Afleveringen

  • “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” Luke 12:57–59

    The Church Fathers offer many different interpretations of this passage. Among them, Saint Bede says that our “opponent” can be seen as the Word of God, in the sense that the Word of God makes war upon our weaknesses and sins. When we listen to the Word of God, our Lord will convict us of our faults so that we can reconcile our lives with the Truth of the Word of God Himself.

    When you think about God’s holy Word, in its entirety, what most convicts you? Sometimes we try to downplay such personal convictions. We rationalize our actions and dismiss what God is saying to us. Are there any teachings of Jesus that you recall that have truly stung you to the heart? If so, this is a grace, and it’s an opportunity to fulfill the lesson from our Lord taught in the passage above. God does not convict our hearts so as to condemn us. Rather, He convicts us, as an opponent to our sin, so that we can “make an effort to settle the matter on the way.” The conscience is a wonderful gift from our Lord and can be likened to this passage above. It is a form of courtroom where our Lord desires not to have to issue punishment upon us. Instead, He desires that we engage His holy Word, listen to what He says, and settle our sin by repenting immediately.

    Among the many lessons taught by our Lord, it is often the lesson that jumps out at us, even in a startling way, that we need to pay attention to the most. God often brings His most urgent teachings to us by causing us to feel a sense of guilt that cannot be denied. If we listen to these convictions, then we will not have any need to stand before the Judge. But if we do not, if we bury these convictions, downplay them and ignore them, then our Lord will find it necessary to keep at us. We will begin to experience His judgment, and we will see the effects of being out of His good graces. And in the end, if we fail to repent of the more serious sins in our lives, then we will even be held accountable for the smallest of sins. We will be required to “pay the last penny.”

    Reflect, today, upon the idea that the Word of God, all that our Lord has taught us, is the opponent to the sin in your soul. This good and holy opponent wants only what is best for you. Commit yourself to an ongoing reading of God’s holy Word so that you will be continually disposed to hear all that God wants to say to you and so that you will be able to reconcile with our Lord before He is compelled to issue forth His judgments.

    My most merciful Judge, You desire that I listen to Your holy Word, revealed through Scripture, so as to receive Your most merciful conviction of my sin. I pray that I will be open to always hear all that You desire to say to me so that I can respond with generosity and trust, reconciling with You and others continually through my journey in life. Enliven my conscience with Your holy Word, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” Luke 12:49–50

    There is much that we can take from these teachings of our Lord. Not only did Jesus say, “I have come to set the earth on fire…” He also said that it’s His desire that this fire be “blazing!”

    Fire is powerful. A blazing fire, for example, can purify the precious metal gold. When heated to a liquid state, the impurities rise to the surface for easy removal. Fire can also consume. When a blazing fire completes its burning, what’s left are only ashes. Many great saints have reflected upon the image of fire as an image of the purification God wants to do within our souls. Saint John of the Cross, for example, reflected in depth upon this image. He explained that entering into divine union was similar to a log burning. At first, as the log begins to burn, it crackles and pops. This is because the impurities within the wood, such as moisture or sap, do not burn as the wood burns. But as a log continues to burn, as Saint John explains, eventually the log becomes one with the fire. At first, you can distinguish the log from the fire when only part of the log is burning. But once the entire log is engulfed in the flames and all the impurities are burnt out, you have a piece of wood that is one with the fire. It glows and emits light and heat.

    When we ponder these words from Jesus regarding His desire to “set the earth on fire,” we must first see this as His desire to purify our souls. Within our souls, there are many impurities that need to be removed if we are to become one with God, emitting His radiance and glory. This purification involves a process of allowing God to bring our sins to the surface so that they are seen and can be removed. But this is only possible if we allow the blazing fire of God’s purifying love to consume us.

    Oftentimes in life, we are content with simply being mediocre in our faith journey. We pray, go to Mass on Sunday, and try to be good. But this is not the life our Lord wants for us. He wants a life that is radically consumed with the blazing fire of His love. He wants us to become so purified from our sin that He is able to become one with us, sending forth the radiance of His glory through our lives.

    Reflect, today, upon this image of a blazing and purifying fire. Use the image of gold melting to the point that all impurities rise to the surface. Or use the image that Saint John of the Cross uses with the log. God wants so much more from you. He wants to transform you and use you in ways beyond your imagination. Do not be afraid to make the radical decision to allow the blazing and purifying fire of our Lord’s mercy to transform you. And don’t wait for this to start tomorrow—kindle that flame today.

    My purifying Lord, You deeply desire to set my heart and soul on fire with the transforming mercy of Your love. Please give me the grace I need to permit You to kindle this fire of love in my heart so that it will truly become blazing and all-consuming. May this blaze ignite me in the inner depths of my heart so that You will shine brightly in my life, bringing forth the warmth of Your love into our world. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Luke 12:39–40

    These words from Jesus should cause us to sit up and take notice. This parable, followed by the rest of today’s Gospel, exhorts us to always be prepared for our particular judgment at the conclusion of our earthly life. There are various reasons these words should be heeded.

    First of all, the obvious reason is that life for any of us could end at any time. We only need to recall various tragedies in which people have suddenly died from a car accident or from some other unexpected reason. Furthermore, there truly will be a specific moment in time when our Lord does return to earth for the Final Judgment. That moment will take place in an instant without any warning. It’s easy to presume that this end of the world when our Lord “comes to judge the living and the dead” will not happen for hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years. But the simple truth is that it could be at any time, when those who are alive least expect it.

    With that said, there is another important reason to always be prepared and ready to meet our Lord for our particular judgment. Even though our particular judgment will take place in a definitive way at the end of our life when we see our Lord face-to-face, we also encounter Him every day, all day, receiving daily rewards for our fidelity or judgment for our sins. It is useful to see this “hour you do not expect” as every moment of every day. If you can live every day with this ongoing expectation that our Lord is coming to you, today, then every moment can be turned into a moment of much grace.

