Sunday, February 23, 2014


7th Sunday Ordinary Time

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18, 1 Corinthians 3:16-23, Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13, Matthew 5:38-48
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"But what I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury." -Matthew 5:39

Jesus sounds so naive. Everybody knows we must resist injury. Jesus says that after we've been hit on one cheek, we should turn the other. We'll get killed if we take His advice. However, the Sermon on the Mount is not "advice"; it is the Lord's command. Yet we rationalize that Jesus' message in the Sermon on the Mount is poetic, symbolic, anything but literal.

Sometimes Jesus does not speak literally, as when He said to gouge out our eye (Mt 5:29). So we're tempted to assume the Sermon on the Mount, especially this part of it, must not be literal. However, Jesus did literally turn the other cheek, hand over His garments and walk the extra mile (Mt 5:39-41), even up Mount Calvary to be crucified.

If we deny that the Sermon on the Mount is literal, we may be denying that we must imitate the crucified Christ. Jesus is literally calling us to a radically different lifestyle. Following Jesus is not just a modification of a worldly life but an utterly new way to live.

Will you decide to be a Christian on Jesus' terms - not as other people are, not as you want, but as He wills? Accept the Preacher and the preaching of the Sermon on the Mount.

Prayer: Jesus, it's impossible to be a Christian without Your constant amazing grace. Pour out the Holy Spirit upon me (Rm 5:5) and give me the grace to receive in docility.

Promise: "For the wisdom of this world is absurdity with God." -1 Cor 3:19

Praise: Praise the risen Jesus, the only Way to the Father (Jn 14:6). Alleluia!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Chair of St. Peter

1 Peter 5:1-4, Psalm 23:1-6, Matthew 16:13-19
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"On this rock I will build My church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it." -Matthew 16:18

At the Masses of Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, all the Catholics of the world will be asked to renew their baptismal promises. The last of the baptismal promises is: "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy, catholic Church?", etc. When we renew our baptismal promises, we acknowledge that we were baptized in one Spirit into one body, the Church (1 Cor 12:13). In baptism, we have committed ourselves to remain faithful to one another as members of the body of Christ. Thus, we are obligated to celebrate Mass each Sunday with the other members of Christ's body, and to go to Confession annually to be reconciled with the Church. We must also pray for, support, serve, and obey the Church. Moreover, it is not an option for a Catholic to join another Christian denomination or religion. This would be denying our baptismal promises.
Do you love the Church as Jesus loves the Church? If you are to make the last baptismal promise, you must be willing to lay down your life for her (Eph 5:25). In baptism, we have made the commitment to love the Church unconditionally, even when it is most unlovable. This is humanly impossible, but the Holy Spirit, Who birthed the Church, will give us the grace to love the Church. In the power of the Spirit, love the Church and live the new life through baptism.

Prayer: Father, may I grieve over those who have left the Church. Give me confidence that You will lead them back.

Promise: "God's flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd's care. Watch over it willingly as God would have you do, not under constraint; and not for shameful profit either, but generously." -1 Pt 5:2

Praise: St. Peter imitated Jesus in his ministry and in crucifixion, leaving a strong example for later popes (see 1 Pt 2:21ff).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


James 1:12-18, Psalm 94:12-15, 18-19, Mark 8:14-21
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"When cares abound within me, Your comfort gladdens my soul." -Psalm 94:19

Jesus taught that one of the problems preventing people from understanding the Word of God is the cares and anxieties of this world. These many cares invade our mind and choke the Word in us, which then bears no fruit (Mk 4:19). Many of us are like Martha. We work hard and take responsibility for our actions. However, we "are anxious and upset about many things" (Lk 10:41). The cares of this world do not stop; they bombard us relentlessly.
Today's psalm response is great advice for living amidst a myriad of cares. "When cares abound within" us, we are to focus on God and the comfort that He offers (Ps 94:19; see also Is 40:1). God's comfort gladdens our soul, particularly when cares pile up. His Word commands us: "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you" (1 Pt 5:7). However, we must turn to God, not to the cares.
You can't hold onto both your cares and His comfort. Cast your cares at the feet of Jesus, and do not reel them back in. Your cares won't make you glad, but His comfort definitely will.

Prayer: Father, I know that my fears about my problems and cares are useless (Mk 5:36). "Help my lack of trust" (Mk 9:24) so that I may embrace Your comfort and never let it go.

