For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
Do I hold myself above others because of my nationality, religion, good taste or virtuous life? If I seriously believe that I am intrinsically superior to any of God’s children because of the circumstances of my life, especially my citizenship in God’s kingdom, then I am exalting myself and headed for embarrassment. I need to learn humility, which requires that I discard all masks — Halloween or otherwise — in favor of complete honesty and simple gratitude. All my gifts, especially God’s saving grace, are just that: unearned gifts. Lord, thank you for all your gifts.
*Help me always to use them for your glory and the good of my brothers and sisters.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.
In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus wept over Jerusalem because so many refused his message. Today, Paul anguishes over the rift between followers of Christ and his Jewish kin. If we are truly alert to Jesus’ words, "That all may be one," we too should be earnestly praying and honestly working toward understanding and unity among people of different faiths. Christians are divided into many denominations. Jews are divided from Christians; both are divided from Muslims. Yet all of these faiths worship the one God. Let us pray, study and interact with all men and women of faith to forge paths of understanding and bonds of love.
*Lord, teach us to love all those who love you, for your sake.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
If God is for us, who can be against us?
A cynic’s response: "Everyone else." We are sometimes overwhelmed by the obstacles we encounter as we seek to do God’s will. We feel abandoned by our friends and even by God. Today’s first reading is an impassioned argument in support of faith. Paul, who certainly knew temptation and opposition, boldly challenges us to believe and to act fearlessly on our belief because God the all-mighty, who is closer to us than our heartbeat, stronger than the worst evil we will ever face, loves us immeasurably and sustains us unfailingly. The more we affirm our faith and act on it, the stronger our faith becomes.
*Let us make a daily act of faith part of our lives. Lord, I believe. Help my disbelief.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred to the Lord.
We know very little about the apostles Simon (the Zealot) and Jude, as is the case with most of the Twelve Apostles. Jesus certainly chose some unlikely people to be his closest companions and to guide the church after his ascension — ignorant fishermen, a despised tax collector and a one-time member of the rebellious Zealots. The point is beautifully made in the first reading. We, like the apostles, are being formed through Christ into a temple for God. We are perfected by God’s grace in Jesus Christ. None of us earns this or deserves it. It is all God’s gracious gift.
*We thank you, Lord, for making us your own; use us as you will.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The sufferings of the present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. We all become impatient, even with God. We work and pray for universal concerns like war, poverty and children denied life, or — closer to home — an alienated loved one or a child who has left the church. We donate money, time and skills to healing the ills of the world and our loved ones. When we seem to see no change, we almost despair. But our prayers and sufferings are not in vain. God builds the kingdom through us, quietly, like leavening yeast and germinating seed … but in God’s time.
*Lord, grant us the grace to trust in you, hope in you and love you in all people, for your love’s sake.
Monday, October 26, 2009
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Paul warns us, as daughters and sons of God, against allowing ourselves to become slaves to the flesh. This goes beyond inappropriate behaviors involving eating, drinking and sexual activity. We live in such a consumer-driven culture that it might not occur to us that we are also being warned against the pitfalls of materialism or perhaps just plain selfishness. In these times, when so many are experiencing economic hardship and global disaster threatens, let us thank God for what we have, actively seek ways to help those whose need is greater than ours, and explore a simpler, more neighborly, more earth-friendly lifestyle.
*Lord, teach us that being your children calls for simplicity, sharing and stewardship.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future.
We put off reforming our lives. God is patient, but how long can we procrastinate? Do we really want to find out? Let’s get serious about having something to show as disciples of the Lord. A daily examination of conscience will cultivate our hearts for the repentance we need to show. Gratitude used in a conscious, active way can be good fertilizer for our reform. As we seek God’s will for us each day, surrendering to it and acting upon it in faith, the good fruit for which the Lord looks will surely appear.
*For ongoing conversion that leads to authentic discipleship, we pray.
Friday, October 23, 2009
So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
We may take some comfort in knowing that the great St. Paul was as conflicted as we are in our struggles with sin. But why are we so bad at being good? Paul’s analysis uncovers a principle: Wherever we are, whatever we do, evil lurks around every corner. The struggle between good and evil permeates the cosmos, right down to our own hearts. We must continually rout out evil there as we strive also to do so in the world. Our efforts to do good always will include fighting off discouragement over our own weakness and disappointment over the slowness of our progress.
