8th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year I

In today’s Gospel Our Lord assures us that when we give up the things that are dear to us–family, home, wealth–we’ll be blessed a hundred fold. In the First Reading we’re reminded that God rewards those who do what is pleasing to him. In the Gospel today it goes one step further. When we put Our Lord and his Gospel first, even in the sad cases where our loved ones don’t understand, we become part of a much larger family, and family that is all heading, one day, to our true home. We called priests “Father,” religious, “Brother, Sister, or Mother,” and we experience that wherever we go, there are believers, our brothers and sisters in the faith, who welcome us into their homes and share the blessings they have received from God. If we are separated briefly from our biological family and the place where we were born, we know that through serving the Gospel we are honoring God, our family, and our nation.

It’s not easy: Jesus warns us today that the persecutions will not go away. Even those we love don’t understand sometimes, much less the world that often transmits a message of looking our for number one and nobody else. That message fills the world with strangers, foreigners, and wildernesses, urban or otherwise. Neighborhoods become more of a place where isolated people or families reside rather than a community that looks out for each other. The Gospel keeps us open to everyone, keeps extending the invitation to become part of the family one smile at a time, one kind gesture at a time. And the people who have persevered on that path have not regretted it.

Let’s thank Our Lord today for all the sacrifices we have made putting his Gospel first, for all the blessings that have come of it, and pray that more people may come to be part of our family.

Readings: Sirach 35:1–12; Psalm 50:5–8, 14, 23; Mark 10:28–31.


8th Week of Ordinary Time, Monday, Year I

In today’s Gospel we hear of the man who will go down in history as the Rich Young Man. Perhaps he wanted to make a name for himself, but in the end he anonymously provides an example down through the centuries of “don’t let this happen to you”: don’t leave anything off limits to God, because sooner or later it will come between you and him. In the spiritual life we can form unhealthy attachments to things–wealth, health, relationships, etc.–and we can lose sight of the fact that everything we have and are is a gift from God, and should be used to serve him and to serve others.

The Rich Young Man today was loved by Our Lord, and that was why Jesus told him he had to make a choice. He had put his possessions and what they could be put to use for off limits, and, like a jealous lover, Our Lord told him, “it’s me or them: pick.” The Rich Young Man made the wrong choice. Many of the first Christians were called by nicknames, and who knows if the Rich Young Man was called to be Saint Generous or Saint Magnanimous.

Let’s ask Our Lord to show us today whatever there is in our life that we may be putting off limits to God, or may come between us and him. What’s important is to make the resolution to change, and, as Jesus promises the disciples, with God all things are possible.

Readings: Sirach 17:20–24; Psalm 32:1–2, 5–7; Gospel Mark 10:17–27.

Pentecost Sunday

Today is a day to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the whole Church. In the Gospel today Our Lord gives the Apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit to help them free people from sin and from error, just as today’s bishops and priests do by teaching the Gospel and celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation. In the First Reading we see the divisions and discord caused by sin, as the Old Testament story of the tower of Babel teaches us, start to be reversed by the Holy Spirit who enables believes to understand each other again and to welcome the Gospel into their hearts.

The work of salvation has been powered by the Holy Spirit from the beginning: it was in the power of the Holy Spirit that the Word became flesh in Mary’s womb, and raised Jesus from the dead. After Our Lord’s Ascension the Holy Spirit gives that vital impulse to help the Church to grow and reach unheard of places, even today. The Spirit continues to make Our Lord present through the sacraments, and pours grace into our hearts. The Spirit helps the Church’s shepherds to remain faithful to the Gospel message handed down from the Apostles and also gives spiritual gifts to believers in every walk of life to help build up the Church.

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit today to kindle in us the fire of God’s love so that we may help to renew the face of the earth through our holiness and through proclaiming the Gospel in a way that everyone can understand.

Readings: Acts 2:1–11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29–31, 34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b–7, 12–13; John 20:19–23.

7th Week of Easter, Saturday

Today’s readings bring us to the last words of the Acts of the Apostles and of the Gospel of John. The Easter season concludes tomorrow with Pentecost, and the readings prepare us for the next chapter of salvation history: our chapter. When Peter grows suspicious about the beloved disciple in today’s Gospel Our Lord gives him some sound advice: don’t worry about others, focus on following Christ. Peter’s concern is not the considerateness of a charitable outlook that seeks to identify a need someone has and to address it; rather, it’s one of those suspicious glances that can lead to rash judgments about others, unwarranted comparisons that can lead to discouragement or a superiority complex depending on how we (or they) measure up, and gossip.

Rumors had been flying about Jesus’ words to Peter about the beloved disciple and they’d caused such a stir that the author of the Gospel of John had to clarify what Jesus meant. We have to also be on guard against hanging around the rumor mill searching for some tidbit to satisfy our curiosity or to pride ourselves on being “in the know.” Some details about the lives of others are on a need to know basis and Our Lord will tell us if we need to know. We should concentrate on following him, not on how someone else is doing it (or not doing it).

Let’s ask Our Lord today to help close any rumor mills that cross our path, and to focus on following him. Let’s also ask for a prayerful attitude that praises God when we see him blessing others and entreats God’s help when we see others in spiritual difficulty.

Readings: Acts 28:16–20, 30–31; Psalm 11:4–5, 7; John 21:20–25.

7th Week of Easter, Friday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that he wants unconditional love from us, but also realizes our weakness and failings. It is not reflected in the English translations of this passage, but in the three times Jesus asks Peter “do you love me?”, the Greek shows us Jesus is inviting Peter to profess the greatest love a man can have, and, gently, Peter responds that he is not up to that after everything that has happened between them. It passes from an invitation to ἀγαπάω (a deep and unconditional love) to φιλέω (a brotherly love or an openness to friendship).

In the first invitation Jesus asks Peter if his love is deep and unconditional, and Peter responds that he has a brotherly love for Jesus. In the second invitation, Jesus asks Peter the same thing and Peter responds the same way: not a deep and unconditional love, but a brotherly love. Finally, in the third invitation, Jesus asks Peter whether his love for him is brotherly, and Peter, hurt that he keeps asking, responds in kind. With this invitation Jesus has brought it down to Peter’s level and Peter has had an opportunity to really explore and state his level of love for Jesus after having said before the Passion that his love was until death and then denied Jesus three times (see Luke 22:33–34 and John 18:15–27).

Jesus asks us for complete and unconditional love, but when we are weak, the love we can muster is enough, if it is from the heart. As Jesus extended the invitation to Peter, who knows whether he was asking him if Peter was still so confident that His love for Our Lord was total. But in the love Peter offered, he was firm. Our love will always be imperfect, but it must be firm, and Our Lord will always ask us, “do you love me” in those trying moments so that we have a new opportunity to tell Him we love Him. Let’s keep trying to grow in our love for him.

Readings: Acts 25:13b–21; Psalm 103:1–2, 11–12, 19–20b; John 21:15–19.