    Think about your day today. Does God want to come to you, to inspire you and to lead you to fulfill His holy mission today? Indeed He does. He has a specific mission for you today that will not be there tomorrow. He wants you to be aware of His presence right now so that you can respond to Him with much generosity.

    Reflect, today, upon the importance of always being vigilant and attentive to God’s presence in your life. He wishes to speak to you, day and night, so as to guide you into a life of true holiness. If you can build a habit of attentiveness to His continual comings, then you will truly be prepared for that final coming when you meet our Lord face-to-face.

    My ever-present Lord, You do come to me day and night, speaking to me, inspiring me, and leading me. Please fill me with the gift of holy vigilance so that I will always be prepared to meet You and hear Your holy voice. May I learn to build a habit of responding to You always. And may I especially be prepared for that glorious moment when I am blessed to see You face-to-face. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.” Luke 12:35–36

    What does it mean to “Gird your loins?” This phrase, which is not commonly used today, literally means “tighten your belt.” It traditionally refers to one who is wearing a long robe that makes it difficult to move quickly and easily. Thus, to gird your loins means that you tuck in the long robe and tighten your belt so that you are prepared for some physical activity. It was also commonly used to exhort those preparing for battle to get ready. Symbolically, then, this phrase simply means to be ready for something difficult or challenging. It means to be vigilant and prepared. Spiritually speaking, Jesus is telling His disciples to be ready for the spiritual battle that awaits them.

    Jesus then tells His disciples to light their lamps. That phrase could have a variety of meanings, such as “Do not remain in the darkness of sin or ignorance” or “Let the light of charity shine forth as you navigate through life” or “Allow the light of truth to shine within your mind.” Hence, by the light of faith, they are to be prepared and vigilant, ready to do all that the Lord sends them to do.

    Today’s Gospel ends by Jesus saying that the disciples will be truly blessed if they remain vigilant even until the second or third watch of the night. Some Church Fathers see this as a reference to three periods in one’s life: childhood being the first watch, middle age being the second, and old age being the third watch.

    With these meanings understood, one message we can take from this Gospel is that Jesus is calling us to be vigilant in our faith at every moment of our lives. For those who have lived many years, it may be useful to look back at how faithful you have been throughout every period of your life. God wants to use you in many ways during childhood, through your middle age, and even in old age. The journey of faith must never end. Instead, it must continually deepen as you age. But this will only be possible if you “gird your loins” and “light your lamps.” You must continually be vigilant, continually attentive to the light of faith, and continually be ready to act every time God inspires you to act.

    Reflect, today, upon the lifelong journey of faith and service of God to which you are called. Being a Christian is not simply something you are born into. If you were born into the faith, then ponder especially what you have done throughout your life to daily deepen and strengthen that faith. Ponder whether or not you have diligently responded to the countless inspirations of the Holy Spirit to spread the light of faith to others. If you have been truly faithful throughout your life, then give thanks to God and recommit yourself to this fidelity for the rest of your life. If you have lacked faith and vigilant attentiveness to the will of God, then place that in the hands of God’s mercy and resolve from this day forward to do all you can to respond to the will of God the moment God calls.

    My most merciful Lord, I thank You for the countless ways throughout my life that You have spoken to me, calling me to fulfill my mission of faith and love in this world. I commit to You, this day, to always remain vigilant and attentive to You everytime You call. Use me, dear Lord, so that I may bring the light of Your saving Gospel to a world in need. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Luke 10:1–2

    Saint Luke, whom we honor today, was a true evangelist. As an evangelist, he followed the inspiration from our Lord and was used to bring God’s saving message to the ends of the earth. And there is little doubt that his ministry will continue to have a transforming effect on the lives of many until the end of the world. Tradition states that Saint Luke became a martyr, being hanged on an olive tree. He is identified in the New Testament as a physician and as a disciple of Saint Paul. Both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are attributed to him.

    Saint Luke is often spoken of as an evangelist to the gentiles. His Gospel was written in such a way that it didn’t presume a full understanding of the Jewish faith and customs. Therefore, it is believed to have been primarily written for those who are not of Jewish origin. Thus, the life and mission of Saint Luke must remind us that the Gospel needs to be shared with all people, especially with those who do not have a deep and sustaining relationship with God.

    In today’s Gospel from Saint Luke, we read that Jesus sent seventy-two disciples “to every town and place he intended to visit.” Only Luke mentions the larger scale sending of seventy-two disciples. The other Gospels only mention the sending of the Twelve. Though many of these seventy-two disciples would have gone to Jewish territory, some would have unquestionably gone to non-Jewish territory. The mission of these seventy-two was to prepare everyone they encountered for the preaching of Jesus and for the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

    As we honor Saint Luke today and read this passage from his Gospel, we are reminded that we are all sent by our Lord. We are sent to those who share our faith, such as family, friends and fellow parishioners. We are sent to love them and do all we can to help deepen their faith and love of God. But we are also called to share the Gospel with those who do not yet know Jesus as their Savior. There are so many people we encounter every day who have never truly met our Lord. Are there people in your life that God is calling you to reach out to? Who do you know that God may be calling you to share the Gospel with?

    Reflect, today, upon the fact that the Gospel is meant for everyone. Speak to our Lord and tell Him that you are ready and willing to be used by Him to bring His saving message to others. As you do so, wait on the Lord, listen to His inspiration, and respond when He calls. If someone comes to mind whom you sense God is calling you to evangelize, begin to pray for that person. Pray for them every day and be attentive to any inspiration God gives you to share His love and saving message with them. Do not be afraid to be an evangelist like Saint Luke. Doing so might make an eternal difference in someone's life.