*For courage, patience and growth in virtue, we pray.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life.
Every choice is a renunciation. Our "Yes" to one thing is "No" to another. We choose a life that is pleasing to God by rejecting one that isn’t. If we are growing in faith and goodness, we should be able to recall some sinful habits, attitudes and behaviors to which we have said "No." Perhaps we have renounced gossip, worry or laziness; perhaps dishonesty, smoking or junk food. Maybe we have adopted kinder ways of relating to others or healthier ways of caring for ourselves, our families and the environment. What still needs our "Yes"?
*For holiness and freedom from sin, we pray.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.
Paul’s talk of slavery may rub us the wrong way. We would rather not be enslaved to anybody or anything. Yet it is an apt description for the kind of hold sin can have on us. And acquiring the marks of a slave — humility and submission to the Master’s will — is also the starting place for a strong commitment to Christ, one we need in order to keep turning away from our sinful inclinations. Enslavement to sin is miserable, even horrific, as it demands our participation in every sort of vice. But the Lord’s mastery is altogether different. His is the easy yoke, the light burden, for he demands only goodness, justice and virtue.
*For a strong commitment to the Lord, we pray.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
But the gift is not like the transgression.
Paul sets up a comparison of Adam with Christ to prove a point: There really is no comparison! Why would we choose disobedience, sin and death when, in Christ, obedience, righteousness and life are an option? When we consider benefit and value, is the death-dealing transgression of sinfulness any match for the gracious gift of God’s salvation and fullness of life in Christ? For all of its seductiveness and power, in the end, sin gets trumped by grace. Still, we have to choose. Which do I want: the wretchedness of a disobedient, sinful life or the peace, love and joy of life in Christ? It’s kind of a no-brainer.
*For prudence to choose good over evil, we pray.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Memorial of North American Jesuit martyrs and their companions, martyrs
But it was not for him alone that it was written that ‘it was credited to him ...’
Faith is a dynamic force that motivates us, opening the door to inspiration and creativity, welcoming revelation. Revelation, in turn, deepens our faith. Moreover, as we share and compare our experience of God in the community of believers, we are drawn deeper yet into divine mystery. Jesus told his disciples that faith can move mountains. He also told people repeatedly that their faith had saved them. As we ponder the value and power of this remarkable gift, may we learn to cultivate and use it with diligence and wisdom.
*May faith impel us, as it did Abraham, toward God’s promise to us — fullness of life in Christ. For vibrant faith, we pray.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Ignatius of Antioch, bishop, martyr
Abraham believed, hoping against hope, that he would become ‘the father of many nations.’
Abraham is the father of many nations as Jews, Christians and Muslims count themselves among his descendants. Why, oh why, can we not behave like brothers and sisters? Let us pray that the children of Abraham may find the path to peace … soon! Lord Jesus, you who came to reveal God’s love for all humankind, help your people find common ground on which all good people can walk together in peace.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Hedwig, religious; Margaret Mary Alacoque, virgin
You are worth more than many sparrows.
This is one of the most comforting lines in scripture, but it is in a not-so-comforting context. Luke tells us not to be afraid of physical suffering and death, not because God will prevent them, but because physical suffering and death is not the ultimate harm. The loss of eternal life — this is the ultimate harm from which God will protect the loyal disciple. Paul speaks in the language of an accountant, no doubt influenced by his work in the tent-making business. It is laughable that we would count credits of virtue in our favor against our debt. If we could only perceive how much we are loved, there would be no counting, only blissful self-forgetfulness.
*Lord Jesus, show me how to love without counting the cost.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
What occasion is there then for boasting?
Today we remember Teresa of Jesus, known to most as Teresa of Avila: 16thcentury mystic, reformer of the Carmelite order and one of only three women recognized as a doctor of the church. Among her writings is a prayer known as her "bookmark" (found after her death on a card in her breviary). It reads: "Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing make you afraid. All things are passing; God alone never changes. Patience gains all things. If you have God, you will want for nothing. God alone suffices." The saintly never boast of their holiness they know too well how much is gift and how far they have to go. In the words of Jesus, "Woe to those of us who imagine ourselves finished with the journey to holiness."
