Saturday, February 28, 2015

March 1, 2015 Sunday: Lenten Pilgrimage, 2nd Sunday of Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Sunday, 2nd Week of Lent
March 1, 2015



An excerpt from ‘Looking into the Heart of the Father’ by Fr. Blasé J Cupich

Someone once said that the Bible is simply the story of God’s patient and continual attempt to convince us of his love for us. I would add that it is a story aimed at our hearts and not just our minds. Everything God reveals about himself aims at bringing us to understand and to accept the unbelievable and astonishing truth that while his heart is full of grief at losing his only Son, it is even more full of love for us. In fact, because this plan of God is so beyond our understanding, beyond belief, God said it over and over again in varied ways throughout the centuries, preparing us to accept the scandal of his Son’s death on the cross.

That is how we should read the story of Abraham, who in the first reading today is preparing to sacrifice his only son Isaac because God is testing his faith. At first glance this seems to be a cruel test or a mad hoax by an equally cruel and mad God. After all, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Only in their old age did God finally make good on that promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah. Now God wants Abraham to slay this only son on an altar of sacrifice.



But we need to read this story, this text, as but the first episode of the story of God’s repeated attempt to reveal his love for us. Here God begins to reveal how much he loves us, and the plan he has for us to share his life. It is a plan that will only be revealed fully on the cross. There, on Calvary, the full irony of Abraham’s test is revealed. The irony is that God is the one who is willing to offer up his Son. Abraham gives us the first glimpse of this divine plan. That is why he is called the father of faith, for faith is about seeing into the heart of God. God uses Abraham to give a human face to what is otherwise unbelievable, namely that he plans to suffer the grief of losing his Son to gain us.

March 1, 2015: 2nd Sunday of Lent B

March 1, 2015: 2nd Sunday of Lent B

Click to hear Audio Homily
If you look back, was there a life event where you surrendered yourself freely or where you abandoned yourself completely to someone else? I’m talking about an instance where you gave up control, preference, or future plans. Several examples come to mind, albeit incomplete surrenders on our part--the day of your wedding at the altar, the day of my my ordination, the day of your loved one’s death. To make a complete surrender on this side of earth is difficult, isn't it?

It took a lot of trust on the part of Abraham to be willing to give up his only son. Isaac was Abraham’s hope and future promise for many descendants. How many of us here can completely abandon our life and future in the hands of God and be obedient to whatever God will ask as did Abraham? We may have the desire, but we may not have the resolve to give up things that we hold on so tightly.

What does it mean to surrender to God? It means, trusting God’s lead without knowing where He’s leading you. It means trusting and waiting for God’s timing without knowing when it will come. It means trusting God’s purpose in a situation without understanding the circumstances.

Perhaps Jesus, knowing the human weakness of resolve, had to show Peter, James, and John his transfigured self on Mount Tabor. The same three were with him in the agony of the garden. And Jesus’ transfiguration was a preparation for that ordeal. Still, only John was at Calvary while Peter and James abandoned Jesus at that critical hour on the Calvary.

We too are invited to Mount Tabor today to behold Christ’s glory so that we may be strengthened to bear our cross and be changed into his likeness. How many us remember the excitement of beholding the newborn infant Jesus only 8 weeks ago. Yet how much that excitement is still within our hearts? Jesus knows that we lack trust in God at times, and that lack of trust keeps us from surrendering our future in His hands and keeps us from being completely obedient to Him. Heavenly Father asks us today, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” This Lent, will we make our effort to listen to Jesus and trust him?

Fr Paul Yi

Feb. 28, 2015 Saturday: 1st Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Feb. 28, 2015 Saturday: 1st Week of Lent


Jesus said to the disciples, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? (Matt 5:43-45)



Maybe this isn’t the verse that we would have chosen to reflect on today. According to the dictionary, perfect means “entirely without flaw or defect … meeting supreme standards of excellence … satisfying all requirements.” To which many of us would respond: Really, Lord? I’m struggling just to keep one little Lenten resolution! I’ll never be perfect, no matter how hard I try.

One reason that perfection can seem so unattainable is that it sounds like an either-or proposition: you’re either perfect or imperfect. But as Scripture scholars point out, the Greek word translated as “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 carries a more dynamic meaning. It indicates something you grow into—a process of becoming whole and complete. From this perspective, we can imagine Jesus saying, “Keep moving forward! Keep working on becoming the person I created you to be. Don’t settle for anything less than the holiness of wholeness!” It may seem ironic, but it’s true: the more you become the unique person God made you to be, the more you will resemble Jesus, the perfect One.
(Word Among Us, www.wau.org)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Feb. 27, 2015 Friday: 1st Week of Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Feb. 27, 2015 Friday: 1st Week of Lent B

“If a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live. . . . Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:21-23)

God does forgive our sins- our human challenge lies in our ability to also forgive- which is not always an easy task.  We need God to help us in our process of forgiving others who possibly have made a decision that we find hurtful, or have acted in a way that has hurt another.  Trying to forgive, on our own, can be very difficult, but asking God to help us in our growth and eventual forgiveness, of another, is possible.

Forgiveness, includes…  “a new heart and a new spirit” leading us to healing, as we replace anger, resentment, or fear with reconciliation, forgiveness and acceptance of human mistakes, frailties and the perception of others. God does know what is in our hearts and with God’s help, through prayers and petitions, we can forgive and live virtuous lives if we humbly seek God’s presence and help in overcoming the conflicts we encounter with people in our lives.
(http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/022715.html)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Feb. 26, 2015 Thursday: 1st Week of Lent B

Lenten Pilgrimage
Feb. 26, 2015: Thursday of 1st Week of Lent

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matt 7:7)


This can be a hard gospel to read for those who don't think about it deeply enough: we ask God for something and don't receive it, so we draw the conclusion that the first lines of this passage are either incorrect or an outright lie. And if we read the rest of this passage in that same way, the text seems to go along with that: God will not always give us what we ask for.

