19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

http://ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/16_08_07.mp3

Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19

Wisdom 18:6-9
Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-22
Luke 12:32-48

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1)

Famous people who excel in their field can also be considered authors. People like Frederick Taylor and Peter Drucker “wrote the book” on modern management. People like Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart “wrote the book” on classical music. People like Abraham Lincoln and Václav Havel “wrote the book” on leadership in government.

In his own way, Jesus “wrote the book” on life with God. Scripture tells us, “We have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). On the cross, Jesus gave us everything we need—once and for all. Still, we will grow in faith only to the extent that we continue to embrace that “offering of the body of Jesus Christ.”

When the author of Hebrews calls faith the “realization of what is hoped for,” he is talking about an ongoing, ever deepening realization of all that Jesus has won for us (Hebrews 11:1). Our faith is meant to be living and active, capable of growing as we welcome the Lord into our lives.

Every Mass presents us with an opportunity to do just that. When we receive the Eucharist, we are asking Jesus to open our eyes to his love and his wisdom in a new and deeper way. We are asking him to help us realize his mysteries more fully. And loving Savior that he is, he does just that.

At the same time, our response to Jesus should extend past the moment when we receive Communion. It should move us to follow him throughout the day, trying our best to stay close to him in good times and in bad.

So how should we respond to God’s grace today? By looking at the cross during Mass and saying, “Thank you, Jesus.” By asking Jesus for the faith to help you enjoy life’s blessings and get through its demands. By telling Jesus, “I trust that you have prepared a heavenly city for me.”

“Jesus, help me to put my faith in you each day, every day.”~Word Among Us

 

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Pentecost Sunday (Solemnity)

today’s readings

Acts 2:1-11

Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34
1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13
John 20:19-23

Pentecost Sunday (Solemnity)

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4)

“The Holy Spirit is the love of God. Within the Trinity, he is the flame of love going from the Father to the Son, and from the Son to the Father.” ~Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa

We may not know exactly how to grasp this exchange of love between the Father and the Son, but we can catch a glimpse of it when we see a loving married couple. Their love for each other is energizing; it’s creative, life-giving, and inspiring. They are not closed in on themselves; they are open and welcoming to everyone around them.

Fr. Cantalamessa goes on: “To say that the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit means that they were filled with the love of God. . . . Pentecost was the moment when each of the apostles had the overwhelming experience of being loved by God.”

Pentecost, he concludes, “is the moment when, by the grace of God, you realize that you are specially loved by God as his precious son or daughter.”

The Holy Spirit wants to fill each of us with experiences of this love, just as he did for the apostles. So take some time today to visualize God’s perfect love. Picture it flowing between the Father and the Son without constraints or roadblocks. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with this love. It doesn’t have to be complicated. All you have to do is say something simple like “Holy Spirit, fill me with God’s love.”

See if you find a new joy in your heart, a deeper sense of peace, or a greater appreciation for Jesus. For the rest of the day, keep asking the Holy Spirit to show you how much God loves you. Like the apostles, you may be overwhelmed by God’s presence in your heart. And that’s perfectly fine because it’s exactly what the Spirit came to do!

“Come, Holy Spirit, and fill me with God’s love.”~WAU

 

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January 25, 2015 The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle (Feast)

Today’s Readings

Psalm 117:1-2
Mark 16:15-18

Acts 22:3-16

Why delay? (Acts 22:16)

Think of two newlyweds. They may tell their friends about the fireworks that went off when they first met. Perhaps she talks about how she first saw him at a dance and was “knocked off her feet.” Perhaps he tells of how he was so nervous that he barely knew what to say to her. It’s all so exciting, but there is much more to their story than these first impressions. There was a first date, followed by many more dates, phone calls, and long conversations. It took a while before they were ready for marriage.

That progression also applies to St. Paul. As we see in today’s reading, the day he met Jesus was the most unforgettable day of his life. It literally knocked him off his feet! He went from a sworn enemy of Christianity to one of its greatest champions.

Again, it didn’t stop there. Paul had many more encounters with Jesus that we aren’t told about. Some may not have been as dramatic as his first one, but each one was still important in its own right. And with each encounter, his knowledge and love of the Lord grew.

Maybe you had a dramatic conversion experience like Paul’s. Or maybe your “conversion” was more gradual and unfolded over the course of many years. Whatever your situation, know that you are not finished encountering Jesus. He has more to give you. He has more to teach you.

Imagine the marvel that occurs every time you come into his presence, whether in your private prayer, at Adoration, or in the Mass. Jesus Christ, Lord of the universe, comes down from heaven to be present to you—no matter who you are or what you have done or failed to do. He comes to show you his love more deeply. He comes to give you courage and strength to face your challenges. He comes to give you a taste of his peace. And most important, he comes to join you to himself more deeply.

So why delay? Today—and every day—is a perfect opportunity to meet Jesus and be more deeply converted to him.

“Lord, help me to encounter you in a special way today. Fill me with your fire, and give me a new boldness to spread your gospel of peace.”~WAU

 

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January 24, 2016 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10

Psalm 19:8-10, 15
1 Corinthians 12:12-30
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Today’s Audio Readings

Today is holy to your Lord your God. (Nehemiah 8:9)

In today’s first reading, the Israelites were reaffirming their covenant with the Lord as they listened to Ezra the priest reading and interpreting the Scriptures. Having had their city overrun, having been sent into exile, and now having returned as a ragtag group to try to rebuild their lives, the people had endured one humiliating event after the other. But now, they saw a light at the end of the tunnel. They were beginning to come together again.

Ezra gave the people three short messages. First, he told them, “Today is holy to your Lord.” Then, he urged them to celebrate their deliverance with “rich foods” and “drink.” Then, he told them, “Rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:9-10).

