Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sat., Jan. 30: 2 Sam 12:1-7a, 10-17; Mark 4:35-41

Quiet! Be still! With a few simple words, Jesus calms the tempest. We should take note when our own lives are in up­heaval and our personal demons rage within us. We need to let Jesus exercise his might in soothing our internal storms. We need to quiet ourselves, be still and rest assured that the Lord will not allow us to perish.

*For faith that the Lord will save us from the violent squalls of our lives, we pray.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fri., Jan. 29: 2 Sam 11:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17; Mark 4:26-34

With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. The Lord will meet us where we are. There is no intent to confuse or deceive us — no unfath­omable mystery or complicated theology. He speaks simply and directly to us in order to lead us to the kingdom. What would we or the Lord gain from our inability to comprehend his love for us and his purpose for our lives? No matter how insignificant we may feel, the Lord clearly wants us to real­ize that we’re called to be part of the kingdom. Those who get that idea will gain more than they can possibly imagine.

*Lord, help us to grow in understanding, we pray.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thurs., Jan. 28: 2 Sam 7:18-19, 24-29; Mark 4:21-25

Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor

The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. In our consume-and-discard society we’ll eventually face a serious crisis of diminishing resources. One commod­ity that is already lacking from our day-to-day existence is compassion. We may credit ourselves with possessing the gifts of generosity and consideration, but how generous are we, really? What if our Lord returned to us only what we gave to others? What if he held back for fear of not having enough for himself? Times are tough, but certain resources should never be in short supply — love, forgiveness, under­standing, acceptance, patience, justice and mercy. Indeed, the one who has these assets will surely be given more.

*That we may always share the countless and wondrous gifts we have received, we pray.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wed., Jan. 27: 2 Sam 7:4-17; Mark 4:1-20

Angela Merici, virgin

And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no root; they last only for a time.

It’s easy at this time of year to enter the doldrums of our faith life. The excitement of Advent and the Christmas season has passed, and the discipline of Lent still seems far off. At seemingly high points in the liturgical year we have a tendency to regard our faith life like a new and ex­citing romance; however, often a relationship that starts like a whirlwind cools to a comfortable complacency that we take for granted. Jesus encourages us to keep the joy of our faith alive. We cannot leave it untended and expect it to grow. We must recognize every time of year, even so-called Ordinary Time, as the perfect season for God’s word to take root within us.

*Lord, find within us rich soil to sow your word, we pray.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tues., Jan. 26: 2 Tim 1:1-8; Mark 3:31-35

Timothy and Titus, bishops

Who are my mother and my brothers?

So many people seem determined to tear us apart. We can’t turn on the television or radio or open a newspaper without feeling the effects of our national and interna­tional divisions. The 24-hour cable news and the Internet allow for endless programs aimed at separating people. We teach children not to label by color, but we see no disconnect in judgmentally calling states red or blue or people conservative or liberal. It’s easy to question who our mother and brothers are when we can look across the aisle at church and see good folks whom someone constantly paints as our opposition. We need to recognize that people of faith and goodwill labor in many different ways to do the work of God. We may prefer our own ways, but we should have faith that the Lord guides our moth­ers and sisters and brothers to take different paths for the glory of his name. Lord, make us one, we pray.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mon., Jan. 25: Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22; Mark 16:15-18

Conversion of Paul, apostle

I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison. We’re never beyond the power of the Lord’s healing touch.
No matter how far we stray or what wrongs we’ve committed, the Lord seeks to bring us home. Regardless of the darkness of our sin, the Lord’s light can shine in our lives. Even if we’ve been deaf to the cries of those we harm, the Lord will continue to call until we no longer can ignore his voice. We simply need to recognize our failings and, like St. Paul, ask the Lord to guide us in our blindness.

*O Righteous One, speak to us. Help us regain our sight, we pray.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sat., Jan. 23: 2 Sam 1:1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27; Mark 3:20-21

He is out of his mind. Short Gospel today. Calling folks crazy is one way of explaining why they stay faithful, resist temp­tation to follow the crowd, continue to love when love seems hopelessly naive. Another word for it is “saint.”