What Jesus adds, however, about not giving a stone when our children ask for bread actually explains and justifies this seeming inconsistency. Too often we ask our Father for the wrong things --- stones, snakes, scorpions --- and are convinced that they are good for us. We think that when God doesn't give them to us it is because He doesn't really love us.

The problem here does not lie with God but with us, for if we believe that God only loves us when He is obedient to our immature understanding and misguided desires, we have a very childish view of God indeed.

Jesus calls us to look exclusively to the Father for all our needs and to trust that He will find ways to delight us --- even if it takes years for us to appreciate how apt and rich a gift He gives us in every circumstance. And Jesus asks us to trust in the Holy Spirit as well, praying as best we can that our desires match God's, that we seek only the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in all that we yearn for and do.
(http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/022615.html)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lenten Pilgrimage: Feb. 25, 2015 Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
February 25, 2015

"This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah" Luke 11:29b
 
In today’s Gospel passage the Ninevites heard and accepted the word of God spoken by Jonah, and they repented. Jonah was God's sign and his message was the message of a merciful and forgiving God. But Jonah was more than a sign; he also foreshadowed Jesus Himself. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a fish before being released onto the land – a prefiguring of the greatest sign of all, Jesus’ three days in the tomb before His glorious Resurrection. There is no greater sign of Jesus’ overwhelming love for us than that of His death and resurrection.

Do we really need miracles to believe? Let’s hope not, at least nothing more than the miracle of the Eucharist, the miracle of Emmanuel, of "God with us" every day until the end of time.

We too are called to be signs and the best sign we can give to the world is our genuine love for each other. Jesus began His public ministry by calling us to do just that. In His words: "Repent and believe in the Gospel." During this Lent, let us focus on accepting Jesus’ invitation to turn back to God, and discover the mystery of joy and freedom in that turning.
 
 

Feb. 24, 2015 Tuesday: Week 3 Divine Mercy - I was a stranger

Feb. 24, 2015 Tuesday
Week 3 of Divine Mercy Novena - I was a Stranger and You welcomed me

If you were an NFL football player, the chances are that wherever you go, you would not be a stranger. That’s the life Eric Mahl was used to when he was a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns. After a conversion experience, he heard a call from God to bring the message of Divine Mercy to the poor and so he began to live among the homeless. His clothes became worn and dirty, his face unshaven, and hair disheveled. When he entered churches, he was greeted by coldness from the people, even when he smiled and tried to talk to them. Even in church people would say unkind things to him, express their disapproval, and sometimes act as though he wasn’t a human person. Eric explained, “Most of the homeless just want someone to look them in the eye, say hello, or listen to their stories. You don’t have to give them money, but at least give them a little bit of your time and recognize their dignity in the way you look at them and talk to them. When you treat them with respect and love, it restores their dignity, and that’s true mercy.”

Jesus asked us to see him in the strangers we meet and welcome them. But strangers do not have to be literally homeless persons we’ve never met before. Do I have in my life friends or family members that have become strangers to me? Have they become strangers to me because I have not forgiven them for the way they hurt me? Is there anyone whom I give the silent treatment because I’m angry with them? Is there anyone I would refuse to help if he needed it? Is there anyone for whom I would not pray? 

If there is unforgiveness in my heart, perhaps it would be helpful for me to reflect on the abundance of mercy I have received from Our Lord. Do I reflect on how often Jesus has forgiven me? Do I reflect on his cry from the cross,“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34) Do I realize he still loves me when I choose to forgive even though I struggle with forgetting? As St. Faustina wrote in her diary, “We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors.” 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lenten Pilgrimage: Feb. 24, 2015 Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Tuesday of the First Week
February 24, 2015

A reflection on The Lord’s Prayer by Fr. Daniel L. Lowery, C.SS.R

We know the prayer by heart and say it often. It is perhaps the best-known prayer in the world. It is a precious prayer because it comes to us from Jesus himself. Through the years, many of the saints have written explicit meditations on this prayer, taking apart the words, as it were, so that their meaning could take deep roots in their hearts. The reflections that follow are basically those of St. Cyprian who wrote them in A.D. 250.

Our Father, Who art in heaven: One of the greatest truths of our faith is that we are the adopted sons and daughters of God and so can call him Father. It is noteworthy that we are not instructed to say “my father,” for we do not pray for ourselves alone, but we pray as members of the community of the Church, the sons and daughters of God, and we pray for the good of all.

Hallowed be Thy name: It is not as if we think we make God holy by our prayers. Rather, we are asking that his name be made holy in us. We pray that we who have been hallowed (made holy) in baptism may persevere in what we have begun.

Thy kingdom come: We pray that the kingdom built for us by God, the kingdom won by the death and resurrection of Christ, will fully come.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: Our prayer here is that we may carry out God’s saving will in our lives.  All that Jesus did and all that he taught was “the will of God.” We pray that in the face of obstacles and temptations we may have help and strength to do his will.

Give us this day our daily bread: This petition may be understood in a spiritual and in a literal way. Spiritually, Christ himself is our bread of life; he is our “food for the journey.” In addition, we believe that our Father knows our needs, and we trust that he will take care of us. We pray that his loving providence envelops us.