This reading also describes the people’s response. They gathered for the entire morning, from daybreak until midday, to pray. And their prayer was one of full involvment: They listened “attentively.” They stood up, raised their hands, bowed down in worship, and cried out, “Amen, amen” (Nehemiah 8:3, 6).

Now, let’s shift our minds to today. Each Sunday, we come to Mass to celebrate what God has done for us. As the day of the resurrection, every Sunday is holy. Like the Israelites, we celebrate our deliverance from death. And like them, we look forward to our final homecoming—heaven. We have much to celebrate!

So let’s be sure to come to Mass today ready to express our gratitude for Jesus’ cross and to rejoice in our freedom.

But there is more. If you come with a listening heart, the word of God will come to life for you. Jesus’ sacramental presence will fill your heart with his love and his grace to live a holy life. If you come with the right disposition, as the Israelites did, God will surely fill you up!

“Thank you, Jesus, for your deliverance! Lord, I believe in you and celebrate your love today.”~WAU

 

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January 17, 2015 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Audio Readings

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10
1 Corinthians 12:4-1

John 2:1-11

They have no wine. (John 2:3)

This is one of those stories that appears only in the Gospel of John. No one is sure why John included it, but one thing is certain. It tells us about the faith of a very special woman, the Virgin Mary.

We can’t assume that Mary had first received Jesus’ permission before she told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). If anything, you might expect Mary to have been intimidated by her son’s stern response: “How does your concern affect me?” (2:4). Jesus told her that it was not the right time for him to get involved.

But John makes it clear that Mary is special. She could actually get Jesus to change his mind. John also shows us how much Jesus loved his mother and wanted to please her. He cared about the things that were important to her, even if it meant rescuing a party before the time had come for him to manifest himself.

Mary’s close relationship with Jesus is the primary reason why she is such a powerful intercessor. It’s why the Church invites us to go to her with all of our needs and ask her to “pray for us sinners.” You can just imagine the scene in heaven described by a popular legend: if Mary is talking to Jesus about the different prayer requests that people have entrusted to her, all the other saints have to wait until she is done before they bring their prayers to him. Mary always gets Jesus’ undivided attention!

Like the ascending and descending ladder in Jacob’s dream, Mary is a link between heaven and earth. She loves to take our intercessions and our petitions to Jesus. At the same time, she delights in receiving grace and blessings from heaven and planting them in our hearts.

So bring your needs to the one who is full of grace. And try your best to listen when she says, “Do whatever Jesus tells you.”

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.”~WAU

 

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January 10, 2016 The Baptism of the Lord (Feast)

Today’s Audio Readings

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29:1-4, 9-10
Acts 10:34-38

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

The Baptism of the Lord (Feast)

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 3:16)

When we think about the baptism of Jesus, three different baptisms come to mind: his baptism in the Jordan River, his baptism on the cross, and his desire to baptize us in his Holy Spirit.

First, when he was baptized by John, Jesus showed how deeply he wanted to be joined with all of us, sinners though we are. As St. Paul explained, Jesus became sin for us so that in him “we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Through his baptism, he took on our sin and carried it with him until the day of his death on the cross.

Second, there is Jesus’ baptism on the cross. He once told his disciples, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50). When James and John wanted Jesus to guarantee them a special place in heaven, he replied: “Can you … be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38). He knew that his cross was the culmination of everything that his baptism in water began. All the sin that he accepted was put to death, and we were redeemed!

But it doesn’t end at the cross. Third, Scripture tells us that Jesus now wants to baptize all of us “with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 3:16). He wants to share the fruit of his baptism with us by immersing us in his Holy Spirit—just as he baptized the first apostles on Pentecost.

Today’s feast is an invitation for us to ask, “Do I know the freedom from sin that Jesus’ baptism won for me?” It’s also an invitation to ask, “How well do I know the Holy Spirit?” Just as the Spirit came upon him when he was baptized, this same Spirit wants to come upon us and empower us to live a godly life.

“Thank you, Jesus, for being baptized for me. Now come and fill me with your Spirit!”~WAU

 

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The January 3, 2016 Epiphany of the Lord (Solemnity)

Today’s Audio Readings

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6

Matthew 2:1-12

In the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived. (Matthew 2:1)

Experience tells us that if you wake up expecting that you’re going to have a bad day, then you’ll most likely have a bad day. But if you wake up looking forward to the day, there’s a good chance your day will turn out well. It’s a simple illustration of how our attitudes can affect our behaviors, which then affect the way we deal with all kinds of situations.

Today’s Gospel gives us a striking example of how powerful our predispositions can be. First, we meet King Herod, who is “greatly troubled” by news of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:3). Then, we meet the magi, who are “overjoyed” by the exact same event (2:10). Both grasp that a new king has been born, and both are eager to see him—but for different reasons. Herod, insecure about his grasp on power, sees Jesus as a threat and uses deception to try to destroy him. The magi, seekers of wisdom, are excited by the news and hurry to offer royal gifts to the child.

We all can point to ways that fear, envy, or some other negative emotion has colored the way we approach a situation. Instead of remembering that Jesus is always seeking to do us good, we think that he has forgotten us or, worse, that he is punishing us. But if we can face each situation with an open heart, ready to find God’s presence, fear and doubt will begin to melt away. We’ll find Jesus in unexpected, unlikely places—just as the magi found almighty God in the modest home of Mary and Joseph.

So when you are in a moment of fear or doubt, pause, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you find God’s presence. Ask him to help you take on a more open, trusting attitude. As you do, you’ll discover the kind of joy and even awe that the magi felt.

“Holy Spirit, direct my attitude today. Help me to sense your guidance, and fill my heart with your joy.”~WAU

 

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