*Lord Jesus, be our Way on the way to holiness.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
By the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself.
This statement from Paul could serve as our daily meditation for a year. Imagine applying to ourselves every criticism we make of others. Whoa! Jesus castigates those who follow every prescription of the law, but fail at compassion. Woe! The modern tendency might be the opposite — professing a "feel-good" version of the Gospel along with a general love for humankind, without expecting much of ourselves in the way of sacrifice. Our goal might be to love each other and demand more of ourselves in our daily practice of worship and care for the poor.
*Lord Jesus, help us to be faithful and genuine in the practice of our faith so that we may come to know you and inspire others.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator.
Paul is condemning idolatry, specifically targeting the Hellenistic (non-Jewish) world. In the Gospel, Jesus denounces the Pharisees and their attention to ritual while ignoring the more important spirit of the law, expressed in giving alms to the poor. This passage should strike fear in all of us. Our generation has idols, too; creatures to which we give our hearts; comforts and causes that define our lives. *
Jesus, be the Lord of our lives and fill up our hearts so that we have no room for any other god.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
You are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Today we begin Paul’s letter to the Romans — his longest letter and most systematic presentation of the Gospel. Paul’s passion comes through, so much so that one wants to shout, "Take a breath!" Lectors would do well to prepare carefully and mark where to breathe because much of this letter is one long run-on sentence. Paul is driven to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to lead everyone to Jesus because he believes — knows! — that all are called. He has no patience for the cautious, much as in today’s Gospel passage we witness Jesus’ impatience with those who seek yet one more sign of his Sonship.
*Jesus, send your Spirit to penetrate our weak-willed, lukewarm, wary and weary ways and set us on fire for your word.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.
We know there are obvious differences between merely hearing and truly listening, and there are even clearer distinctions between just hearing and actually observing what we hear. If we hear God’s word, and really listen, then surely our observance will lead to action. If we fully attend to the word of the Lord and allow it to consume us, we cannot help but assume the posture of discipleship. We must live in love and act in compassion; we must seek justice and offer mercy. How truly blessed we are when we let our actions speak God’s word.
*For ears to hear God’s word and hands to do his work, we pray.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Quite simply — and logically — together we’re better; we’re greater and stronger. With common direction and purpose, we are capable of great and otherwise impossible things. Our division hurts each of us as much as, if not more than those we rebuff. In rejecting any of God’s children, we snub any chance for our own communion with the Lord. We cannot realistically believe that we have unity with the Lord if we refuse to live in harmony with each other.
*That we may join together to do the work of the Lord, we pray.
Friday, October 9, 2009
… how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?
We often agonize over asking others for things. We don’t want to appear needy, pushy or reliant on them. At some point as we mature, however, we realize that we might as well be bold in our requests for things we truly desire because the worst that can happen is that the reply is "No." God knows what we want and recognizes what we really long for before we even ask. In giving voice to our desires — even if we cannot fully articulate them — and turning to the one who truly understands what is good and necessary for us, the Lord will recognize what we need. There is no need to fear asking.
*In gratitude that the loving Father looks beyond the clumsy words of our mouths and answers the yearnings within our hearts, we pray.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
He was praying in a certain place.
Jesus models prayer and teaches his disciples how to pray. Most of us can recall someone of significance guiding us in our prayer lives through both example and instruction. For many, this model of prayer is their mother, and for all of us it can be the mother of our Savior, a model we follow through our devotion to the rosary. The memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary reminds us of the gift experienced through this beautiful prayer. While the feast has its roots in seeking recourse through devotion to the rosary in dire situations, any occasion on which we meditate on the mysteries of Christ is a time of grace.
*In thanksgiving for the gift of the rosary and the power of prayer, we pray.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
There is need of only one thing.