And forgive us our trespasses: We acknowledge that we are indeed sinners, that each day finds us unfaithful in this way or that. But we also recognize our Father’s great love, mercy, forgiveness. We believe that our Father truly forgives our sins.

As we forgive those who trespass against us: Jesus clearly laid down a condition for forgiveness – namely, that our debts be forgiven insofar as we forgive our debtors. If we hope for forgiveness from God, we must be ready to forgive others.

And lead us not into temptation: Here we pray not out of fear that God himself will lead us astray but, rather, to show our confidence that God can give us an escape from temptation and that “he will not let you be tested beyond your strength.”

But deliver us from evil: We pray to be kept safe from the power of Satan, the evil one, and all that he stands for. We pray that God will overcome evil in our lives.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lenten Pilgrimage: Feb. 23, 2015 Monday, First Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Monday, First Week of Lent


‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Today’s Gospel invites us to find the face of Christ in each of our brothers and sisters. Perhaps it would be easier to see Christ in others if we remembered that we are all made in the very image and likeness of God. One day we will be asked how well we responded to the need of others…. Did we love God? Did we love each other? Did we serve and care for the hungry and homeless, the sick, the destitute, the outcast, and those in prison? Did we respect everyone’s dignity? Did we work for peace? Whatever our response is will reflect whether we understood that love is not so much an emotion as much as it is an act of the will, the loving act of willing another's good, even at the expense of our own.

Let us ask the Lord, whom we behold under the appearances of simple bread and wine, to help us recognize him in the disguise of the poor, the sick, the naked, the hungry, the imprisoned, the lonely, and the dying.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Feb. 22, 2015: 1st Sunday of Lent B

Click to hear audio homily
During Lent, a priest went to visit an elderly woman from his church who had just had an operation. As he was sitting there talking with her, he noticed a bowl of peanuts on the table next to the bed. Although he promised himself that he was not going to snack during Lent, he couldn’t resist the temptation and began to eat the peanuts. When it was time for him to leave, he noticed he had eaten all the peanuts. The priest said" I'm sorry I ate all of your peanuts." She replied, "That's okay Father, I already sucked all of the chocolate off of them."

Here is a sobering thought. We will never be free of trials and temptations as long as our earthly life lasts. Therefore, we should always be on our guard against temptations, always praying that our enemy, the devil, who never sleeps but constantly looks for someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8), will not catch us off guard. No one in this world is so perfect or holy as not to have temptations sometimes. We can never be entirely free of them. Many try to fly away from temptations only to fall more deeply into them; for you cannot win a battle by mere flight. It is only by patience and humility that you will be strengthened against the enemy.

This is how temptation works: first we have a thought, followed by strong imagination, then the pleasure and evil emotions, and finally consent. This is how the enemy gains full admittance, because he was not resisted at the outset. The slower we are to resist, the weaker we daily become and the stronger the enemy is against us.

Why does the devil tempt us so often? What’s in it for him? Let’s look at what happened to Jesus. The temptations from the devil came immediately after his baptism. At his baptism, Jesus received a mission from the Father--the mission was to inaugurate the kingdom of God. The temptations he experienced in the desert were an attempt to distort that mission. The Devil tempts us to distort the mission that the Father gives us. Yet, God allows temptations so that we may grow in our virtue to choose good over evil. Every time we overcome temptation, we become stronger spiritually. How can we become saints without temptations?

We should not be discouraged when tempted, but turn in fervent prayer to God. In His infinite goodness and compassion, God will help us in all our needs. Jesus achieved victory over temptation by prayer, fasting, and obedience to the word of God. We too can achieve victory if we endure patiently in the time of temptation or adversity.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lenten Pilgrimage: Feb. 21, 2015 Saturday after Ash Wednesday

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Saturday after Ash Wednesday


Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:27-32)


Levi, the tax collector, was despised by his fellow Galileans, rejected by his synagogue, and shunned by his family. Yet when Jesus encounters him, he calls him to follow him…and Levi leaves everything behind and follows. The gospel text reminds us that the Word of God is not just for those who believe and live their lives in accordance with his wishes for they are not in need of conversion. His Word is for all people and particularly for those who are not living a life worthy of him – and he is the judge of what is worthy of him. Conversion is a movement toward love, a renewed personal intimacy and friendship with God. Conversion celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, life over death.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lenten Pilgrimage: Feb. 20, 2015, Friday after Ash Wednesday

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Friday, Feb. 20, 2015

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. (Isaiah 58:6-11)

For Christians, fasting has been a way to break our dependence on worldly items and thus allow Christ's love to fill and expand our lives. Allow the Lord to be the bread of life that sustains you. In response to His love, make an effort today to provide food to shut-in, clothes to a shelter or food to a food pantry.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lenten Pilgrimage: Thursday after Ash Wednesday

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Thursday, February 19, 2015

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:24)

At first glance, it's odd that the early Christian community settled on the cross -- an instrument of torture -- as their identifying symbol. With the eyes of faith, however, they saw something more. The cross is a sign of faithful love. Jesus' mission to teach and live the kingdom of God -- the reign of justice, peace, and love -- led him to the cross. And from this cross, God's faithful love brought us life.  (Fr Kevin O'Brien)

Feb. 18, 2015: Ash Wednesday

Feb. 18, 2015: Ash Wednesday

Recently, I was presiding over a funeral where the person’s cremated remains were in an urn. When I looked at the urn, I reflected: there inside the small metal container was the entire person. The scripture from the Book of Genesis came to mind, “You are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) When we look at that urn, we begin to recognize the absurdities of life. Why do we work so hard to accumulate so many earthly goods when at the end they won’t fit into our urn or our caskett? Why do we place such high value on that which does not last--prestige, pleasure, comfort, or self-importance?

