I Want to Live Forever
John 6: 51-58
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."
We Pray : Lord Jesus, I believe, but help my unbelief. Give me your Body in the Eucharist, and grant me the grace to grow every day in my faith in your real presence in the Eucharist.
Resolution: I will try to make it to an additional Mass sometime during the week.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother´s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ´Let me remove that splinter from your eye,´ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother´s eye."
Reflection : Judging others is a national pastime. It is so easy to pick out the faults of others -- to see their defects. It can make us feel superior. Yet, focusing on the faults of others can often distract us from our own failings. We tend to see in others the very faults of which we ourselves are guilty. That is why a husband who spends endless hours on Internet might complain about the amount of time his wife spends at the shopping mall. What do I complain about the most? Could I be guilty of the same fault?
We Pray : Life is short, Lord, and I need to grasp the importance of each day as an opportunity to grow in holiness. Let me put more effort into criticizing myself rather than others. Help me to see truthfully where my worst faults lie.
Resolution: I will say something nice to the last person I criticized or spoke badly about.
What´s in a Name?
Luke 1:57-66, 80
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?" For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Reflection : The arrival of a new baby has been a source of joy throughout the ages. Babies are God´s way of saying the world should go on. Each new child reflects a facet of the infinite beauty and mystery of God. And by teaching us patience and selflessness, the little ones help us grow in holiness. In their childlike simplicity they teach us to remain simple. Their neediness can, and should, soften our hearts. They don´t even have to be our own children; we can feel an obligation to help all kids, since their lives enrich all of us. What have I done lately to help the little ones, born and unborn? Is there a crisis-pregnancy center that could use help? Have I spoken well of parents who are open to large families?
We Pray : Lord, you have put family members and other loved ones in my life for a reason. I´m to help them get to heaven, and they are to help me do the same. Remind me of this truth, and help me in a special way not to interfere with the plans you have for the children in my life.
Resolution: I will pray a decade of the rosary that all my family members reach heaven.
Rerun of Little Red Riding-Hood
Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them."
Reflection : Today we abound with information, but are short on guidance. The media tell us that abortion is OK, that stem-cell research on human embryos is compassionate, that same-sex marriage equals tolerance. Wayward faithful ignore or insult papal teachings. "The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). How do I judge what I hear day by day? How do I gauge what the media tell me? Do I absorb everything I hear like a sponge? Or do I try to find out what the Church says on issues? Am I aware of how much the media can steal my interior peace? That it can leave me thinking in a very worldly way?
We Pray : Lord, I am surrounded by views of the world -- so many opinions, so much information. I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Let me see in your vicar on earth, the Pope, the safe and sure path to follow in the midst of confusion.
Resolution: I will compliment someone for the hidden, but lasting, work they are doing for the Kingdom.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Not everyone who says to me, ´Lord, Lord,´ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ´Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?´ Then I will declare to them, ´I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.´ Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell -- and great was its fall!" Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Reflection : "Faith without works is useless" (James 2:20). Witnessing to our faith through our works is crucial. It´s not enough to go to Mass on Sunday, to have the Bible on the shelf, to hang a rosary on the rearview mirror. Faith in Christ means daily conversion, changing our lives in conformity to his will. "Not everyone who says to me, ´Lord, Lord,´ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Doing the will of the Father means works of charity, of patience, of disinterested service. Real expressions of our faith demand that we give of ourselves. Real faith doesn´t leave us feeling smug. Do I ever feel self-righteous because "I´m with the Pope"? Because I "never got caught" doing something wrong? Does my faith in Christ leave me complacent? Or does it drive me to works of charity?
Reflection : Lord, you love me too much to stand by and let me live my life on the surface. You know it is difficult for me to give up my mask, because it is never easy for me to face my weaknesses. Give me the strength to confront what I need to change in my life.
Resolution: I will note one area where I´m not living up to the public image I present. Then I will offer up a decade of the rosary to overcome that vice or weakness.
At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
Reflection : When we confront the daily struggles and trials, we tend to get confused because we keep turning the problems around and around until they become such a tangled mess that they really begin to drag us down. Something similar can happen in our spiritual lives too. We begin to juggle around a lot of ideas and good desires and proposals but never really get anywhere because we lack clarity and direction. All we really need is just one idea and one word; “yes”. It’s a word which is easy to say, but at times difficult to fulfill. It needs to be part of our daily vocabulary to say yes to God and to our brothers and sisters. Jesus says to us, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
We Pray : Lord Jesus, I know that you always said “yes” to the will of the Father. I ask you to grant me the same willingness to do your most holy will at each moment of my life.
Resolution: I will pray an Our Father for peace in the world.
Blessed is She Who Believed
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father´s house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
Reflection : Mary has a mother’s heart that wants to love the loves of her Son. For Mary the road was not always clear. There would be many trials and difficulties. Nevertheless, Mary is resolved to follow her Son. She wants to follow him, understanding the mission. She cares for him in every way – even spiritually. There were many surprises in store for her as Christ matured and prepared for his mission. She never expected this one, losing her son for three days, at such an early age. Her son desired to be in his Father’s house and prepare his work. He loved being there and was preparing for the day when he would go out and actively do the work he had been sent for. Mary too was preparing for that day and Christ helped her get ready.
We Pray : Lord Jesus Christ, when you had already given us everything – your life, your love, your Eucharist – from the cross you gave us the gift of your Mother. I thank you for this great gift. I want to be her faithful child. I want to imitate all her virtues, especially her faithfulness to you up to and beyond the moment of the cross. Grant me the grace to accompany both you and your mother at the foot of the cross. I want to follow you closely and perfectly as Mary did. I want to belong only to you and do only your will.
Resolution: I will ask Mary to shape all Christian virtues in me by my daily prayer to her in the Rosary. I will also make a special visit to her at one of her statues or images this week.