For many, of course, the problem is trying to determine what that one thing is. We get ourselves in a lot of trouble seeking the wrong things or clinging to things, people or beliefs that are detrimental to our best interests. We pose even greater danger to our well-being when we assume that the one thing we need is even a thing at all. Only by simplifying our needs and stripping away what is unnecessary will we come to recognize what we most need in our lives. Don’t be surprised to find that it is not something we can possess; when we attend to the Lord and hear his word, we cannot help but give that word away through our loving discipleship.
*Loving God, guide us with the grace to be still and attend to your word, we pray.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
And who is my neighbor?
We live a series of contradictions. We possess countless technologies to make our world smaller, yet the gulf among peoples, nations, religions and ideologies continually widens. If we are truly to live with compassion and conviction, we must look past the small-minded questions of who our neighbor is and where our boundaries lie. They no longer exist in this global community. We can no longer act as if we do not have any obligations beyond our own front doors or city limits. We cannot live as if no one is our neighbor or our responsibility when television, radio and the Internet continually broadcast news of need and suffering. We have made our world smaller, and with it, our neighborhood and our duty greater.
*To love our neighbors as ourselves, we pray.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Quite simply — and logically — together we’re better; we’re greater and stronger. With common direction and purpose, we are capable of great and otherwise impossible things. Our division hurts each of us as much as, if not more than those we rebuff. In rejecting any of God’s children, we snub any chance for our own communion with the Lord. We cannot realistically believe that we have unity with the Lord if we refuse to live in harmony with each other. That we may join together to do the work of the Lord, we pray.
Posted by ellen at 2:51 PM
Sunday, October 4, 2009
In the animal sacrifices spoken of in the Old Testament, and specifically the fellowship offering, the fat of the animal was always reserved for God. It was never consumed by the priest or by the worshipper. It belonged to God.
This is a principle we can use to help remind us of our need to avoid fat. As you sacrifice fat in your diet, give it to God. Make a point of saying that you gladly sacrifice this part of your food to God so that you can be a temple that is pleasing to Him. He will reward your decision. Your sacrifice will be a sweet-smelling savor to God!
Begin today to give that fat to God, the fat in your foods and the fat in your body. He alone can change you so that you can become all He desires you to be!
The words Jesus spoke to his original disciples apply all the more to us who have received his Holy Spirit and who regularly enjoy his presence in the holy Eucharist and the sacramental life. Moreover, we are his church, "always advancing toward the plenitude of divine truth" (Dei Verbum, paragraph 8). We are the beneficiaries of two millennia of Christian witness, our knowledge of the Lord enhanced and shaped by saints uncounted through whom Jesus continues to build the kingdom. May the abundant blessings of our God empower us to carry forward the mission now entrusted to us.
*For love and zeal to be effective disciples of the Lord, we pray.
Posted by ellen at 6:25 AM
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Most of us were little children when we learned of the Guardian Angels, the special emissaries assigned to watch over each of us, aid us in prayer and represent us before God. As children, we may have offered them our heartfelt prayer: "Ever this day be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule, to guide." But in growing away from the vulnerability and dependence of childhood, we may have lost our affinity for these specially assigned agents of the Lord. Even so, God’s love commits them to us and they have never lost sight of us.
*For gratitude for God’s provident love, care and protection, we pray.
Friday, October 2, 2009
She lived a brief life, much of it in the obscurity of her Carmelite cloister. Yet St. Thérèse of Lisieux (who chose the name Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face), among the most popular of saints, is honored as the universal patroness of missions and, for her keen spiritual insights, as a doctor of the church. Thérèse knew she would never do great deeds, yet she hit upon the very essence of Jesus’ message and mission in making love the sole focus of her vocation. God’s Little Flower demonstrates how all of us can labor for the kingdom’s abundant harvest simply by "doing small things with great love."
*For love in all things, we pray.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
St. Jerome, under the direction of Pope Damasus I, revised the Latin New Testament and the Latin Psalter, and later in life translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Latin. All this before computers! Jerome was an irascible sort who made bitter enemies of those he condemned and alienated fellow Christians with his sarcastic manner. He is honored for his enormous contribution and forgiven for his personal failures. May we each be so blessed?
*St. Jerome, pray for us.