Often the perceived focus of Lent is what we shouldn’t do, where we practice self-denials of sensual pleasures in search of our God. Giving up chocolate for Lent would have little more meaning than a weight-loss program were it not accompanied by a deeper encounter with Father, Son , and Holy Spirit through prayer, spiritual reading, and reflection and a new concern for those in need.  The real focus and purpose of Lent is realizing again that God is searching for us, culminating with God sending His Son to draw us to Himself. Lent affords us an opportunity to re-enter the mystery of our baptism--the mystery of loving God who purifies us and sets us apart as His children so that we can go out and make disciples of Our Lord.

On this Ash Wednesday, the beginning of our Lenten journey, we reflect on our lives by asking the questions: Looking at my life thus far, am I living for God or am I living for myself? Is what I am doing now bringing others and myself closer to God or pushing away from God? If our lives are on the wrong path, we should open our ears again to hear the primordial call of Christ as the ashes in the mark of the cross are put on our forehead: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” In that short command, we are given the hope of being reclaimed, restored, and made new again. 

We must remember that a dustbin is not our ultimate destiny. For those who repent and believe in the Gospel, our ultimate destiny is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in the New Jerusalem, where all things are made new and those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb are made sons and daughters of God.

Fr. Paul Yi

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lenten Pilgrimage: Ash Wednesday

Lenten Pilgrimage: Ash Wednesday
February 18, 2015

"Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:19)

"...the Lenten pilgrimage begins with the reception of ashes (preferably in abundance) and the reminder that we are dust and to dust we shall return. The grittiness of Lent continues for six weeks, until pilgrims enter the supreme realism of the Paschal Triduum."
(George Weigel, Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches)

Feb. 17, 2015 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Novena Wk 2, I was hungry and you gave me food

Feb. 17, 2015 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Novena Wk 2, I was hungry and you gave me food

If you had to put a dollar figure on how much it costs to feed a teenager for a month, what would it be? Some estimates that it costs about $300 per teenager. Of course that’s not including the cost to replenish your refrigerator after many of his or her friends come over to snack.

Feeding the hungry begins at home. Our work as a breadwinner or homemaker feeds others besides ourselves. We may not realize that we are doing a work of mercy when we simply prepare dinner for our family. Perhaps it seems like a mundane task, but we can make a choice: we can do this task begrudgingly or out of love. Do we roll up our sleeves and consciously do such work joyfully as an act of mercy?

Last week, I mentioned to you that mercy is love that feels compassion for those who suffer (heart) and reaches out to help (action). Those who are hungry and thirsty are right around us. Many of you bring cooked meals to your neighbors who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Here at our own parish, concerned parishioners volunteer their time during the week to serve the poor who come to our parish for emergency grocery and utilities assistance. Many of you participate in this ministry by simply bringing a few grocery items to replenish our emergency food pantry.

This Lent with your acts of mercy, you can satiate the hunger and quench the thirst of Jesus who comes to us in the disguise of our neighbor. You can also help alleviate hunger and poverty in our Diocese and  overseas by participating in the Operation Rice Bowl; the bowls can be found in the back of the church. You can also bring food items to help replenish our emergency food pantry. It’s not how much you give, but how much love you put in the giving, as Mother Teresa said.  What finally counts is not whether we know about Jesus but loving Jesus through our mercy in action to our neighbors.

Fr. Paul Yi

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Feb. 15, 2015: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Would you say you are comfortable visiting the sick or going up to a homeless person to make an eye contact? Most of us are uncomfortable when we encounter the sick and the poor. We may write a check to a charity that helps the poor, but we do not want physical contact with a homeless person. We may send a text or an email to the sick, but can’t bring ourselves to visit them. Whereas we avoid uncomfortable physical contact with the poor and the sick, we love it when a family member or close friend offers a reassuring pat on the back or a gentle squeeze of the hand when troubled. We feel honored when someone important shakes our hand.

If you were offered a $1,000 to touch a person with leprosy, would you? When Mother Teresa was asked that question, she replied, "No, I wouldn't touch a leper for a thousand dollars." But she added, "Yet I willingly care for him for the love of God." She said, “We have medicine for people with diseases such as leprosy. But these medicine do not treat the main problem, the disease of being unwanted. That’s what my sisters hope to provide...The feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty of all.”


Physical contact is precisely what gives people, especially sick and wounded people, a sense of acceptance. By the very act of touching another person we accept that person exactly as he or she is. Physical touch bridges the gap of loneliness that exists in our hearts. We can learn a thing or two from Jesus, because he touched lepers, sinners, sick people and the dead.

That small gesture of the touch by Jesus meant the world to the leper. He felt he was a human being after all. Although the leper’s body was horribly wounded by the disease, his spirit was even more deeply wounded--by the sense of having been rejected. More often our own self-rejection is even more painful and debilitating.

Kindness is almost as important to a sick person as medicine. It’s amazing what people can do for people. People can rekindle hope, bring back the zest for living, and restore self-respect by small gestures of kindness. In kindness, people can mirror the compassion of God. Lent begins this Wednesday. Let’s ponder not only what we can abstain from, but also what gestures of light we can bring to another person by our acts of mercy--in action, in word, and in prayer. This Lent, let us strive for a permanent change that goes beyond the 40 days.

Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, February 13, 2015

Feb. 23, 2015 Friday: 5th Week in Ordinary Time B

Feb. 23, 2015 Friday: 5th Week in Ordinary Time B

1. Preparation
I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?


2. Today's Scripture (Mark 7:31-37)
Then Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

3. Reflection (www.medjugorje.ws)
Medjugorje Message, February 2, 2012
“Dear children; I am with you for so much time and already for so long I have been pointing you to God’s presence and his infinite love, which I desire for all of you to come to know. And you, my children? You continue to be deaf and blind as you look at the world around you and do not want to see where it is going without my Son. You are renouncing him – and he is the source of all graces. You listen to me while I am speaking to you, but your hearts are closed and you are not hearing me. You are not praying to the Holy Spirit to illuminate you. My children, pride has come to rule. I am pointing out humility to you. My children, remember that only a humble soul shines with purity and beauty because it has come to know the love of God. Only a humble soul becomes Heaven, because my Son is in it. Thank you. Again I implore you to pray for those whom my Son has chosen – those are your shepherds. ”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Feb. 12, 2015 Thursday: 5th Week in Ordinary Time B

Feb. 12, 2015 Thursday: 5th Week in Ordinary Time B

1. Preparation
At any time of the day or night we can call on Jesus.
He is always waiting, listening for our call.
What a wonderful blessing.
No phone needed, no e-mails, just a whisper.


2. Today's Scripture (Genesis 2:18-25)
The LORD God said:
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.

The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.

3. Reflection (Word Among Us, www.wau.org)
Aren’t weddings beautiful? One thing everyone can see at a wedding is the joy on the face of the groom as he sees his bride walking toward him down the aisle of the church. But no smile down through the ages has been bigger than that of Adam, when he set eyes on the woman God presented to him. Gazing on her beauty, he finally understood who he was and the purpose of his life!

Up to this point, Adam was all alone. Yes, the other animals made engaging companions, but Adam knew that he was different. After all, do animals ponder the night sky or ask why things are the way they are? What’s more, only Adam had the desire and capacity to interact with God. Now there was another—a woman—who shared all of this with him. As different from Adam as she was, Eve was still a suitable partner for him. Together, they learned that they were created with a unique purpose—and to be a unique and exclusive gift to each other.

At retreats and youth conferences around the world, young women are learning about the dignity they have as daughters of God. Their hearts lighten at the message that the men in their lives are called to treasure and honor them. They are relieved to learn that they don’t have to settle for a lesser way of relating, one based primarily on physical attractiveness or sexual performance. For their part, young men are learning of the high calling they have to honor, protect, and cherish women. They are learning that they are created to give of themselves, not to use people for their own pleasure.

So it’s all about self-gift, not self-gratification. It’s about treasuring the gift that we are to each other. The question is, “How can I become more self-giving?” Here’s one easy way to start: make it a point every day to tell your spouse how much you love and treasure him or her. Start with that, and God will bless everything else.

4. Prayer
“Father, you created me to love and be loved. Help me to break out of patterns of isolation and selfishness so that I can know deeper communion with you and those you have placed in my life.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Feb. 11, 2015 Wednesday: Our Lady of Lourdes

Feb. 11, 2015 Wednesday: Our Lady of Lourdes


1. Today's Scripture (Genesis 2:17)
The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave man this order: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”

2. Reflection (www.divinemercy.org)

On Obedience

"By obedience you give great glory to Me and gain merit for yourself."
— Jesus to St. Faustina (Diary of St. Faustina, 28)

The word obedience has never been a favorite of mine. I used to equate it with drudgery. It seemed to involve toeing a line — a line drawn by someone else, not me. If my obedience were demanded — such as in attending Church each Sunday morning — I would inquire, in turn, to be briefed on the rationality for such obedience.

I was shrewd that way.

But, it turns out, my mother was far shrewder.

I remember our refrigerator door always had the typical revolving display of glitter-and-glue artwork and test papers. But one day, a new item was added to the permanent collection. It was a copy, front and center, of the Ten Commandments. My mother had finally put it up there as a means of stifling the increasingly clamorous, enthusiastic, and cleverly crafted arguments I made each Sunday morning as to why we shouldn't go to church.

"Keep holy the Sabbath Day," my mother would say, tapping on the copy of the Ten Commandments. She'd say it with a shrug as if to declare, "Don't blame me. It's not my decision to make."

Even at an early age I knew there was no comeback to a commandment from God. I went to church, obediently, and that was that. Little did I know I'd grow to understand the true essence of obedience to God — that it's a virtue done out of love, not drudgery. As an adult, it's a lesson I wouldn't want to live without.

Obedience to God means to be submissive to His will. What does that entail? It entails glorifying Him with our lives, like St. Faustina did, like Our Blessed Mother did. And it's not as difficult as you may imagine. As the author and Divine Mercy scholar, Fr. George W. Kosicki, CSB, points out, we can learn from St. Faustina that "seeking and desiring to do God's will is a giant step in fulfilling His will" (Revelations of Divine Mercy, Marian Press).

That is to say, by seeking, we find. Otherwise, it won't come automatically. That's the case even with one as spiritually gifted as St. Faustina. Sure, St. Faustina was blessed with gifts that probably none of us will ever have. She had visions and hidden stigmata. She could bilocate. She could read human souls. She had a close, personal relationship with Christ, the Blessed Mother, angels, saints, and souls in purgatory. Still, she knew such gifts did not, in themselves, bring about holiness.

She wrote: "Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God" (Diary, 1107).