    My saving Lord, You sent Your disciples on a mission to share Your saving message with all. Today I especially thank You for the life and ministry of Saint Luke. Please use me, dear Lord, to imitate his wonderful example and to share Your glorious life with others. Please lead me and inspire me to especially reach out to those whom You have put into my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • Jesus summoned the twelve and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” Mark 10:42–44

    This is certainly easier said than done. This passage reveals one serious temptation that those “who are recognized as rulers” may fall into. This is the temptation of an abuse of power and a lack of humble leadership.

    For example, tradition states that at the heart of the fall of lucifer and the demons was a desire for power. “I will not serve” are the words attributed to lucifer. In other words, the desire for power and to be served by others was real and very powerful for these fallen angels. So it is with each one of us.

    Though we may not be in a position of great power over others, we will most likely all struggle with the desire for power. This can happen in just about any context. Take, for example, a friendship. Very often when there is the slightest disagreement on something, we want our own way. We want to be in charge. Or take the example of home life. How many enter into family life with a desire to serve the others and to humbly submit to the others’ wills? This is hard to do. It’s much easier to want to be the boss and to dictate to others what is to happen in this or that situation.

    In the passage above, Jesus makes it clear to His Apostles that when they exercise their “authority” over others they are not to make it “felt” by others. In other words, Jesus was not calling His Apostles to be leaders by brute force, intimidation, manipulation or by any other severe exercise of their authority. The authority that Jesus wanted was much different.

    Christian authority is centered in love and humility. It’s a “leadership” that is lived in true humility. This leadership wins over hearts, minds and wills of others and invites them to follow in charity and love. This must happen within the family, among friends, at church and within society.

    Reflect, today, upon how you lead others. Do you expect to be the “boss” and expect others to follow you because of your authority? Or do you lead others by humility and love drawing them to Christ through your goodness? Commit yourself to Christian leadership as Jesus intended and you will be amazed at the effect it has within your family, among friends and within the larger community.

    Lord, help me to be a humble leader. Help me to let Your heart of love and mercy shine forth and to lead by the goodness and kindness of Your merciful heart. Help me to set aside all pride and egotism and to become a servant of all. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” Luke 12:11–12

    Jesus lived this Gospel passage in His own life to perfection. He was arrested, interrogated, falsely condemned and questioned by the Chief Priest, Herod and Pontius Pilate. During His interrogations, sometimes He spoke and at other times He remained silent. In preparation for these interrogations, Jesus did not study each ruler ahead of time, trying to figure out what He should say and not say. He did not prepare a defense but relied upon His perfect union with the Holy Spirit and with the Father to be led at every moment in His human nature.

    Though it may be unlikely that you will be arrested for your faith and put on trial for being Christian by the civil authorities, it is possible that you will experience various other forms of interrogation and condemnation at times during which you are challenged to respond. And more likely, if you are judged by another, you may be tempted to defend yourself in anger, attacking back.

    This Gospel passage, when clearly understood and lived, should have the effect of calming you and reassuring you during any and every experience of judgment. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way” (# 2478). And though you must always strive to do this yourself, there will most likely be times when others do not act in this careful and truthful way toward you. Thus, if you are judged by another, even if what they say has truth to it, it is important that you not react with defensiveness and anger, unless the Holy Spirit has unmistakably led you to do so. The key message Jesus gives is that you must trust that the Holy Spirit will always lead you as you humbly and continually seek to follow His every prompting. This is only possible if you have built a firm habit of attentiveness to the Voice of God within your conscience.

    Because the experience of rash judgment, detraction, calumny and the like are painful to encounter, you must prepare your defense ahead of time by learning to only rely upon the Holy Spirit in all things. Jesus exhorts us to do so! Therefore, if you daily and humbly seek to fulfill God’s will, hear His voice, and respond with generosity, then you can be certain that when the time comes and you experience these forms of judgment, you will be ready. The Holy Spirit will speak to you, inspire you, console you and give you every grace you need to respond in accord with God’s will. Do not doubt this. Have faith and confidence in these words and this promise of our Lord.

    Reflect, today, upon the ways that you have responded in the past to the judgment of another. Try to call to mind specific moments when this has happened. Did you respond with similar judgments? Were you filled with anger? Did you brood over injury? Did you lose your peace of heart? If you have fallen into these temptations, then commit yourself in faith to believe what Jesus says today. Trust Him. Trust that He will be with you in those difficult moments in the future and pray that you will be graced to respond only as the Holy Spirit directs you.

    My innocent Lord, You were put on trial, judged and falsely condemned. Yet in all of that, You were the Innocent Lamb Who always loved and spoke truth with perfection. When I experience judgment in my life, please fill me with peace of heart and trust in Your promise that the Holy Spirit will be with me, inspiring me and leading me in accord with Your perfect will. Holy Spirit, I abandon myself to You now and always. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:2–3

    Immediately prior to this passage quoted above, Jesus told His disciples: “Beware of the leaven—that is, the hypocrisy—of the Pharisees.” This comes after Jesus gives a long and very direct series of condemnations of these leaders in the previous chapter. Jesus is quite serious about their destructive actions. So, after directly confronting them, He then turns to His disciples to warn them of the consequences of these hypocritical leaders.

    A hypocrite is one who pretends to have some moral virtues but, in truth, is only deceiving himself and attempting to deceive others. For that reason, Jesus assists His disciples by sharing with them the fact that all truth will eventually come to light. Thus, every good deed will eventually be seen by all for its goodness, and every evil intent, no matter how hidden, will eventually come to light.

    Though the immediate temptation for many in hearing this passage will be to think about others who they think fall into the sin of hypocrisy, it may be far more useful to ponder these truths for oneself. The simple message that Jesus preaches is that we must be people who are truthful in every way. We must be honest with ourselves and make sure that we are fully aware of our inner life, seeing ourselves only in the way that God sees us. This act of honesty and integrity is one of the best ways by which we prepare ourselves for eternal life. How sad it would be if we went through life pretending, on the surface, to be something we were not, only to have the full truth divulged at our final judgment when it is too late to change.

