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, the wind was strong, and the waves were crashing. This scene took place “during the fourth watch of the night,” which meant the time was early in the morning, between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m., when it was still dark. Jesus had been alone on a mountain praying during that night and now came walking on the water toward the disciples. When they saw our Lord, they cried out, “It is a ghost!” But then Jesus spoke the words quoted above to them, calming them and calling them to courage and trust.Imagine yourself being with the disciples as Jesus approached. How would you react? Would you, too, be filled with fear? Perhaps it is best to answer that question from two perspectives. One is from the perspective of our fallen human nature. The other comes from the perspective of Truth. First, from the perspective of our fallen human nature, there are many things in this life that tempt us to fear. Therefore, this Gospel passage should be seen as a prophetic action of our Lord by which He tells you that He wants to come to you and meet you in your fears. What is it that gives you the most fear in your life right now? Oftentimes fear has to do with the future and the unknown. What if this or that were to happen? Fear ultimately results from a lack of faith in God and His protective care.The second perspective from which we might see this passage is that of the full Truth. The truth is that the disciples not only had no need to fear, they actually had every reason to rejoice and be at peace. While on that boat, in the middle of the sea, in the middle of the night, during strong winds, it was God Himself, the Great I AM, Who was coming to protect them, care for them, and lead them safely to shore. Jesus' “it is I” could actually be translated more literally “I AM” in reference to Jesus' divinity.The last word in the passage quoted above is what Jesus speaks to all of us when we fall into fear and worry. Jesus says, “Come.” This word is a command and is a word spoken to you. It's a good word to prayerfully meditate upon and hear spoken to you during every struggle and fear you endure.Reflect, today, upon this Gospel passage and try to insert yourself into it. See the waves, wind, and darkness as symbols of whatever it is that troubles you the most. As you do, close your eyes and see Jesus, the Great I AM, coming to you. Gaze at Him and hear Him tell you to trust Him. Hear Him say to you, “Come.” Peter initially trusted and began to walk on water when he came to Jesus, but he quickly allowed his fear to set in and took his eyes off Jesus. As soon as he did, he began to sink. Turn your eyes to Jesus, keep them firmly fixed on Him, ignore the temptations in life that lead you to fear, and trust in God. He commands you to do so out of love.My saving Lord, You are God, the Great I AM, the Creator, Ruler and King of all. You and You alone are worthy of all my trust, dear Lord. When I struggle in life and allow fear to overwhelm me, please call to me and give me the wisdom and courage I need to fix my eyes firmly upon You and to come to You without faltering. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time (Years B&C) - Giving What You Receive

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 6, 2023 5:04

    Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Matthew 14:19–20An important aspect of this miracle that is easy to miss is that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes through His disciples' instrumentality. He did this by inviting them to assist in the distribution of the loaves and in the gathering of the fragments left over. This reveals that God often uses us as mediators of His superabundant graces given to others. Though God could pour forth His mercy directly, most often He does so through others.As you ponder this miracle, try to see yourself as one of the disciples who was invited to distribute the bread to the people. If you were there and were hungry and then were given bread, you would be tempted to eat the bread yourself before giving any away. But Jesus gave the bread to His hungry disciples with the instruction to first give it to others.Sometimes, when God calls us to give His mercy to others, we become selfish. It's easy to think that we must first take care of ourselves and our own needs. We erroneously believe that we can only offer mercy to others after our needs are met. Imagine, for example, if upon receiving the bread from Jesus the disciples would have decided that they should eat of it first. Then, if there was anything extra, they could give it to others. Had they done this, the superabundance of the multiplication of the loaves would not have happened. In the end, the disciples themselves received a superabundance of food—precisely because they first gave away what they had received.Spiritually speaking, the same is true with us. When we receive spiritual nourishment from our Lord, our first thought must be to give it away. We must first see all that we receive from God as an opportunity to bestow those blessings upon others. This is the nature of grace. For example, if we are given a sense of peace or joy within our hearts, we must realize that this peace or joy we receive is a gift that must be immediately offered to others. If we are given a spiritual insight into the Scriptures, this is given to us first and foremost to share with others. Every gift we receive from God must be understood as a gift given to us so that we can immediately share it with others. The good news is that when we seek to give away that which we have received, more is given to us and, in the end, we will be far richer.Reflect, today, upon the action of the disciples receiving this food from our Lord and immediately giving it away. See yourself in this miracle, and see the bread as a symbol of every grace you receive from God. What have you received that God wants you to distribute to others? Are there graces you have received that you selfishly try to hold onto? The nature of grace is that it is given to give it to others. Seek to do this with every spiritual gift you receive, and you will find that the graces multiply to the point that you receive more than you could ever imagine.Most generous Lord, You pour forth Your grace and mercy in superabundance. As I receive all that You bestow, please fill my heart with generosity so that I will never hesitate to offer Your mercy to others. Please use me as Your instrument, dear Lord, so that, through me, You may abundantly feed others. Jesus, I trust in You. Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.