Promise: "Every worthwhile gift, every genuine benefit comes from above, descending from the Father." -Jas 1:17

Praise: Fr. Bernard is blind. However, Jesus opens his eyes daily just before he celebrates the Mass. After Mass, he is once again unable to see.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Founders of the Order of Servites

James 1:1-11, Psalm 119:67-68, 71-72, 75-76, Mark 8:11-13
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"With a sigh from the depths of His spirit He said, 'Why does this age seek a sign?' " -Mark 8:12

Jesus drove out demons, cured the leprous; healed the paralyzed, handicapped, hemorrhaging, and deaf; raised the dead, calmed a storm, walked on the water, and multiplied loaves and fish, among other miracles, signs, and wonders. Then "the Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Him. They were looking for some heavenly sign from Him as a test" (Mk 8:11). Jesus sighed from the depths of His spirit (Mk 8:12) and was understandably frustrated.
Likewise, the apostles did not grasp the meaning of Jesus' miracles, including the double multiplication of the loaves. Jesus expressed His frustration with a barrage of questions: "Do you still not see or comprehend? Are your minds completely blinded? Have you eyes but no sight? Ears but no hearing?" (Mk 8:17-18) "Do you still not understand?" (Mk 8:21)
Despite His frustration, Jesus worked another sign by healing a blind man at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-25). Jesus met the unreasonable demands of the Pharisees and also continued to work with the apostles who He knew would eventually abandon Him.
Jesus is merciful. He doesn't give up on us, no matter how sinful or shameful our behavior. No matter if everyone else gives up on us, Jesus keeps loving us and trying to transform us (see Is 49:15). Jesus always forgives us and will in no way reject us (Jn 6:37). Jesus is so merciful that He died on the cross in our place. Lord Jesus, mercy.

Prayer: "Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner" (the Jesus Prayer).

Promise: "Count it pure joy when you are involved in every sort of trial." -Jas 1:2

Praise: The Servites serve their Lady and their Lord by serving their brothers and sisters. Their seven founders lived lives of gospel poverty and shared Christian community.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


6th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sirach 15:15-20, 1 Corinthians 2:6-10, Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34, Matthew 5:17-37
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"You have heard the commandment, 'You shall not commit adultery.' What I say to you is: anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts.' " -Matthew 5:27-28

Jesus did not believe in working on the sabbath, but He did cause a controversy by healing on the sabbath. He was also not ultra-strict about washing His hands before eating (see Mt 15:2). Moreover, Jesus did not require His disciples to fast until after He ascended into heaven (see Mt 9:14ff). He also stopped an adulteress from being put to death (Jn 8:3ff).

Some people misunderstood Jesus' actions. They thought He was trying to be popular by being permissive. However, Jesus set the record straight by proclaiming: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come, not to abolish them, but to fulfill them" (Mt 5:17). Jesus then proceeded to set the highest moral standards in history. He condemned not only murder but growing angry (Mt 5:22). He forbade not only adultery but also lustful glances and thoughts (Mt 5:28). Jesus also opposed divorce although it was accepted in the Bible (Mt 5:32). He even commanded us to love our enemies and to offer no resistance to injury (Mt 5:44, 39).

Jesus is not permissive; He is impossibly demanding. We will be hopelessly frustrated in trying to fulfill Jesus' moral standards. Our only hope is to come to Jesus (see Mt 11:28) and turn our lives over to Him. We cannot meet His standards, but we can "let it be done" to us according to His word (see Lk 1:38). "He Who calls us is trustworthy, therefore He will do it" (1 Thes 5:24).

Prayer: Father, I must be, but cannot be, holy. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me from this impossible situation.

Promise: "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love Him." -1 Cor 2:9

Praise: Alleluia! Jesus has conquered death for us! Alleluia!

Saturday, February 15, 2014


1 Kings 12:26-32; 13:33-34, Psalm 106:6-7, 19-22, Mark 8:1-10
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"How can anyone give these people sufficient bread in this deserted spot?" -Mark 8:4

Some Christians believe God no longer multiplies food, money, or time. Other Christians believe God still does His multiplication-miracle, but that He doesn't do it for them.
Jesus' multiplication of loaves and fish for the Gentiles specifically contradicts this. In Mark 6:34-44, Jesus multiplied loaves and fish for thousands of Jewish people. In Mark 8:1-9, He does the same thing for the Gentiles, thereby showing the miracle of multiplication is for all, not just for a certain group.
We deprive ourselves of the miracle of multiplication by our lack of faith. We don't believe our heavenly Father will provide; so we provide for ourselves to the point that we leave God little opportunity to father us in practical ways. We don't believe in the Spirit's gift of miracles (1 Cor 12:10); so we confine ourselves to the natural and scorn the supernatural.
By faith and in obedience to the Lord, risk, simplify, and give to the point that you need a God Who still multiplies loaves and fish. Then you will see the miracle of multiplication.

Prayer: Father, may I make decisions in my life which will make me dependent on You for my "daily bread."

Promise: "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd. By now they have been with Me three days and have nothing to eat." -Mk 8:2

Praise: In one year, Jose grew in Christian maturity to the point that he was as mature as those who had been active Christians for years.