    Being honest with ourselves can be difficult. It’s normal for us to want to be good, to want to be holy, and to want others to think this way about us. For that reason, it is very common for us to put forth only the best image of ourselves, hiding many other things that may embarrass us and even humiliate us. And though we do not have any moral obligation to tell everyone about every sin we struggle with interiorly, it is morally essential that we face it ourselves and do so with the grace of God.

    One practical way to do this is to ponder the above Scripture passage. Jesus makes it clear that at some time, in some way, everything within us in our hearts and minds will come to light. For some this will happen, by God’s grace, during this life as a way for them to change. For others, these secrets will only come to light at their final judgment. The truth, however, is that all that we are, all that we think, and all that we do in a hidden way will come to light. And if that frightens you in some way, that is good. Sometimes we need a holy fear to encourage us to look inward and to deal with all that we keep hidden from others.

    Reflect, today, upon the importance of striving for a life of true transparency and integrity. The best way to do this is to live every day as if everything within your heart were visible for all to see. If that means you need to change in some way so as to be at peace with what will eventually come to light, then work diligently on making that change here and now. The opposite of hypocrisy, for which the Pharisees were firmly condemned, is honesty and sincerity. Spend time reflecting upon these beautiful virtues and pray that the Lord will gift you with them so that you can live a life of true integrity here and now in preparation for that glorious day of judgment, when all will be “known” and “proclaimed on the housetops.”

    My revealing Lord, You see all things. You know my heart in every way. Please grace me with the ability to see myself as You see me and to know my inner heart as You know me. As the deepest truths of who I am come to light for me to see, I pray that I will also have the grace to sincerely change so that I may truly glorify You with my actions and become a source of authentic inspiration to all. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say. Luke 11:53–54

    Over the past few days, we have been reading Saint Luke’s version of Jesus’ “Woe to you” rebukes of the scribes, Pharisees and the scholars of the law. Today’s Gospel concludes these rebukes of love by pointing out that these religious leaders did not convert. Instead, they began plotting against Jesus so as to “catch him at something he might say.” This is what happens when people use God's holy law as a weapon to attack.

    Normally, we take inspiration from the Holy Scriptures in a positive way, meaning, by reflecting upon Jesus’ words and actions and applying them to our lives. However, we can also learn from the evil others commit and allow their actions to inspire us to avoid their sin. In today’s Gospel, we are invited to ponder the obsessive plotting of these religious leaders so as to consider whether we also are guilty of their sin.

    First, note that at the conclusion of Jesus’ rebukes, these religious leaders “began to act with hostility” toward Jesus. Normally, when we act with hostility toward another, it is done with the mindframe that we are right and they have done something wrong. We justify our hostility by pointing to their perceived sin. However, it must be understood that every act of hostility on our part is a clear indication that we have started down the road of sin and are not justified in our obsession.

    Notice also that these religious leaders exercised their hostility toward Jesus by interrogating Him. In other words, in their anger, they kept asking Him questions so as to find some fault with Him. They tried to trick Him and trap Him with their speech using God’s very Law handed down through Moses and the prophets. But they manipulated that Law so as to justify their hostility and, out of pride, to falsely accuse Jesus.

    Think about any times in your life in which you found yourself somewhat obsessed with what you judged to be the sin of another. Hostility in this case can even be passive, meaning you may present a kind disposition on the surface, but interiorly you are obsessively thinking about how you can condemn the person. Often when this happens, we can feel justified in that we convince ourselves that justice must be done and that we are the dispensers of that justice. But if God is in control of our lives, He will not call us to obsessive plotting in regard to another. Instead, when we are following the will of God, we will sense Him inspiring us to act with immediacy, calm, joy, kindness, honesty, and freedom from all anger and obsession.

    Reflect, today, upon any way that you have seen this misguided tendency within your own life. If you can identify a time when you struggled with hostility toward another, look at the fruit it bore. Was God glorified through your actions? Did this leave you at peace or agitated? Were you fully objective in your thinking? Be honest with these questions and you will begin to discover the road to freedom from such obsessive thinking. God wants you to be at peace. If there is injustice, trust that our Lord will sort it out. You, for your part, must continually work to forgive, act with charity, and direct your attention to the will of God as it is gently presented to you.

    My patient and kind Lord, You were falsely accused and condemned by many of the religious leaders of Your time because You spoke the pure truth with love, clarity and boldness. When I act with hostility and anger toward another, help me to turn from these sins so that I will never condemn, never judge and never manipulate Your divine Law for my own purposes. Fill me with Your peace and charity alone, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.” Luke 11:45–46

    This scholar of the law had been listening to Jesus firmly rebuke the Pharisees. As he listened, his own conscience was pricked, and he challenged our Lord. What does Jesus do? He quickly and firmly rebukes the scholar of the law, pointing out that the scholar uses the law to impose heavy burdens on people. Jesus did not back down in this rebuke of love. Instead, He directed it to the very place that His rebuke was bearing fruit: in the conscience of this scholar of the law.

    This experience of the scholar of the law teaches us two important lessons. First, we learn from him the importance of paying attention to our conscience when it is “pricked.” Second, it teaches us that when this happens, it is very easy to become defensive.

    What is it that pricks your own conscience? Think back over the past month and reflect upon anything that you became defensive about. Did something someone said bother you? If so, pay attention to this. Sometimes we are bothered for reasons other than our own sin. But oftentimes, what actually bothers us is that we come face-to-face with some sin with which we struggle, and we do not want to admit it.

    What if this scholar of the law would have listened to Jesus and, instead of being offended, became grateful for Jesus’ words? What if he would have humbly looked at his own life and realized that he was also guilty of the very things that Jesus was condemning the Pharisees for? If he would have done that, he would have been put in a position to sincerely examine his actions and begin a process of change. But this is hard to do.

