We get a real glimpse of the merciful heart of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading from Luke 7. Jesus comes upon a funeral procession of a young man who was the only child of a widow. Out of compassion and without being asked, Jesus raises the man from the dead. Imagine that!
In the first reading today from 1 Corinthians 12, St. Paul says, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” He then goes on to explain how different people are given different gifts. All of them must use their gift in service to the body of Christ.
The Church is like any organization. There are many different people with many different talents, personalities and temperaments. Sometimes it can be tough to get along. Invariably there will be people who will annoy us. That is when we really need to seek out their giftedness. We must love them and realize that they are doing their best to make their contribution to the Kingdom of God. As we use our gifts, let us look for the gifts in others.
Father, may we always use the gifts you have given us in service to the Kingdom, as parts of the one body. Help us to encourage others to use their gifts as well. Amen.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The first reading is for Monday of the twenty-fourth week in Ordinary Time. In it, St. Paul recounts what Jesus said at the Last Supper. How can that be? St. Paul wasn’t at the Last Supper. Read it and see.
The Church gives parishes an option of two different readings for the Gospel. The first is from John 19, the scene at the foot of the cross where Jesus gives his mother to John. The other is from Luke 2 where Simeon tells Mary, “you yourself a sword will pierce,” prophesying about her coming sorrows.
I think that one of the hardest things in the world is for a parent to bury their child. My mother has now had to bury two of her children. I’ve seen first hand how painful this is. How much greater must Mary’s sorrow have been? Watching her only son, who she knew was the innocent and holy Son of God, brutally beaten, scorned, laughed at, spit upon and left to die on a cross. Even if she knew God’s big grand plan, the hurt must have been immense. So, whenever you feel great sorrow, ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows. She knows what you’re going through.
Father, thank you for giving Mary the strength to endure so many hardships. Through her intercession, may we do the same with the same grace. Amen.
Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In the first reading today from Numbers 21, we see a bit of typology. God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. Whenever someone looked at it, they would be healed of their bite from a serpent. This was a foreshadowing of the cross of Christ. In fact, Jesus mentions this very passage in today’s Gospel reading from John 3.
Isn’t it interesting how God works? When the children of Israel were bitten by a serpent, they needed only to look up at the bronze serpent lifted up on a pole and they would be healed. Then, in the course of time, we, when bitten by the serpent (read: the devil) would be able to look up at the Son of Man lifted up on a pole and be healed.
It seems that these days the cross has become so sanitized. But the cross of Christ wasn’t pretty. It was rough, dirty, bloodied. Probably much like the cross that you may be carrying. But that’s OK. Because you are carrying it nonetheless. It may be heavy, and at times seem unbearable. But carry on, my friend! We must remember, whenever we carry our cross, we are imitating Christ Himself.
Father, we thank you for the cross. For the cross of Christ, and for our own crosses. As Jesus carried His cross, give us the strength to carry ours. Amen.
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 6, Jesus says, “Every tree is known by its fruit.” He then talks about building our house on a firm foundation. When Christ is not our foundation, our “house” is destined to fall.
In the first reading from 1 Corinthians 10, St. Paul speaks about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?”
As Catholics, we understand St. Paul to be speaking of the Eucharist. So the answer to each of his questions is a resounding YES! The cup IS a participation in the Blood of Christ. And the bread IS a participation in the Body of Christ. And just as St. Paul and the Corinthians participated in the Body and Blood, so do we nearly 2000 years later. Praise God!
Father, we thank you for the Body and Blood of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist. May we partake often, that we may live and serve you. Amen.
For many, sports is their religion. Interestingly, St. Paul used sports analogies when talking about religion. More in a moment. In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 6, Jesus talks about how easy it is for us to point out the sins in others without recognizing our own faults and failings. “You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”
The spiritual life is very much like the life of an athlete. Athletes train; they practice their sport day in and day out to become the best they can be, and remain sharp. In the first reading today from 1 Corinthians 9, St. Paul says, “Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.” Athletes know that practice makes perfect.
This same principle applies to the spiritual life. If we don’t practice our faith – through prayer, charity, fasting, learning – we won’t make any progress. We won’t become all that God desires us to become. Why settle for second? When it comes to that imperishable crown, we should be in it to win it!
Father, give us the determination to practice our faith – to be the best that we can be. Amen.
Is it better to be smart, or to love? I think we all know the answer to that, right? In the opening verse of our first reading today from 1 Corinthians 8, St. Paul says it like this: “Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.”
