Author Archives: Gus Lloyd

Hitler in Heaven?

We have two very interesting readings today. The first reading from Judges 9 is about trees ruling over each other. Except it’s not about trees at all. It’s about how sometimes those in leadership are not the cream of the crop. Sound familiar?

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 20, Jesus tells a parable about a landowner who hires people at different times of the day. At the end of the day, they all receive the same wage. The folks who labored all day were naturally put off. They felt it was unjust that those who worked only a short time should receive the same as they. The landowner asks, “Are you envious because I am generous?” The gist of the story is that it’s never too late to answer the call into the Kingdom. Some come early, some come late – even on their deathbed.

While the Catholic Church has assured the faithful that certain people are in heaven (saints), the Church has never declared that anyone is in hell. She leaves that up to God. If the world exploded today and all humanity went to their eternal reward, would you be surprised to see Hitler in heaven? Or Donald Trump? Or Barack Obama? Or your ex? Or the person who abused your child? Or (fill in the blank with the person you detest the most)? If you did see them there, would you be angry? (Trick question. If you’re angry, you’re not in heaven!) We all have until our last breath. Instead of fixating on who else gets in, let’s make sure we’re answering the call into the Kingdom today.

Father, we accept your invitation to repent, to love, to forgive, to go to work for the Kingdom. Help us to invite others to do the same. Amen.

Today’s Readings

 

The Queenship of Mary

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You won’t hear special readings for this feast, though the prayers in the Mass reference this. So today’s readings are for Tuesday in the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time. This feast comes one week after the Assumption. It is such an important principle that I want to help you understand and explain it. So, following is a chapter from A Minute in the Church Volume II.

Mary – Queen of Heaven

The Catholic Church refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Queen of Heaven. “How can this be?” say the detractors. “Jesus is our King and He never married. So how can there be a queen?” A look into the Scriptures tells the story.

Jesus came to sit on the throne of David for eternity. In the Davidic kingdom, there was a throne at the right of the king’s throne that was reserved for the queen. Only here, it was not reserved for any wife of the king, but for the king’s mother.

We see this in 1 Kings 2:19 – “Then Solomon sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right.” This throne for the Queen Mother was a fixture in the kingdom of David. Throughout 1 and 2 Kings, as each new king ascends to the throne of David, the Queen Mother is listed. As Jesus occupies His throne in heaven, the fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom, so His mother, Mary, sits on a throne at His right.

In 1 Kings 2:20, the Queen Mother wishes to ask her son a favor. “Ask it, my mother,” the king said to her, “for I will not refuse you.” This is why Catholics seek the intercession of Mary. Jesus will never refuse His mother.

For further study

1 Kings 2:19-20

As mentioned, the Queen Mothers are listed throughout 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles

Holy Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, amen.

Today’s Readings

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Be Careful What You Ask

In the first reading from Judges 2, we see that the people turned away from God. The consequences were not pleasant. “[God] allowed them to fall into the power of their enemies…Whatever they undertook, the LORD turned into disaster for them…”

The Gospel reading is one that I hope is familiar from Matthew 19. Jesus encounters a rich young man, who asks what he must do to gain eternal life. Jesus answers, “Keep the commandments.” The rich young man’s final retort is telling. “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus’ answer is a lesson in “Be careful what you ask.”

What do I still lack? The rich young man could have let Jesus’ first answer stand. But he wanted to make sure that he was doing all he could. So he took it to the final step. It is a dangerous question – yet one we must ask every day. Lord, what do I still lack? Like the rich young man, our answer may be difficult to accept and (as is the case with me) a very long list. But if we wish to press on in the spiritual life, we must hear and obey.

Father, what do I still lack? Help me to listen to your answer and follow your will however difficult it may be. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Instant Gratification?

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 15, we see a model of persistence.

A Canaanite woman comes to Jesus and asks Him to heal her daughter. Jesus ignores her. After some prodding from the disciples, He tells the woman no. She asks again. Jesus again refuses her request. Rather than getting discouraged and leaving, the woman persists in her plea. And Jesus grants her prayer because of her faith and persistence.

We live in such a time of instant gratification, don’t we? If we have the means, we can have almost anything we want with just the click of a mouse, or the swipe of a plastic card. Our mantra is, “I want what I want and I want it now!” But God is not like Amazon or Walmart or Mastercard. His timing is always perfect, regardless of how fast we think He should work.

Father, forgive us for being such petulant little children. May we always be persistent in prayer and wait patiently for your perfect will to unfold. Amen.

Today’s Readings

 

Decide Whom You Will Serve

We have a very short Gospel reading today. But as always, it is packed. Jesus says, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” This is why Catholics baptize their infants. We “let them come to Christ” from their earliest days.

In the first reading from Joshua 24, Joshua enjoins the people to make a choice. “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two masters. Every day, we have to make the same choice that Joshua told the people of his time to make. Now, our gods may not be the gods of the Amorites, but I can assure you there are plenty of other gods that folks today serve – money, power, prestige, sex and fame to name a few. And at any given moment, we can choose one or the other. But you can’t have it both ways. So, who will you serve today? As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Father, help us to serve you always. Help us to turn away from the other gods that offer up attractive but empty promises. Amen.

Today’s Readings

 

On Marriage

In the first reading today from Joshua 24, Joshua gives the people a bit of a history lesson. This is pretty common, as people need to be reminded from time to time about the marvelous things God has done for them. That was true then, and still is today.