    August 6, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord - The Glory of the Transfiguration

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 5, 2023 7:12

    Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Mark 9:5–7Just prior to the Transfiguration, Jesus began to reveal to His disciples that He would suffer greatly, be rejected by the elders, be killed and then rise on the third day. This caused much fear for the disciples as they grappled with this unsettling revelation from our Lord. And even though Jesus remained firm with them and even rebuked Peter for his fear, Jesus also gave three of His disciples a very precious gift.After much traveling, preaching, miracle working and private conversations about His passion with the Twelve, Jesus invited Peter, James and John to go with Him up a high mountain to pray. These disciples most likely had no idea what they would soon encounter. As they made the difficult and arduous journey, their minds must have been pondering not only the mighty deeds done by Jesus in the previous months but also His words about the suffering to come. As they struggled with this, much to their amazement, Jesus “was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white.” Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared before them, representing the Law and the prophets. These two Old Testament figures appeared as a way of saying to these disciples that everything that Jesus was telling them was to take place to fulfill all that had been foretold about Him from of old. Perhaps Jesus thought that if His disciples would not fully listen to Him, then seeing Moses and Elijah would help. But Jesus went even further. The Voice of the Father Himself thundered and said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Thus, if these disciples would not ultimately listen to Jesus alone, or if even Moses and Elijah failed to convince them, then the last hope was the Father Himself. And Jesus delivered such a grace.The Transfiguration was a true mercy. These disciples had never seen anything like it before. But it was most likely this act of mercy that ultimately helped them to accept the hard truth that Jesus was trying to teach them about His coming suffering and death. If the Father in Heaven Personally gave witness to Jesus, then everything that Jesus had said was trustworthy.As we read through the Gospels and the many teachings God has given us through the Church, think about whether there are some teachings with which you struggle? Or in your own life, on a personal level, are there some things you know God wants of you but you find it difficult to accept? When confusion sets in, that means we are not listening, are not fully hearing what God is saying to us or are not understanding. And though we will not see the Transfigured Lord with our eyes and hear the Voice of the Father with our ears as these three disciples did, we must choose to believe all that God has said as if it were the Transfigured Lord, with Moses and Elijah, and the Father Himself speaking clearly and directly to us. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Those words were not only spoken for the good of the disciples, they are also spoken to us.Reflect, today, upon this powerful experience given to these disciples by our Lord. Try to place yourself in the scene so as to witness Jesus transfigured in the most glorious way, with Moses and Elijah and with the thundering Voice of the Father. Allow the Father to speak also to you, telling you that all He has spoken through the Scriptures, the Church and within your own conscience is true. Allow this revelation to convince you on the deepest level to acknowledge not only the divinity of Jesus but also to “Listen to Him” in every way. My transfigured Lord, You are glorious beyond imagination, and You revealed a small glimpse of this glory to Your disciples to help them trust You more fully. May I also trust in You more completely, knowing that all You have spoken to me is true. Please remove any doubt and fear in my life so that nothing keeps me from embracing Your holy will. Jesus, I trust in You.Source of content: catholic-daily-reflections.comCopyright © 2023 My Catholic Life! Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission via RSS feed.