*For faith that withstands accusation, purity that resists temptation, love that embraces all that is good, we pray.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fri., Jan. 22: 1 Sam 24:3-21; Mark 3:13-19

He appointed the Twelve. Apostolic succession is one of the serious doctrinal issues that is a stumbling block to unity among the churches. It is ironic, but perhaps predictable, that the great unifiers are also the great dividers, the Eu­charist being the most obvious. And yet, many of the differ­ences among the Christian churches are simply a matter of style. We sing different songs, pray using different words, use different books — or no books at all. Dig deeper and we discover the common ground. Today on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision we remember another divider — the issue of abortion. We need to find common ground on the life issues and it seems possible only with God’s grace.

*For wisdom, creativity, humility and charity so that we may together find ways to reverence all life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thurs., Jan. 21: 1 Sam 18:6-9; 19:1-7; Mark 3:7-12

Agnes, virgin, martyr

Unclean spirits saw Jesus and shouted, ‘You are the Son of God.’ Throughout the Gospel of Mark only the demons rec­ognize Jesus. His true identity remains a secret even from his followers and is revealed only when he dies on the cross and the centurion pronounces, “Surely, this man was the Son of God.” We are in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Sometimes we are so involved in our own community’s efforts and squabbles that we forget to pray for unity. Why should we? Because it was among the last wishes of Jesus before he left this earth: “Father, may they all be one.” Our divisions are surely the work of the demons, who recognize that a united church strengthens Jesus’ presence in this world.

*Lord Jesus, we pray with you to the Father: “Make us one.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wed., Jan. 20: 1 Sam 17:32-33, 37, 40-51; Mark 3:1-6

Thus David overcame the Philistine. Like children everywhere, we love stories of the righteous little guy’s triumph over the powerful big guy. The powerful are after Jesus, watching for any misstep. Jesus, grieved by their hardness of heart and despite the danger, still heals on the Sabbath. We are in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Such unity, like world peace, seems an impossible dream. And yet a young boy defeats the Philistine army and Jesus makes his way to Calvary, only to rise to new life.

*For the impossible: for the unity of Christians and the success of our common efforts for a peaceful world, we pray.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tues., Jan. 19: 1 Sam 16:1-13; Mark 2:23-28

Why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?

Occasionally Jesus set aside lesser laws in order to put into practice a higher law. We have a duty to imitate Jesus, but with the same single-mindedness and purity of heart. Jesus didn’t thumb his nose at religious authority. He was not a rebel, but one whose heart and mind were so attuned to the truth that he could only do what was right and just. There are situations where we find ourselves struggling with this conflict between lesser and higher laws. One that occurs to me is in the area of immigration. Aren’t some of the so-called “illegals” obeying a higher law of providing for their children? Can we fault them?

*For pure hearts and honest minds and God’s own wisdom so that we may always live out the higher law of love.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mon., Jan. 18: 1 Sam 15:16-23; Mark 2:18-22

New wine … old wineskins. Those of us accustomed to drink­ing a $3 bottle of Shiraz may find this image confusing. New wine will ferment and burst the old, stretched wine­skin. You need a new wineskin that will stretch with the expanding wine. Today in the United States we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It might be well to remember two things: 1. there are people who have only recently experi­enced a liberal activist Christianity. We should remind them that the civil rights movement was a Christian-inspired cru­sade against racism and included thousands of Catholics marching in the ranks. 2. It is not enough to change the law. The “new wine” of the Civil Rights Act was once too much for the “old wineskins” of our institutions, leaving us confused, resentful and scared. We cried, “What more can we do?” We stretched and we hurt, but it is more and more common for people of different heritages to join together, including in the White House. Where do we confront today’s new wine and old wineskins? Health care reform?

*For the generosity and strength to bear the burden of our convictions, we pray.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sat., Jan. 16: 1 Sam 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1a; Mark 2:13-17

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. When we look at our world, our city, our church, our family and even our­selves, we may be tempted either to the sin of presumption (I don’t have to do anything. God will fix it) or that of despair (It can’t be fixed). Our pride is at the basis of both these wrong attitudes. We do not want to accept what we are — sinners who are incapable of making things right on our own, yet sinners who are so loved by God that we are called and empowered to be the Lord’s instruments in the healing of the world and its people.