She learned such obedience from a master — the Mother of God, herself — who taught her to "accept with profound submission to the will of God" (Diary, 1624).

At the Annunciation, Mary's obedience begins with a choice — her choice to cooperate in God's plan. In obedience, she conceived God's only Son, forsaking her own plans for her life. Mary also invites us all to obey Jesus without hesitation when, at the Wedding Feast of Cana, she says, "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5). Still, the most courageous example of her obedience was exhibited when, in conformity with God's will, she offered her Son to be crucified.

But how are we to live up to Mary's example? The Gospels solidify God's requirements of us. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments," Jesus tells His disciples (Jn 14:15). Later, He tells them, "You are My friends if you do what I command you" (Jn 15:14).

God couldn't make his expectation of us any clearer. The Bible tells us to obey God because He knows what He's doing (Is 55:8,9). It tells us to obey God because it is He alone who knows what's best for us — "for we are His handiwork" (Eph 2:10).

We also know why we should be obedient since we know full well the consequence of disobedience. Adam and Eve's disobedience to God brought sin, suffering, and death into the world. The Bible, in fact, is rife with consequences of disobedience. Remember Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back?

In St. Faustina's revelations, Christ doesn't shy away from drawing a line and exhorting us to toe it. He tells St. Faustina, "Before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the doors of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the doors of My mercy must pass through the doors of My justice..." (1146).

Still, obedient souls such as Mary and St. Faustina, make it clear that following God's will is not a virtue done out of fear, but out of love and trust. Through Mary, we learn the loving consequence of obedience since her obedience brought the Savior of mankind into the world. Through our own obedience, we, too, may be Christ bearers to a hurting world.

"Yes, when you are obedient I take away your weakness and replace it with My strength," Christ tells St. Faustina. "I am very surprised that souls do not want to make that exchange with Me" (Diary, 381).

Talk about outlining the rationality for obedience!

As a young child, I thought nothing could please me more than to break the chain of Church commitments. Now I know my mother was right all along. By trusting, loving, and obeying God — by offering ourselves wholeheartedly to His divine plan like St. Faustina did, like Mary did — only then can we experience the greatest, most lasting joy imaginable: the joy of God in our lives.

http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3232

Feb. 10, 2015 Tuesday: Week 1, Divine Mercy Novena

Feb. 10, 2015 Tuesday: Week 1, Divine Mercy Novena - You Did it To Me

When you are sick, are you a good patient or a cranky, demanding patient? This winter, many of us had to endure through particularly bad cases of cold and flu. Even after taking flu vaccines, many of us missed school, work, and stayed home feeling miserable. Perhaps while home feeling miserable, you were fortunate to have a family member or friend come to ease the suffering. Those who came to our aid risked getting infected; but they took mercy on us. Used in this sense, mercy is showing compassion or forbearance upon someone in distress. To be merciful is taking on the pain of the sufferer, but with the hope that some positive good will emerge from this shared suffering. Put in another way, mercy is love that feels compassion for those who suffer (heart) and reaches out to help (action).


There are times when it seems effortless to be merciful, because the person we're helping is lovable and shows gratitude. However, there are times when we are less inclined to be merciful. Perhaps we encounter a stranger, or a person with whom we had a prior disagreement where it wasn’t so pleasant. It takes much patience and kindness to deal with a difficult person or situation without becoming angry. So, it costs to be merciful; in other words, it is a sacrifice. To put this in perspective, think about the times when we were difficult or unlovable and God was merciful to us.

Jesus said in Matthew 25 that when we are merciful to those who may be strangers to us or those who are are not so lovable, we are actually being merciful to Jesus himself. He comes to us as the hungry one, the homeless one, the grieving one, and the incarcerated one. Jesus will say to us, “You did it to me.” What an amazing revelation! We can console Jesus. We can put our compassion for Jesus in action. As you begin to ponder what to do for your Lenten practice, can you think of ways that you can be merciful to others in your everyday encounters? Perhaps our greatest challenge is recognizing that Christ is present in every person we meet.

Fr. Paul Yi

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Feb. 10, 2015 Tuesday: St. Scholastica

Feb. 10, 2015 Tuesday: St. Scholastica

1. Preparation
Dear Jesus, as I call on you today I realise that I often come asking for favours. Today I'd like just to be in your presence. Let my heart respond to Your Love.


2. Today's Scripture (Mark 7:1-13)
“This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me..."

3. Reflection (St. Faustina)
I tremble to think that I have to give an account of my tongue. There is life, but there is also death in the tongue. Sometimes we kill with the tongue: we commit real murders. And we are still to regard that as a small thing? I truly do not understand such consciences. I have known a person who, when she learned from someone that a certain thing was being said about her, fell seriously ill. She lost a good deal of blood and shed many tears, and the outcome was very sad. It was not the sword that did all this, but the tongue. O my silent Jesus, have mercy on us!(Diary 119)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Jesus to St. Faustina - Patience and Hardships

Reward for patience and hardships


St. Faustina once complained to the Lord Jesus because she saw how much her confessor was suffering due to the carrying out of this work. She said: “Jesus, this is Your affair, so why are You acting this way toward him? It seems to me that You are making difficulties for him, while at the same time ordering him to act.”
The Lord Jesus answered: “Write that by day and night My gaze is fixed upon him, and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit. I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardships undergone for My sake.” (#86)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

9-Week Divine Mercy Novena at Ascension Catholic Church (Feb. 10-Apr. 7, 2015)