    Reflect, today, upon anything that has recently offended you. Be honest and admit that it is often the case that when God presents you with your sin through some means such as the loving rebuke of another, you must work diligently to overcome any pride. And when you feel defensive, you must immediately see that as an indication that there is something in your life that you need to change. A pricked conscience is a gift from God. Rejoice when that happens, rather than being offended, and you will discover one of the best ways by which you can grow in holiness of life by becoming free of the very sin our Lord is presenting to you.

    My challenging Lord, You are constantly speaking to me in various ways. Sometimes You are gentle, and at other times You lovingly rebuke me. Please help me to see my sin. As I do, I pray that I will not become defensive or dismissive, rationalizing my erroneous actions. May I learn to rejoice in all that You say to me, especially when You speak Your rebukes of love. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools!” Luke 11:37–40

    It’s hard to imagine Jesus calling someone a fool. But that’s exactly what He did. This Pharisee had just finished listening to Jesus give a series of teachings and then invited our Lord to His home for dinner in an apparent gesture of kindness. But as the passage unfolds, it’s clear that this Pharisee is no friend of Jesus. Instead, his hospitality and kindness are a cloak for the evil within his soul.

    Why does Jesus respond so fiercely, calling the Pharisee a fool? Because this Pharisee is filled with hypocrisy. His exterior actions do not flow from a heart filled with charity and faith. Instead, his exterior actions are a show. He is a fraud. He, like many of the Pharisees, was very concerned with various external rituals, such as scrupulously washing his hands before he ate. He believed that doing so was a sign of his holiness and closeness to God. But it wasn’t. His heart was one that was filled with judgment and self-righteousness. He looked down on others and elevated himself. In doing so, he deceived others and even deceived himself.

    The central message we must take from this is that we must diligently focus upon that which is in our hearts. Our hearts, our interior life, must be blooming with love of God and others. We must place all of our efforts on cultivating a sincere life of virtue within. This is done by prayer and humility. Humility will open our eyes to see the truth of who we are. Prayer will strengthen us to change as we see that which needs to be changed within. Only then, when we see clearly the truth of who we are and prayerfully rely upon grace obtained by prayer, will we be able to become people of true integrity and holiness. And only then will our interior holiness be made manifest externally in our actions.

    Reflect, today, upon these powerful words of Jesus: “You fools!” Don’t be offended by these words; they are words of love from our Lord. They are His fierce attempt to wake this Pharisee up and lead him away from his hypocrisy. Listen to these words as if they were also spoken to you. Every one of us can humbly benefit from this loving chastisement from Jesus. Every one of us needs to humbly be transformed more fully interiorly. Let Jesus’ words speak to you and reveal to you the ways that you need to change. Perhaps your pride has led you to an interior practice of judgment of others. Perhaps it has blinded you to sins that you need to confess. If you can listen to these words as if they were spoken to you, then Jesus’ fervor will reach you, and your eyes will be opened to that which is in your soul that needs to be changed. Do not turn a blind eye to this. Be open, be humble and listen.

    My fervent Lord, You spoke words of love in many ways. At times You were gentle and at times You were firm. Please give me the grace and humility I need to be open to Your firm rebukes of love. Help me to sincerely see the ways in which I need to change my life so that Your grace will transform my interior life, flowing over into my actions. I love You, dear Lord. Help me to love You more. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.” Luke 11:29–30

    Do you ever find yourself looking for signs from God? Often when we go through life, navigating through the ups and downs we all experience, we can easily find ourselves looking for signs from God about what we should do about this or that. And though God certainly communicates to us at times through special graces that are signs from Heaven, the passage above gives clarity to what sign we must be most attentive to.

    The simple message in this Gospel passage from our Lord is that we must discover the meaning of the most profound sign ever given and use that as the foundation of all our decisions in life. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were not only the source of eternal life, they are also the clearest sign we need as we make all of our decisions in life.

    A sign is some action that reveals a deep and hidden mystery. One mystery that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection reveals is that if we are to share in the new life won for us by His Cross, then we must follow the example He set by living a life of selfless sacrifice, laying down our lives for others, so that they will discover and embrace the new life of Christ’s Resurrection. Practically speaking, if you find yourself looking for answers in life, seeking signs from God about what you should do at times, then turn your eyes to the life of Christ and ponder ways in which you can more fully imitate His life in every daily practical decision you make. This is true whether you are discerning some important decision in life or some small practical decision.

    It is common to engage in such a discernment by looking at ourselves in a more selfish way. It’s difficult to move away from this line of thinking, but if we are to use the “sign” of the Son of Man, then we will discern our life decisions very differently. When we use the life, death and resurrection of our Lord as the source of our discernment and decision making in life, then we will end up making decisions that imitate His selfless sacrifice of love. So if you are faced with a decision, you will not ponder what is easier or what you prefer; rather, you will ponder what is more selfless and best for others. What is it that best imitates the sacrificial love of Jesus?

    Reflect, today, upon any decision you are trying to make. Then reflect upon how you are going about this decision. Do you use the witness Jesus gave to us as the foundation of your discernment? Do you reflect upon how you can lay your life down as a sacrificial gift for others? Do you look at love from the point of view of the Cross of our Lord and strive to imitate His glorious and selfless dedication to the salvation of those whom He loves? Seek to imitate our Lord, using the witness of His actions as the foundation of all of your discernment and decisions in life, and you will have discovered the only true sign you need to navigate the challenges of life.

    My perfect Lord, every decision You made in life was made out of love and was in accord with the perfect will of the Father. Give me the grace I need to make every decision in life in imitation of Your perfect example. May my life imitate You as You laid down Your life for others. I choose You and Your glorious sacrificial life as the sign by which I am directed in life. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17

    This story starts out looking quite good. Here is a young man who is quite wealthy who comes to Jesus with a question grounded in faith. By asking Jesus what He must do to inherit eternal life, this man most likely believed that Jesus had the answer. And in his excitement, he wanted direction from Jesus.