*Lord, shed your light on us so that we may see both our great need and your greater love.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fri., Jan. 15: 1 Sam 8:4-7, 10-22a; Mark 2:1-12

They are rejecting me as their king. Those who stray from the Lord and the church often say it’s because they want to be “free” — free from rules and restrictions that they think will keep them from having total control of their lives (as if we ever had total control). If that sounds tempting, recall the saying: “Be careful what you wish for; you might get it!” Time and again, we try to remake God’s will into a more comfortable fit. Time and again, God gently leads us back through the scriptures and the church to the basic truth that in God’s rule and kingdom is our peace, our salvation and our protection from devastating harm.

*Lord, teach me that in your will is my peace and the peace of all the earth

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thurs., Jan. 14: 1 Sam 4:1-11; Mark 1:40-45

‘If you wish, you can make me clean.’ Jesus replied, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’ Jesus was “moved with pity” by the leper’s plea not only for physical healing, but for the freedom to re­join his fellow Israelites and to be shunned no longer. Jesus wants to heal us from whatever keeps us from full com­munion with the church. Notice that Jesus commanded the leper, as the final step of his healing, to do what the Law of Moses required. If we are separated from our fellow wor­shipers by an attitude, a sin or an estrangement from the community — even from one of its members.

*let us seek the resolution of this impediment to unity through coun­seling, repentance, confession and reconciliation. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wed., Jan. 13: 1 Sam 3:1-10, 19-20; Mark 1:29-39

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. We can get so in­volved in proclaiming and working for God’s kingdom on earth that we become too busy to spend quiet time with the Lord in prayer and reflection. The Gospels tell us that Jesus withdrew from the demands of public life to pray and took his closest disciples with him to do the same. Our time of prayer must lead to love and service for our brothers and sisters or else it becomes a comforting fantasy. On the other hand, without frequent refreshment in prayer, we lose touch with the Lord and our true work of collaboration in building God’s kingdom in our lives.

*Lord, open our eyes to human need, our ears to your word and our hearts to ever-greater love.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tues., Jan. 12: 1 Sam 1:9-20; Mark 1:21-28

He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.

In Jesus’ time, people believed that sickness of mind or body was caused by an evil spirit and was often due to the sufferer’s sins, or even those of their parents. Today we depend on the discoveries of science, but it doesn’t change the fact that those who suffer, and their loved ones, are still focused on seeking a cure. We should remember that Je­sus’ healing power is still with us, actualized through the work of those trained to deal with disorders of body, mind or spirit. We cooperate with their help while we continue to trust and praise our Lord. A wise doctor of my acquaintance has a framed proverb hanging above his desk that reads: “I treat. God heals.”

*Lord, heal us and help the healers who are your instruments.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mon., Jan. 11: 1 Sam 1:1-8; Mark 1:14-20

The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel. These words might make us think that Lent has ar­rived early, although the call to repentance and faith is a constant in the Christian life. The post-holiday blahs and midwinter doldrums are here. This is a good time to wake up and invigorate our spiritual lives by taking a quick inven­tory of our relationship with the Lord. We can ask ourselves: Have the holidays so upset my schedule that I’ve neglected prayer and meditation? Has holiday spending so exceeded my means that I’ve decided to economize by cutting back on donations to those in need? Let us restore sanity and balance to our lives by remembering that Christ’s call to ho­liness, generosity and love is always in season.

*Speak, Lord, your servant is listening

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sat., Jan. 9: 1 John 5:14-21; John 3:22-30

Children, be on your guard against idols. I must admit I was a bit shocked by the name of the show “American Idol” when it premiered in 2002. Talent-search shows were noth­ing new and the show itself didn’t bother me so much, but its name seemed such a brazen rejection of biblical injunc­tions against idolatry. Of course, our audacious adulation of pop stars and celebrities today also has subtler coun­terparts. We surround ourselves with golden calves — so much electronic gadgetry, so many ways to entertain our­selves, so much time given to vain pursuits, time we might otherwise give to God in worship and service. What are my idols?

*How can I say no to them and yes to God? For the grace always to put God first in our lives, we pray

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fri., Jan. 8: 1 John 5:5-13; Luke 5: 12-16

Who is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? In a world where vice of every sort still abounds, it’s easy for Christians to get worked up. Indeed, when we look at the world, we may see so many things that stand in opposition to what we value that we feel defeated rather than victorious. After much talk about the marvelous love we share with God and one another through Jesus, John now speaks of faith and its power in our lives. Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus has won our salvation, and through our faith in him, his victory over sin and death is our victory.