Divine Mercy Chaplet and Mass Schedule
(6PM Mass followed by Chaplet)
1. Tues. Feb. 10 "You Did it To Me. What is mercy?"
2. Tues. Feb. 17 "I was hungry and you gave me food"
3. Tues. Feb. 24 "I was a stranger and you welcomed me"
4. Tues. Mar. 3 "Praying the Chaplet for the dying"
5. Tues. Mar. 10 "I was naked and you clothed me"
6. Tues. Mar. 17 "I was sick and you visited me"
7. Tues. Mar. 24 "I was in prison and you came to me"
8. Tues. Mar. 31 "Almsgiving"
9. Tues. Apr. 7 "Putting Mercy into Action"

Divine Mercy Sunday, April 12
1:30-2:45PM Confession
3 PM Chaplet sung followed by Mass

Confessions will be also offered on Sunday April 12
before and after 8AM and 10:30AM mass.
7am-7:45am Ascension Catholic Church
9:15am-9:45am Ascension Catholic Church
10am - 10:20am St. Francis Catholic Church
11:30am - 12pm St. Francis Catholic Church

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Feb. 8, 2015: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Are you familiar with the game show, Family Feud? [The show features a competition in which two families must name the most popular responses to a survey question posed to 100 people in order to win cash and prizes.] On one show, the following question was asked,
“Name An Occupation That People Consider Caring.” What’s your guess? (Answers at the bottom) The basic meaning of care is: to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with.

A couple of nights ago, I invited a couple preparing for their wedding into this church to practice the wedding vows. As we entered, they saw tables full of baby photos and toys that had been set up for the funeral for the 19-month old boy. The bride-to-be knew the parents of the boy and she began to cry. She was grieving with the parents of the little boy. She cared. And that’s what happened at the funeral of that little boy--hundreds of friends and acquaintance of the family streamed through the church to grieve and to cry with the family.

Jesus shows us how to be caring in today’s Gospel. Jesus did not insulate himself from those who were suffering. At the sight of Peter’s mother-in-law who was ill and at the sight of all who were suffering, Jesus grieved at their plight, and he healed them.

Suffering is an inescapable mystery of life. We may think that the road of suffering is narrow and dark, but it’s a great comfort to us to know that Jesus went down this road, and went down it to the end. Because Jesus travelled the road, it is no longer the same -- now, a bright light illuminates it. Our relationship with Christ will deepen as we take comfort in his suffering and share with him our own.
We should not avoid the suffering of others, for the suffering of others can be an opportunity for us to be Christ to others. Caring is about forming a relationship with another, often simply by our listening and by our presence. We may seldom be able to cure them or fix their problem, but it’s always within our power to care. Caring is a very healing experience for both the giver and the receiver.

Is there another way for us to be an instrument of caring and healing? Jesus told St. Faustina regarding sick and the dying, "By your entreaties [i.e. insistent prayers] obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least." Beginning this Tuesday evening, we have the opportunity to be instruments of healing by participating in the 9-week Novena of the Divine Mercy. The mass will be at 6PM followed by the singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Please invite your family and friends to join us for this time of prayer.

(Answers: 1. Nurse 2. Doctor 3. Teacher 4. Childcare Provider)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Feb. 6, 2015 Friday: Sts. Paul Miki and Companions

Feb. 6, 2015 Friday: Sts. Paul Miki and Companions



1. Preparation
If God were trying to tell me something, would I know?
If God were reassuring me or challenging me, would I notice?
I ask for the grace to be free of my own preoccupations
and open to what God may be saying to me.

2. Today's Scripture (Mark 6:14-29)
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him." But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised." For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife. "And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it." And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer." Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

3. Reflection
I will never forsake you or abandon you. (Hebrews 13:5)
Never. Not in any circumstance. Not for any reason. Not at any time. There are no loopholes or limitations to this promise. No restrictions apply.

This promise forms the foundation for all the hospitality, generosity, honor, purity, and brotherly love that the author of Hebrews mentions. God will never desert you or give up on you. When things are complicated, confusing, or overwhelming, you can fall back on his promise and know that he is with you. Even when you don’t “feel” his presence, he is still there, hidden in the depths of your heart, giving you his grace.

So you can rest confidently. Almighty God can be your light when the way is dark and your salvation when you feel threatened. Relying on his promise, you can push aside any fear that robs you of sleep. You can find a way to be generous even when finances are tight. You can endure the exhaustion of having two jobs, being a new mother, studying for exams, or juggling multiple projects and schedules. And not just endure—you can find peace and joy in the midst of it all. All because you know that God is always with you.

This promise is more than a nice thought or a springboard for increased self-effort. It’s a weapon you can use to defend against whatever threatens to discourage you or rob you of your peace. It’s a strong support for you as you grapple with the challenges and stresses of life: a cancer diagnosis, the loss of a job, temptation to substance abuse, pornography, gossip, or slander. As your mind churns and your emotions flail, one thing is true: God has promised never to leave you.

So go ahead and ask him, “Where are you right now, Father?” He may surprise you with what he says about who he is, who you are to him, and what he knows about your circumstances. He will help you find the way through them. He will calm your fears and give you the assurance that he can bear you up as you keep trying to be hospitable, generous, and loving. Whenever you feel forsaken or rejected, rely on this: I will never forsake you or abandon you.

4. Prayer
“Father, where are you right now? Help me to rest confidently in your strength and love.”

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Feb. 5, 2015 Thursday: St. Agatha

Feb. 5, 2015 Thursday: St. Agatha

1. Preparation
Lord, may I never take the gift
of freedom for granted. You gave
me the great blessing of freedom of
spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and
Your joy.