    Jesus tells him that he must keep the Commandments, to which the young man responds that he has observed them from his youth. But then Jesus says something that this young man never expected Him to say. He says, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Ouch! This must have stung this rich young man in the heart. The passage continues by stating that this young man walked away sad as a result of what Jesus said.

    The young man started with good intentions, that is clear. But good intentions are not enough. Following Jesus and gaining eternal life is an all-consuming and radical commitment of every part of our lives. It’s not enough to tell Jesus that we will keep the Commandments but that’s all. Sure, that may get us into Purgatory, but what we should desire is Heaven! So how do we obtain Heaven?

    We only obtain Heaven through a life of perfection. Yes, it’s true. If we want Heaven, we must ultimately become perfect in every way. Every worldly attachment must disappear, and every sin must be overcome. Our good intentions must turn into a radical and total gift of self to Jesus, seeking Him and only Him.

    The rich young man walked away sad because he failed to realize that Jesus’ invitation to him to give everything away was actually an act of love. He did not understand that he would find happiness in this radical commitment to follow Christ.

    Reflect, today, upon the radical call of Jesus in your life. He wants every part of your life. You may have good intentions of trying to be good, but are you willing to go all the way following Christ in a full and unlimited way?

    Lord, I love You, and I want to love You more. I want to love You with my whole being. Help me to realize that following You requires a radical and complete gift of myself to You. May I be ready and willing to let go of any attachment in life that keeps me from following You. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Luke 11:27–28

    This short Gospel reading reveals much about what makes one “blessed” in life. Specifically, Jesus considers those truly blessed who do two things: “hear the word of God” and then “observe it.” Though this seems quite obvious at first read, it is often harder than it seems.

    The first step to a blessed life is hearing the Word of God. To “hear” implies that we do much more than become familiar with the Gospels. Hearing means we are not only aware of all that our Lord has revealed, it also means that we have truly internalized it, understanding all that our Lord requires of us.

    Have you heard our Lord? It’s important to understand that the Gospel is alive. In other words, becoming familiar with the Word of God is not the same as reading some ancient book of lessons. Rather, hearing the Word of God means we hear a Person: the Son of God, speaking to us and guiding us each step of our lives. God’s Word is something that must speak to us every moment of every day, inspiring us to do this and avoid that. It is accomplished through a lifelong habit of prayerful communion with our Lord through which we are attentive to His voice always.

    Hearing the very Person of the Son of God, the Word made flesh, necessarily implies that we also observe all that He speaks to us. In fact, failure to follow His continuous and gentle command to love will result in us being unable to clearly hear Him at all. We will become confused and will easily become directed by the many other voices in our world, unable to discern the glorious path chosen for us by our Lord.

    Reflect, today, upon whether or not you struggle in any way with both hearing and observing the voice of God. If this is your struggle, then recommit yourself to a time of humble and wholehearted discovery. Tell our Lord that you are sorry for not being attentive to Him and set yourself on a mission to seek and find Him. Reject the confusion and anxiety of life, reject the many other voices of “wisdom” within our world, and listen for His gentle but clear voice. He is always speaking. He is always calling you. He is always present. Open the eyes of your soul and give Him your full attention. And when you sense Him speaking to you, respond with the utmost generosity and obedience. Doing so will result in you discovering what it means to be truly blessed by our Lord.

    My blessed Lord, You are glorious beyond all things, and You invite me and all Your creatures to share in Your very life. Give me the grace I need to turn from the confusion and deceptions of life so that I will hear only You and respond only to Your voice. I commit myself to Your holy will, dear Lord. As I do, please bestow upon me every blessing You desire to give. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Luke 11:23

    These words are embedded within several powerful teachings of Jesus, but, in many ways, this single sentence can stand alone as an important Christian truth. Specifically, it tells us that we cannot be neutral in our position regarding Jesus and all that He has taught us. This is an important message in the world today.

    Today, there seems to be a growing secular value that we might call “neutrality.” We are told by many in the world that we must accept any morality, any lifestyle, any choice that others make. And though it is true that we must always love and accept every person and treat them with the utmost dignity and respect, it is not true that we should be neutral to the choices and secular values that some choose to live and express. Sadly, when we do speak the full truth, especially the many moral truths our Lord has revealed, we are often labeled as judgmental. But this is not the truth.

    This quote above from today’s Gospel makes it clear that we cannot remain indifferent to the teachings of our Lord and still remain in His good graces. In fact, Jesus makes it clear that the opposite is true. He says that if we are not with Him, meaning, if we do not accept all that He has revealed, then we are, in fact, against Him. Being neutral on matters of faith and morality is not actually being neutral at all. It’s a choice that some make that has the clear effect of separating them from Jesus.

    For example, regarding matters of faith, if someone were to say, “I do not believe in the Eucharist,” then they are, in fact, rejecting God. And though it is not our duty to be their judge, it is our duty to acknowledge that they have expressed a belief contrary to the truth. They are in error, and if they persist in this error, then they do separate themselves from God. That’s what Jesus is saying.

    The same is true regarding morality. There are many examples in the moral life that are becoming more and more blatant in their opposition to our Lord’s teaching. Thus, we must remind ourselves that when we reject a moral teaching given to us by our Lord, we reject Jesus Himself.

    Jesus goes even further when He says that “whoever does not gather with me scatters.” In other words, it’s not enough to simply personally believe all that Jesus taught, we must also teach it to others. If we do not and if we, instead, offer a false form of “acceptance” of another’s error, then we are actually working against Jesus. We all have a moral duty to actively promote the truths of the Gospel given to us by our Lord.

    Reflect, today, upon how fully you are “with” our Lord and “gather” with Him. Do you fully accept all that He has taught and also seek to gather many others for the Kingdom of God? If you do not see yourself actively believing in and participating in the mission of our Lord, then heed these words of Jesus and allow them to gently but firmly challenge you, so that you will more fully work to build up God’s Kingdom in your own heart and in the world all around you.