*For faith that emboldens us to face every trial with confidence, we pray.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thurs., Jan. 7: 1 John 4:19–5:4; Luke 4:14-22a

This is the commandment we have from him: Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. God’s love is generative and organic, inspiring us to love all things in turn. To know God is to love all that God loves and has created. Yet we fool ourselves into thinking otherwise. We make ex­cuses; we see others as not measuring up, not deserving love. We judge their behavior in order to rationalize and jus­tify our own unloving behavior. But there really is no way around it: God has commanded that we love one another, no matter what. Let us distinguish the sin from the sinner when our brothers and sisters behave badly and see that this, in fact, is when they most need for us to be channels of God’s love.

*For the grace to love those who are hard to love, we pray.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wed., Jan. 6: 1 John 4:11-18; Mark 6:45-52

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.

Fear would seem to be the antithesis of love. Yet fear does have its function. It is a built-in protection mechanism, our innate, common-sense response to danger. But too often we don’t know what to do with fear. We get bogged down in it. We let it fester and morph into anxiety or depression. Adding to our trou­ble, people play on our fears, magnifying real dangers and manufacturing false ones. Let us use fear as it was intended, by taking it directly to the One who protects us from all harm and gives us con­fidence to face every threat.

*For the love that drives out fear, we pray.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tues., Jan. 5: 1 John 4:7-10; Mark 6:34-44

St. John Neumann, bishop

In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us.

When I hike in the woods, I often recall the instruction a retreat director gave when he sent his retreatants out to take in the beauty of the retreat center grounds. “Don’t even try to love the Lord,” he would tell them. His hope was that instead they would attend fully to the experience of being loved by God. To give love generously, as God does, we need first to know God, the starting place of all love. When we know deeply, in our bones, how very much our God loves us, our love for others is both natural and spontaneous.

*For deep, abiding knowledge of God’s love for us, we pray.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mon., Jan. 4: 1 John 3:22–4:6; Matt 4:12-17, 23-25

Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God. In The Holy Longing, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser calls the Incarnation the most “under­understood” of Christian mysteries. The Incarnation was not “a one-shot incur­sion by God into human history.” Rather, it is ongoing, an ever-unfolding mys­tery: God, in the flesh, ever accessible to us now in the community of believers, the body of Christ. The fuller grasp of this mystery is, perhaps, what sets saints apart from the rest of us. Jesus Christ come in the flesh filled St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s mind and heart. But more than this, it permeated her words and her actions. She saw Christ in others; she acted as Christ toward them.

*May we do likewise. For a fuller understanding of God’s marvelous love, we pray.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sat., Jan. 2: 1 John 2:22-28; John 1:19-28

Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and doctors

And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.

At this time of year we make many resolutions and implement changes in our lives for self-improvement. So there’s no better time to make or renew our com­mitment to live in confidence that Jesus is the Christ. We can resolve to reject lies and to denounce those would deceive us. As we enter into new beginnings, we look to what has been true and what we’ve known from the beginning.

*That we may resolve to live what is true, to be faithful to what we have been taught and to remain in him always, we pray.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Thurs., Dec. 31: 1 John 2:18-21; John 1:1-18

To those who did accept [Jesus] he gave the power to become children of God. Ring out the old; ring in the new! This is traditionally a time to make resolutions, which often involve rooting out a bad habit and replacing it with … what? Often we have no good habit in mind. Let us resolve that in the year to come we will begin each day with a brief prayer, turning our lives over to the Lord and asking for the grace to grow more fully into a son or daughter of God. It sounds safe and simple, but — Beware! God’s delight at our request might lead to quite an adventure.

*Lord, take me as I am; form me into what you want me to be.

Fri., Jan. 1: Num 6:22-27; Gal 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21

Mary, Mother of God

The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

The words the Lord offers Moses to bless the Israelites are appropriate for all of us as we embark on this new year. The Hebrew word for peace suggests hap­piness and prosperity. The blessing gives us gentle and comforting images of the Lord smiling and looking kindly on us — of the Lord’s face shining upon us. How God’s face must have shone on Mary when he entrusted her to bear his son! This year, let’s resolve to look gratefully upon the many gifts and blessings we’ve received and to offer a confident yes to every opportunity we have to serve the Lord. Let our actions reflect our desire to bring a smile to God’s face.

*May we praise and glorify God and live each day in amazement at the power and wonders of our Lord, we pray.