2. Today's Scripture (Mark 6:7-13)
Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

3. Reflection (Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net)
Why does Jesus tell the apostles to "travel light" with little or no provision? "Poverty of spirit" frees us from greed and preoccupation with our possessions and makes ample room for God's provision. The Lord wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves. He wills to work in and through each of us for his glory. Are you ready to use the spiritual authority and power which God wishes you to exercise on his behalf? The Lord entrusts us with his gifts and talents. Are you eager to place yourself at his service, to do whatever he bids you, and to witness his truth and saving power to whomever he sends you?

4. Prayer
"Lord Jesus, make me a channel of your healing power and merciful love that others may find abundant life and freedom in you. Free me from all other attachments that I may joyfully pursue the treasure of your heavenly kingdom. May I witness the joy of the Gospel both in word and deed."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Feb. 2, 2015 Message from Our Lady of Medjugorje

Latest Medjugorje Message, February 2, 2015
To Mirjana during an apparition


“Dear children! I am here, I am among you. I am looking at you, am smiling at you and I love you in the way that only a mother can. Through the Holy Spirit who comes through my purity, I see your hearts and I offer them to my Son. Already for a long time I have been asking of you to be my apostles, to pray for those who have not come to know God’s love. I am asking for prayer said out of love, prayer which carries out works and sacrifices. Do not waste time thinking about whether you are worthy to be my apostles. The Heavenly Father will judge everyone; and you, love him and listen to him. I know that all of this confuses you, even my very stay among you, but accept it with joy and pray that you may comprehend that you are worthy to work for Heaven. My love is upon you. Pray that my love may win in all hearts, because that is the love which forgives, gives and never stops. Thank you. ”

Feb. 4, 2015 Wednesday: 4th Week in Ordinary Time B

Feb. 4, 2015 Wednesday: 4th Week in Ordinary Time B

1. Preparation
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.



2. Today's Scripture (Mark 6:1-6)
Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.

3. Reflection (www.sacredspace.ie)
Jesus ‘was amazed at their unbelief’. Do I sometimes amaze God by my unbelief? Do I bring God down to my own small size, so that I am no longer open to wonder? And do I diminish other people? The Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh, has the challenging line, ‘He had the knack of making men feel as small as they really were, which meant, as great as God had made them.’ Can I do that? Or do I diminish myself, so that I am afraid to use my gifts, afraid to respond when the Holy Spirit prompts me to be kind, to speak out, or to intervene in awkward situations?

4. Prayer
Lord, save me from spoiling the lives of others or my own. Let me amaze you a little by responding more often to the gentle calls of grace!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Feb. 3, 2015 Tuesday: 4th Week in Ordinary Time B

Feb. 3, 2015 Tuesday: 4th Week in Ordinary Time B

1. Preparation
Dear Jesus, today I call on you in a special way.
Mostly I come asking for favours.
Today I'd like just to be in Your presence.
Let my heart respond to Your Love.



2. Today's Scripture (Mark 5:21-43)
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

3. Reflection (www.sacredspace.ie)
Here we find situations where human solutions fail. ‘She is at the point of death’ … ‘She grew worse’… ‘She is dead.’ But Jesus confronts human hopelessness. The needs of the sick and the faith of those concerned evoke a compassionate response from him. He is tender to the two women. He calls one, ‘Daughter!’ and the other, ‘Little girl’ (literally ‘Little lamb’).
In my need I too can turn to him and find healing. That healing will focus on my heart – my negativity, bad moods, hurtful responses, hardness. He is always trying to help me grow in love. Then I can in turn become a tender and healing presence to those around me.

4. Prayer
“Jesus, I stand ready to do whatever you call me to.”

Monday, February 2, 2015

Feb. 2, 2015 Monday: Presentation of the Lord in the Temple

Feb. 2, 2015 Monday: Presentation of the Lord in the Temple



1. Preparation
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....

2. Today's Scripture
The Word of God

Luke 2:22-40
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

3. Reflection (Word Among Us, www.wau.org)
Do babies ever get switched at birth? There have been times when a baby was accidently given to the wrong family at the hospital. It’s rare, especially now that many hospitals have special procedures in place to reduce such risks, but mistakes still happen. Sometimes, even the parents can’t spot their own child in a crowded nursery!
So imagine the challenge that poor Simeon had. He spent years at the Temple waiting for a special baby that he had never met. And he had no idea what that baby would look like. All he knew was that he would not die before he had laid eyes on Israel’s Messiah.

But Simeon wasn’t in too helpless a situation. He had a secret helper who could point out the Messiah no matter how crowded the Temple became. So as Simeon scanned the faces and waited to catch a glimpse of the promised One, he knew that the Holy Spirit would nudge him toward just the right person. Patiently he waited. Carefully he looked. And trustingly he listened.

The Holy Spirit is doing the same thing for us today that he did for Simeon so long ago. And he’s doing it on a much larger scale. Back then, he helped Simeon spot the Messiah in the face of one infant. But today, he is helping us see Christ in the eyes of every person we meet. He is helping us see the dignity and value of everyone around us because they all bear the image and likeness of Christ. Whether it’s the new baby crying loudly during Mass on Sunday, the reclusive neighbor down the street, the co-worker with the offensive political views, or the kindly cashier at the market—each of them reflects the Lord in one way or another. Each of them is a unique revelation of who God is and how he works. And that means each of them is worthy of your respect.
May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to see Christ today.

4. Prayer
“Lord, help me take time to look into the faces of your people today. Teach me to value each person as a child of God.”