    My glorious King, You desire to build up Your Kingdom in my life and, through me, in the lives of others. Give me the grace and courage I need to fully accept all that You have taught me and to actively become an instrument of Your grace and truth in the world. May I be with You in all things, dear Lord, and gather many into Your loving arms of grace. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him…’” Luke 11:5–6

    Unless your friend were truly a very close friend, you may hesitate in waking them and their family at midnight to ask to borrow some food. And even if it were a very close friend, you would probably hesitate for fear of disturbing them. But in this parable, the “friend” is God. Jesus just finished giving His disciples the “Our Father” prayer, and now He adds this parable as a way of expressing the great confidence and determination with which we must pray to the Father. The parable concludes by stating that even if the person in bed does not get up to meet the request, they will do so “because of his persistence.” And though God always is attentive to our prayer, our persistence is an essential quality we must have.

    When we pray to God with persistence, never doubting the goodness and generosity of God, God will pour forth upon us everything that is good. Of course, if our prayer is for something that is selfish or not in accord with the will of God, then all the begging in the world will not be effective. But when we pray as the “Our Father” prayer teaches us, then we can be certain that our fidelity to that prayer, prayed with the utmost trust and persistence, will effect the good gifts of the will of God in our lives.

    One of the seven petitions of the “Our Father” prayer is “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” This is a truly beautiful petition that requires not only ongoing persistence but also detachment from our preference in life. To pray that “God’s” will be done and that “His” Kingdom come is a way of also saying that you surrender all of your preferences to God. You come to God acknowledging that your will may not be God’s will. Thus, this petition expresses detachment in a powerful way.

    Reflect, today, upon the importance of praying with the utmost fervor and persistence to God. Reflect, also, upon the importance of doing so with detachment. What does God want of you? What is His holy will for your life? Seek that will and that will alone with all your heart and you will discover that His will truly will come to be in your life.

    My perfect Lord, Your will and Your will alone is what I want and seek. I seek it with all the powers of my soul. Help me to grow in confidence in You and Your goodness. May I trust in You and believe with all my heart that You truly will bring forth Your holy will in my life if I only persist in prayer and trust. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

    What a great prayer for us to pray also, “Lord, teach us to pray…” Jesus’ response to this disciple was to present him with the “Our Father” prayer. Of this prayer, Saint Andre Bessette said, “When you say the Our Father, God's ear is next to your lips.” The great mystical Doctor of the Church Saint Teresa of Ávila gave this advice while praying the Lord’s Prayer: “Much more is accomplished by a single word of the Our Father said, now and then, from our heart, than by the whole prayer repeated many times in haste and without attention.” And Saint Thérèse of Lisieux said that the “Our Father” prayer was one of the prayers she prayed when she felt so spiritually barren that she could not summon up a single worthwhile thought.

    At the Holy Mass, when the priest invites the people of God to pray the “Our Father,” he says, in part, that this prayer is one that “...we dare to say.” This is an interesting statement which especially reveals the childlike boldness we are called to have as we pray this prayer sincerely from the heart. It is exceptionally bold to call God our “Father.”

    Chapter 11 of My Catholic Worship, which offers a teaching on this perfect prayer, states the following about this boldness:

    Each Christian is to see the Father as my Father. We must see ourselves as God’s children and approach Him with the confidence of a child. A child with a loving parent is not afraid of that parent. Rather, children have the greatest trust that their parents love them no matter what. Even when they sin, children know they are still loved. This must be our fundamental starting point for all prayer. We must start with an understanding that God loves us no matter what. With this understanding of God, we will have all the confidence we need to call on Him.

    Since many of us are very familiar with this ideal prayer taught to us by our Lord Himself, there is a temptation to pray this prayer in a somewhat rote way. We can easily fail to say it from the depths of our hearts, making each word our own, offered with the utmost confidence to our loving Father in Heaven.

    How do you pray the Lord’s Prayer? Do you pray it out of habit, failing to fully comprehend and mean the words you pray? Most likely this is the case for many.

    Reflect, today, upon this most holy prayer given to us by the Son of God Himself. He is the author of this perfect prayer, so we should use it as the foundation of all of our prayer. Try to follow the advice of Saint Teresa of Ávila quoted above. Take each word of that prayer and pray it slowly, intentionally and with love. Begin by acknowledging God as your Father. Ponder the infinite care He has for you as a perfect father would. See Him in a real, intimate, and personal way. This perfect prayer begins by acknowledging Who God is and then continues with seven perfect petitions. After praying the introduction to this prayer, pick one of the seven petitions to meditate upon so that the richness of this prayer will have a transformative effect upon your soul.

    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. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Luke 10:40–42

    In many ways, this statement of our Lord summarizes the most important and central message of the Gospel. We are all called to choose “the better part” every day.

    Jesus was close friends with Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He frequently visited their home, which was only a short distance from Jerusalem. On this occasion, when Jesus was visiting their home, one of these siblings, Mary, had placed herself at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him and conversing with Him. Martha was busy with the important details of hospitality and appeared to be upset with Mary, so she confronted Jesus, asking Him to tell Mary to help her. But in so doing, she was also unknowingly trying to dissuade Mary from the most important purpose of her life.

    As Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, she gave us an example of the most important focus we must have in life. Though our days will be filled with many necessary duties, such as cooking, cleaning, working, entertainment, and caring for others, we must never forget that which we were made for and that which we will be doing for all eternity: adoration of our glorious God.

    Consider all that occupies your day. Though most of what you do may be important, do you daily take time out to adore our Lord, listen to Him and glorify Him through your prayer? We can often make time for many other important duties in life, as well as those that are not so important. We may spend hours on chores, immerse ourselves in movies, devote whole evenings to reading, fulfill our duties in the workplace, but only devote a minute or two each day, if even that, to silent prayer and adoration of our God!

