Today's Gospel : 2014-06-15
An Embrace of Love
# John 3:16-18
At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
Jesus is on a mission of love from the Father to save the world from sin. He comes not to condemn, but to bring salvation. The catch is, to accept this salvation we need to use the gift of faith. Faith is not primarily having a strong emotion in favor of Jesus; rather, real faith essentially implies living out the demands of belonging to Christ through the filial obedience of love.
Do I take Jesus’ words seriously: “If you love me keep my commandments”? Do I realize that my family is a reflection of the Blessed Trinity? Do I strive to practice the self-giving that makes family life a joy? How can I practice greater charity and be less self-serving?
We Pray : Holy Trinity, enable me to know, love and serve you better.
Resolution: I will say one Our Father and three Hail Marys for an increase of faith, hope and charity.
Something Radically New
# Matthew 5: 38-42
Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow."
Reflection : Can we discover a unifying thread in this week’s Gospel readings? One that stands out is the radical newness of Christ’s Kingdom. It is new in its fundamental principle: a charity that must extend to loving one’s very enemies (Monday and Tuesday). It is new in the intentions which must motivate all our actions (Wednesday). It is new in the way we are to pray to our Father in heaven (Thursday). And, finally, it is new in the radical demands it places upon us as followers of Christ: We must make this Kingdom our only treasure (Friday) and seek it above everything else in life (Saturday). What a privilege to be called to the mission of helping to establish such a Kingdom! What a joy, what an honor, what a glory to be the subjects of such a King! Do people encounter a “newness”, a freshness, in my approach to life? Is it rooted in Christ’s new teaching?
We Pray : Lord, help me to embrace your call to turn the other cheek.
Resolution : I will do an act of kindness for someone with whom it is difficult for me to get along.
We Are All Brothers and Sisters, Children of Our Heavenly Father
Matthew 5: 43-48
Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
We Pray : Lord, help me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me.
Reflection : Why does Christ ask, even demand, of us such a radical form of love? Precisely because that is how God the Father loves each and every one of his sons and daughters, with no consideration of whether they are good or evil. “For he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” How much the world around us would change if those with whom we came into contact perceived in us a love like that of the Father of mercies! His love is absolutely without self-interest. He continues to love and pour forth his gifts even when he is not loved in return. Christ calls us to a lofty and challenging ideal, but one that is capable of transforming lives. What joy could be greater than to be true sons and daughters of our heavenly Father?
Resolution : I will pray for those with whom I am experiencing difficulties and do an act of charity for them.
The Danger of Vanity
Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: "Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."
Reflection : In today’s Gospel reading, Christ presents a difficult challenge and, at the same time, a great consolation. His teaching can be summed up with a simple phrase: In everything we do, act always before God alone. At the end of our life, all that will remain is what we have done for God and our brothers and sisters. Everything else, all of our vanities, our desires to be esteemed, loved or taken into account will vanish on the last day, like fog disappears under the rays of the sun. The challenge is clear: to act before God with absolute purity of intention. But where is the consolation? Our heavenly Father “sees in secret.” What might never be perceived or recognized or appreciated by the world will one day be rewarded in heaven.
We Pray : Lord, help me to act with greater purity of intention in my life.
Resolution: I will renew my purity of intention in the different activities of the day, doing them out of love for Christ and to help establish his Kingdom.
The School of Prayer
Matthew 6: 7-15
Jesus said to his disciples: "In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: ´Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.´ If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."
Reflection : “Give us this day our daily bread.” Even though we work to earn our daily bread with the sweat of our brow, it is still a gift from God. We ask only for what we need each day. The Church Fathers also see in this petition a request for the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. We strive to live so as to be worthy to receive the Eucharist each day. Christ then instructs us that when we ask God for forgiveness, we, too, must be willing to forgive others in the same way we ourselves are forgiven by our Father. Do I live this teaching fully in my life as a follower of Christ? Finally, we ask to be freed from temptation that is beyond our strength, and to be delivered from evil — or the Evil One. The Father is much more powerful than any temptation the devil can send against us. With what confidence and trust does Christ ask us to conclude the “Our Father!”
We Pray : Lord, teach me to pray.
Resolution : I will pray the “Our Father” as a colloquy with God at different moments during the day.
What is My Deepest Desire?
Matthew 6: 19-23
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
Reflection : Who does not long to discover a hidden treasure? The human heart was made for the happiness and security treasure promises, for the joy it brings. But one fundamental problem presents itself: to what kind of treasure should we entrust our heart, our inmost being, our very self? Christ alerts us to the false treasures which tug at our heart each day — earthly treasures of fine clothes, or possessions, or wealth. Each of these treasures can and will be taken from us. At the moment we most need help, the time of our passing to eternity, material belongings will betray us. As the realistic Spanish proverb puts it: “There are no pockets in a shroud.”
We Pray : Lord, help me to discover where you are most calling me to store up treasures in heaven.
Resolution: I will do everything this day out of love for Christ and to help establish his Kingdom, renewing my conscious efforts to store up treasures in heaven.
Only One Master
Matthew 6: 24-34
Jesus said to his disciples: "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ´What will we eat?´ or ´What will we drink?´ or ´What will we wear?´ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today´s trouble is enough for today."
Reflection : What can be added to Christ’s beautiful images in the Gospel, urging us to trust in the loving providence of our heavenly Father? All that is necessary is to ponder how God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field and to let the reality of his fatherly care for these ephemeral creatures sink deeply into our soul. How much more will he not care for us, the crowning work of his hand, his sons and daughters, for whom he is willing to send his only begotten Son to die on the Cross? Christ penetrates to the real cause of our worries and anxieties, our anxious concern that often overwhelms us in life: we have little faith. Little faith and even less trust in the goodness of our heavenly Father. Let us thank him for his patience and allow his fatherly goodness to penetrate to the depths of our spirit.
We Pray : Lord, help me to trust more deeply in the loving providence of our heavenly Father.
Resolution: I will renew my spirit of faith to see everything that happens to me today as part of God’s loving providence.