Today’s Gospel reading from Luke 6 is one of the most difficult in all of Scripture. Not difficult to understand; it is quite simple, really – but difficult to live out. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
We’re so often harsh in what we measure out others. Yet we expect God to treat us differently. We judge others harshly, but expect God to judge us lightly. We condemn others, but expect God to go easy on us. We refuse to forgive, yet we expect forgiveness. We’re stingy with others, but we expect God to be generous with us. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. God is a just judge, and the scales of justice will balance out.
Father, we’re so sorry for how harsh we are with others. Help us today to be loving, compassionate and merciful. Amen.
In 1 Corinthians 7 today, St. Paul warns his readers that “time is running out.” This world is passing away. He warns them to use what time is left fruitfully. In the Gospel today from Luke 6, we begin the Sermon on the Plain.
Luke 6 records the same sermon that, in Matthew’s Gospel is called the Sermon on the Mount. Only in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gives this sermon on a plain. There are just a few minor differences. And today we see one. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gives the Beatitudes and moves on. But Luke records Jesus giving the Beatitudes, then what I call the “anti-Beatitudes.” The Beatitudes all begin with “Blessed are…” But Luke records Jesus following those up with sayings that all begin with “Woe to you…”
This part of the Sermon on the Plain reminds us that all is not as it seems. When bad things in the eyes of the world come (poverty, hunger, grieving), God can bring about good. Conversely, when good things come, there can be a down side as well. The key is to seek God’s will in all of these things.
Father, forgive us for those times when we seek only worldly goods. Help us to remember that things are not always as they seem. Amen.
In the Gospel reading today from Luke 6, we see that Jesus spent the night in prayer. The next day, He called His disciples and told them that He had chosen Twelve, whom He also named Apostles. In the first reading from 1 Corinthians 6, St. Paul talks about judgement, and Christians treating one another unjustly.
St. Paul says, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be.” Isn’t it interesting that Paul makes no delineation between these sins. He doesn’t say that one is any worse than another. All of these grave sins separate us from God.
As I look at St. Paul’s laundry list, it pains me to think that I used to engage in more than a few of those behaviors. But St. Paul also reminds his readers that those are things of the past. That is what you used to be. Unfortunately, old habits die hard. The lure of the old self often sings its siren song. Come on! Once more for old time’s sake! We must resist those temptations, strong though they may be. And the only way we can do that is by relying on the strength supplied by Christ.
Father, you know how easily we can be drawn back into our old ways. Help us to keep our minds fixed on Jesus, as we move toward Him with steely determination. Amen.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary…Mary’s birthday! Now, we don’t really know the exact day, date or year that Mary was born. We really don’t even know where she was born. In fact, we have no certainty at all about the details of Mary’s life before the Annunciation. Some people scoff at that. But the details are not really important. The important thing is that Mary was born, chosen from all time to be the Mother of the Savior.
The Church has always held Mary in the highest regard. Many non-Catholics hold a different view. They see any honor given to Mary as honor taken away from Christ. But this a flawed attitude. The men who began the Reformation, Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, all had a great devotion to Mary. It was only later that those who followed them began to “discredit” Mary.
I always like to put it this way: When I was young, my best friend was Paul. Paul and I were so close that we were like family. One year they had a big party for Paul’s mom’s birthday. By attending that party and honoring Paul’s mom, was I taking away from my relationship with Paul? Of course not! Quite the opposite! I became even closer to Paul and felt more a part of his family. That’s the way it is with us and Mary. We join with Jesus in celebrating His mom’s birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mom!
Father, as we honor and celebrate Mary, may we be ever more deeply drawn into the family of Jesus. Amen.
Want to know more about Mary and how to explain Catholic teachings and practices about her? Get my hour-long CD on Marian Beliefs, available on CD or digital download at www.GusLloyd.com.
The second reading today from Romans 13 begins with this: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Seems there’s a lot of talk about debt these days. National debt and personal debt. Debt is generally not a good thing. It means that we are beholden to someone. But St. Paul here is not necessarily talking about the “evils” of debt. Rather, he is saying that we really only owe one thing to our fellow human beings: love.
Have you ever cut ties with someone? Maybe a friend or relative or business associate that did you wrong. You may have settled up an account or a score and said something like, “I’m done with them. I don’t owe them a thing!” If so, you would be wrong. You owe them love. Now, how that manifests itself only you can say. But to all of our brothers and sisters, we owe a debt of love.
Father, as we love you, help us to love one another. Amen.