    What would happen to your life if you chose “the better part” for a full hour every day? What if you decided that the first hour of your day would be dedicated to an imitation of Mary in the Gospel passage and that you would do nothing but adore Jesus through silent prayer and meditation? At first, you may think of the many other tasks you could be doing at that moment. You may decide that you do not have the time for extended prayer every day. But is that true? Perhaps you are actually being Martha to yourself, saying to yourself that you should do more important things with your time and that Jesus will understand if you do not spend time with Him alone in adoration and prayer every day. If that is you, then be very attentive to this Gospel passage. In many ways, Jesus deeply desires to say this about you. He wants to say of you that you have chosen the better part for an extended period of time every day and that this will not be taken from you.

    Reflect, today, upon that which is most important in life. Dispel excuses and temptations to simply fulfill all the other important duties of life, neglecting that which is most important. Reflect upon the simple truth that Jesus does want you to devote much time to Him every day for silent prayer and adoration. Do not give into excuses and distractions. Commit yourself to remain at the feet of Jesus, adoring Him, listening to Him and loving Him. If you do, you will find that your life is more ordered and that the time you spend in prayer bears more good fruit than every other important duty you fulfill every day.

    My inviting Lord, I do believe that adoration of You in silent and devout prayer is the most important duty I have to fulfill every day. May I never be deterred from adoring You every day, devoting as much time as You desire to silent and loving prayer. May I discover this gift of prayer, dear Lord, and sit at Your feet with Mary and with all the glorious saints. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25

    The question is very good. We should all seek to understand, with all our hearts, what we must do to inherit eternal life. Of course the problem is that this scholar of the law did not ask this question with sincerity and openness. Rather, he asked Jesus this question to test our Lord. This scholar, as well as other scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and elders, was envious of Jesus and sought to find fault with Him. This scholar appeared to be concerned that Jesus was teaching contrary to the Law of Moses. But what does our Lord do? He says nothing more than to put the question back to the scholar, asking him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The scholar answers correctly, according to the Law of Moses, and Jesus responds to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Thus, the test was passed.

    What’s interesting and helpful to ponder in this exchange is the way Jesus responds to this scholar. Because Jesus knew the scholar’s heart, and because He knew that this scholar was not asking with humility and openness, Jesus responded with great prudence, inviting the scholar of the law himself to answer his own question. Though we are not able to read another’s heart in the way our Lord did, we should learn a lesson from Him on how to respond to others who have as their goal to trick, trap, test, and twist our words if they disagree with us. This is especially important in matters of faith and morality. If you are striving to live the Gospel with all your heart and you encounter the “testing” of others as a result of the holy life you are striving for, ponder Jesus’ actions here. Too often, when another challenges us or tests us, we become defensive and even offended. As a result, we can enter into arguments back and forth that bear little or no fruit. Jesus did not argue. He did not allow this test to trip Him up. Rather, He only offered responses that could not be doubted. Jesus knew that this scholar was not interested in the deepest spiritual truths. He was only interested in finding fault. Therefore, the deeper and fuller Gospel message could not be offered.

    We should also learn from this passage the importance of coming to Jesus with an open heart, sincerely seeking the deepest spiritual answers to life. We ought never test Jesus. Instead, in humility, we must believe that He is the source of all truth and that He has every answer in life that we seek.

    Reflect, today, upon two things. First, reflect upon how completely open you are to all that Jesus has to say. If you were to ask our Lord this question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?,” what would Jesus say to you? Would He only be able to offer you general answers in the form of questions? Or would Jesus see the open and sincere nature of your heart and be able to speak in great depth and detail to you? Second, reflect upon anyone with whom you constantly have to defend yourself for the practice of your faith. If this is your experience, perhaps reexamine your approach, realizing that the deepest pearls of your faith should only be shared with those who are sincerely open and are seeking to embrace them with all their heart.

    My deep and wise Lord, You and You alone have every answer to life. You and You alone can reveal to me all that I need to know in life so as to achieve holiness and fulfillment. Please open my heart so that I can come to You with humility and sincerity, open to all that You wish to reveal to me. Jesus, I trust in You.

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  • “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Mark 10:6–9

    Those three words, “From the beginning,” are key words for our day and age. It is important for people of faith to recognize not only the supernatural gifts God has given us but also the natural gifts. The supernatural gifts are all those gifts given us by the Cross of Christ. His life, death and Resurrection poured forth upon us grace from Heaven and made holiness, salvation and Heaven possible. But there is a whole other order of “gift” that God gave us that we often take for granted. That’s the gift of nature.

    Creation itself, the order of the Universe, our humanity and the natural design of God are all gifts. Science can do much to discover the secrets and mysteries of the natural world, but ultimately a full understanding of even the natural world is mysterious, deep and awe-inspiring.

    One aspect of the natural world God gave us is our sexuality. “God made them male and female…” This natural design is part of the glorious wisdom of the Creator and must be understood, loved and respected fully. Being “male and female” is something that is quite obvious and naturally understood. Within each person are certain attributes, desires, tendencies, etc., that go hand in hand with being either male or female.

    In many ways, the uniqueness and complementarity of the sexes have been challenged and even disregarded at times, especially in our day and age. But deep down we all understand that being male or female is part of who we are. It makes up our very identity as a person and brings with it many blessings. Femininity and masculinity, at times, also can become distorted and confused. But in essence, these attributes of our personhood cannot be discarded or denied. In fact, embracing who we are in our nature is nothing more than being honest and enables us to continue down the road of true natural integrity.

    Reflect, today, upon the many ways that being “male and female” are natural blessings from God. Reflect, also, upon the ways that these natural gifts are challenged and undermined in our world today. Embrace who you are, embrace who God made you to be, and let that natural gift from God flourish in your life.

    Lord, I thank You for Your countless gifts. Thank You for the gift of grace won by Your Cross, and thank You also for the gift of nature and for the way You made me. Help me to embrace my full identity in accord with Your design and, in that embrace, help me to continue to discover my very dignity. Jesus, I trust in You.

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