On retreat this week…


I’ll be starting an eight-day silent retreat this evening, so I’ll be offline and praying for you and your intentions.

The posts over the next week in Today’s Liturgy are scheduled for automatic posting, so apologies in advance for any technical glitches that may occur. God-willing you’ll still receive a daily reflection.

The blog posts will go live again on Sunday, October 4th.

God bless you!


25th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday

In today’s First Reading the Lord is encouraging the Israelites to not be discouraged because the Temple they are rebuilding will not have the same opulence or size as the first Temple that was destroyed when they were taken into exile. Through Haggai the Lord promises that blessings will fill it in a way that shakes up the world. The opulence of the Temple does not matter; the presence of the Lord and his Spirit is what matters, and he is with them.

When Our Lord today sounds out the disciples about the rumor mill surrounding him, and then what they think, they show an expectation of glory from whom they believe to be the “Christ of God”: the Messiah. Like the second Temple, they may experience discouragement when they realize how the Christ must accomplish his mission: it will shake them when the Messiah suffers and dies, but it will be a source of abundant fruits, just as the Lord promised through Haggai. The Lord himself will become that Temple from which the treasures of Baptism and the Eucharist flow, but only when the order of things is shaken up and in the eyes of the world a simple criminal is punished and executed.

We know in faith and hope that Our Lord will fulfill all our expectations, but also that sometimes it happens in a way we’d have never anticipated. Let’s renew our faith in the power of Our Savior today in order to weather whatever he needs to shake up in order to fill the world with his blessings. It may seem small, even insignificant in the eyes of the world, but it’ll be powerful.

Readings: Haggai 2:1–9; Psalm 43:1–4; Luke 9:18–22. See also 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

In today’s Gospel it’s fascinating that Herod, one of the most powerful men in Palestine, does not have a clear idea of who Jesus is and seems unable to meet him. It’s safe to say, considering what happened between him and St. John the Baptist, that this inability is self-inflicted. He’s not willing to do what it takes to know and encounter Our Lord.

Sin is a lack of communion with God; it makes him unintelligible and it takes us somewhere where he can’t go. Certain lifestyles isolate us from God, and we have to take the steps necessary to restore communion with him, to approach him once again, to try and understand him once again. Somewhere deep in Herod he knew that if he really wanted to find out about Our Lord, and see him, something in him had to change, and he wasn’t willing to do it. It’s funny that people see a virtuous life sometimes as putting a leash on your lifestyle, but a sinful life does worse: it convinces you that by accepting a leash–some vice, some destructive pleasure, some little concession to your principles–you’ll be freer. Eventually you don’t try to go beyond the limits imposed on you by the leash because, deep down, you know it’s there and don’t believe it’s possible to cast off that leash again and recover true freedom.

Herod stayed on his leash; he didn’t try to test its limits in order to get closer to Our Lord. Let’s ask Our Lord to help us cast off those “leashes” that separate us from him. He’ll help us cast off the leash and be truly free again.

Readings: Haggai 1:1–8; Psalm 149:1b–6a, 9b; Luke 9:7–9. See also Passion of St. John the Baptist and 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday

Today’s Gospel reminds us that the Gospel is meant to be good news. Do we treat it as such? Sometimes we may think of it as old news, or maybe even bad news for our lifestyle. Just as the Twelve were told to shake the dust off their feet in towns that did not welcome them, we need to shake off those things that keep us from living the Gospel as good news that we want to share. Pessimism is contagious. Optimism is seen by many as sentimental and insubstantial, but the Gospel is something much more: it is a message of hope. Hope goes way beyond optimism; it means that, in the end, something good, something wonderful will come of our trials and struggles. With God that something good and wonderful will last forever and put those trials and struggles into perspective.

The Twelve were sent to heal as well. This did not just mean physical maladies, but spiritual ones too. When we don’t seek this healing it’s because we don’t really believe healing is possible. There are lots of people who’d like physical and mental healing and put their faith in every sort of therapy, treatment, and medicine, but the spiritual affliction must be addressed too, if there is one. If they’re healed spiritually they’ll be able to face any physical or mental trial and see its spiritual fruitfulness.

Let’s make the Gospel good news for us again today and share the news. Let’s reach out to the afflicted and help them come to Our Lord for healing. And let’s shake the dust off our feet of anything that gets in the way of those two goals.

Readings: Ezra 9:5–9; Tobit 13:2–4b, 4e; Luke 9:1–6.

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that hearing the word of God is not enough; it has to be acted upon. God has put a plan into motion through his son, and he invites us to take part in it. In today’s First Reading the Israelites are rebuilding their Temple after years of exile and foreign oppression. Hellenic invaders had just made concerted effort, aided by some Israelites, to wipe out their cultural identity, and failed. Now under Persian rule they find a ruler who supports them in their faith. Through the Persian rulers, in response to hearing God’s will through the prophets, the Israelites reconstruct their Temple again as a place for God. In the past they’d separated themselves from God’s will, thinking that as long as the Temple was there, God was with them, but the Lord showed them a building and his will are two different things when they were exiled and their Temple destroyed. If we don’t build with God, nothing lasts.

Our Lord invites us to hear his word and act upon it by growing in holiness and spreading his word through evangelization. When his mother comes looking for him in today’s Gospel he is in the middle of doing exactly that: teaching and sanctifying a people who’ll come together and be built into his Church, in order to spread his word throughout the world. So is Mary; she’s bringing their relatives to Our Lord in order to hear God’s word and, hopefully, to act upon it.

Let’s ask Our Lord today how he wants us to put his word into action in our lives today, and how we can help him in the work of evangelization.

Readings: Ezra 6:7–8, 12b, 14–20; Psalm 122:1–5; Luke 8:19–21. See also 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.