In the Gospel reading from Matthew 19, we see Jesus’ teachings on marriage. He quotes Genesis – For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh – and then speaks of the indissolubility of marriage. This was difficult for Jesus’ listeners at the time, and may be even more so today. Why?

Our idea of marriage has become so skewed. We often use only “happiness” as a litmus test for whether or not things are working out, whether we want to stay married or not. (Please remember this is a great generalization. Statistics would say that half the people reading this have been divorced, and I’m sure each of them probably feel justified. I am passing no judgment here.) No-fault divorce has been a scourge on the family. Having just celebrated my 37th anniversary, I can assure you that marriage takes lots of work. When we put God at the center of our lives and our marriages, we increase our odds of success, and happiness, exponentially. If you’re married, pray together as a couple. And whether you’re married or not, please pray for all marriages.

Father, be close to married couples. Give them strength, patience, love, forgiveness and all they need to be a witness to your love and grace always. Amen.

Today’s Readings

 

Exercising Our Forgiveness Muscles

In today’s first reading from Joshua 3, we see a miracle that rivals the parting of the Red Sea. Do you know about it? Read it!  And in the Gospel reading (Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus tells Peter he must forgive “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Jesus then goes on to tell the story of a man who failed to forgive after being forgiven. It didn’t end well for that guy.

Having mercy and forgiveness for others can be a real trick for us, can’t it? Have you ever heard the saying, “We want justice for everyone else and mercy for ourselves.” How true that is. When Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive as many as seven times, I’m sure he thought he was being quite magnanimous. But, once again, Jesus sets conventional wisdom on its ear.

Forgiving even once can be a monumental task. But forgiving is much like exercising. The more we do it, the easier it becomes. So let’s exercise our forgiveness muscles today. Think of that one person that you find it hardest to forgive. Then make the decision to forgive them. And do it again, and again, and again, and again.

Father, thank you for your mercy and endless forgiveness. Help us to be more like you today and tomorrow and the next day and the next…

Today’s Readings

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Gathered in His Name

Today we read about the death of Moses. It has been fascinating reading about his life and times. As I’ve mentioned many times, no on had a relationship with God quite like Moses. And today’s passage from Deuteronomy 34 reminds us of that. “Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He had no equal…” Until, of course, Jesus, who is called “The New Moses.”

In our Gospel reading today from Matthew 18, Jesus gives the Twelve the ability to bind and loose. Ancient rabbinic literature tells us that this notion of binding and loosing was the ability to teach authoritatively. Jesus says this same thing to Peter in Matthew 16. This is where we get the notion of the Magisterium of the Church – the Pope acting in concert with the Bishops. Each has the authority to bind and loose, meaning they are the teaching authority in their own diocese, and together they exercise this authority in the universal Church.

Jesus also talks today about praying. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Jesus is made present to us in many ways. And communal prayer is powerful. This is one of the reasons why we, as Catholics, are obligated to go to Mass on Sundays. Can we pray on our own? Certainly. But praying together as a community brings Jesus to us in a special way. So, grab someone’s hand and offer up a prayer today!

Father, we thank you for the presence of Jesus whenever we gather together to pray. Help us to remain faithful to communal prayer. Amen.

Today’s Readings

You can learn about many different prayers and devotions in A Minute in the Church: Life in Christ. Get a copy today at www.GusLloyd.com.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a Holy Day of Obligation. There is so much to this feast that I couldn’t possibly fit it into one short reflection. I will share with you a chapter from my book A Minute in the Church Volume II that helps explain this belief.

Assumption of Mary I

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary, “when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory.” (CCC 966) We call it the Assumption. This dogma of the Church was pronounced definitively by Pope Pius XII in 1950. Where is the evidence for this? In the liturgy for the Assumption, we read from Revelation 12 where St. John talks about the woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” and how she “had a place prepared by God.”

The Catechism says that “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.” (CCC 966) In other words, Mary, as the first Christian, is rightly the first to participate in the resurrection of the body that we believe we will all participate in. This is not something that Mary did on her own. She did not ascend into heaven. She couldn’t. Rather, our loving God saw fit to reward the Mother of God “so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” (CCC 966)

For further study:

Revelation 11:19-12:6

CCC 966-972

Today’s Readings

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For Your Own Good

Our Gospel reading today recounts what I think may be Jesus’ coolest miracle. (I know, I know…I shouldn’t “grade” the miracles of our Lord. But this one is very cool!) The collectors of the temple tax want to get what’s coming to them from Jesus. So Jesus tells Peter to go out and catch a fish. “Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.” Imagine that!

In the first reading today from Deuteronomy 10, Moses asks the people a question. “What does the Lord, your God, ask of you?” He then answers the question, “…but to fear the Lord, your God, and follow his ways exactly, to love and serve the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord which I enjoin on you today for your own good.”

If you ask the question “What does God ask of you?”, you’ll probably get as many answers as the number of people you ask. Jesus lets us know. Carry your cross. Follow Jesus. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others. All hard stuff, no? Maybe the better question is Why? Why does God ask these things of us? Moses gives the answer. For your own good. You see, too many people see God as some being that takes some kind of macabre pleasure in making people’s lives miserable. Hardly! God is a loving Father. God always wants what is best for you. Sometimes the things God asks of us are difficult, but always for a reason. It is always for our own good.

Father, thank you for loving us enough to always have our best interest in mind. May we always do your will, for our own good. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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