2nd Week of Easter, Monday

Nicodemus in today’s Gospel believes Our Lord is working signs that show his union with God, but he is far from the bold disciples exulting in the Holy Spirit in today’s First Reading after Peter and John gave witness to Jesus before the Sanhedrin. He comes at night not only to avoid being detected as a disciples, but because he is in the dark about the big picture: he’s not yet received the grace to fully understand Our Lord and his mission. Seeing the big picture is not just something to be worked out with the knowledge and reason at hand: it requires being born into a new life where the Holy Spirit helps you see.

Our Lord today speaks of being born above, and of being born of water and the Spirit. If you want to see the Kingdom of God or enter it, this rebirth is necessary. We believe this happens through the grace that God gives via Baptism. It is not just water, and not just Spirit; both are needed. The sacraments are visible signs of invisible graces, instituted by Christ, and Baptism is the gateway to all others.

The octave of Easter ended yesterday remembering Divine Mercy, but also those just baptized at the Easter Vigil. Let’s pray for all those recently born of water and the Spirit through Baptism.

Readings: Acts 4:23–31; Psalm 2:1–9; John 3:1–8.

2nd Week of Lent, Monday

If you’ve never sinned and never done anything you regret, you can stop reading. I suspect everyone is still reading…

People joke about Catholic guilt, but guilt can he healthy for the soul if it leads to us seeking and accepting God’s mercy. Lent is a time for us to consider our failings and admit them, because that’s the only way we can be healed of them and help others be healed of their effects as well. In today’s First Reading Daniel’s prayer is directed to the Lord when Israel is in exile due to its sins, and Daniel doesn’t try to justify himself or his people.

They blew it. We’ve blown it. When we stand before the Judge we have no legal defense for what we’ve done or failed to do. All we can do is admit we’ve blown it and ask the Lord for mercy. It’s no surprise that we shy away from the sacrament of Reconciliation at times; nobody is proud of going into a confessional and admitting that he or she has sinned. Reconciliation brings closure and peace. When we shy away from admitting our sins, little by little we fall into one of two extremes: either we diminish their weight in our eyes until we don’t see them as sins at all, or we convince ourselves in some warped notion of justice that God will never forgive us for what we’ve done.

If you’ve slacked off on receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, Lent is a good time to return to it. Catholic guilt is not the last word; God’s boundless mercy is.

Readings: Daniel 9:4b–10; Psalm 79:8–9, 11, 13; Luke 6:36–38. See also 23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday and 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.

7th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year I

A wise person is someone who has everything figured out, and a source of advice for making good decisions. Sirach in today’s First Reading reminds us that wisdom itself comes from God, and it abounds throughout creation to help us to make good decisions. The Lord didn’t just create everything with intelligence; something can have an ingenious design and function, yet be horrible in its uses. The Lord created things with wisdom: not just designed well, but reflecting a good purpose.

The Lord encourages us not only to use things correctly, but wisely. Wisdom is drawing from the Lord’s “blueprint” in order to be, to make, or to do something in harmony with his greater purpose. Sirach today teaches that the Lord lavishes wisdom upon his friends. Being at odds with the Lord is foolish, and the foolish close themselves off from wisdom.

The Lord’s friends have an edge: Jesus Christ is not only wise, but the Wisdom of God, and the Holy Spirit still pours out wisdom on those who seek it. Let’s ask Our Lord today to reconnect us with his wise blueprint for creation.

Readings: Sirach 1:1–10; Psalm 93:1–2, 5; Mark 9:14–29. See also 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II and 18th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.

6th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year I

Last Friday we recalled the sad moment when sin entered into the world, and with today’s First Reading we recall when death entered into the world for the first time. It was about as unnatural a death as you can imagine, an older brother killing his younger brother out of envy and anger. Abel had done nothing other than be pleasing to God. Cain was more complicated; he didn’t give the best of what he had to God, and God called him out on it. Yet he didn’t blame God; he blamed Abel for making him look bad. The Lord tried to explain to him that the true cause of his resentment and gloom was that he didn’t do a good job. It was not too late to change for the better, and Cain was in spiritual danger if he didn’t.

Cain failed on so many levels. An older brother should watch over his younger brother, and he killed him instead. Cain owed the Lord the best of everything, and he gave him second best. The Lord gave him good advice, and he ignored it. This was the second time in salvation history, but it wouldn’t be the last. The deep sigh today of Our Lord in today’s Gospel is the sigh of a big brother who does want his brothers and sisters to do the best, and to help them do it, even when they don’t.

Let’s turn to our big brother today knowing he will always watch out for us, and with his advice, we’ll never let him down or our Father.

Readings: Genesis 4:1–15, 25; Psalm 50:1, 8, 16b–17, 20–21; Mark 8:11–13.

5th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year I

Today’s First Reading begins book of Genesis with the story of Creation, the beginning of everything we experience in this life. The first thing the Lord creates is light, and the presence and absence of light marks the difference between night and day. Usually it takes a blackout for us to appreciate the gift of light, not so much as a sign of electricity, but as something that enables us to see. Close your eyes tight and imagine a world without light. Genesis reminds us today that even before the sun, moon, and stars were made, the Lord brought light into the world.

John in the prologue to his Gospel, inspired by the creation of light in Genesis, describes Our Lord as the true light coming into the world. In today’s Gospel the news of Jesus’ miraculous healing makes him a “beacon” that everyone seeks for the sake of their sick loved ones and friends. Sin introduced a darkness into creation; Our Lord has come to banish that darkness with his light.

Let’s thank Our Lord today for the light he brings into the world.

Readings: Genesis 1:1–19; Psalm 104:1–2a, 5–6, 10, 12, 24, 35c; Mark 6:53–56. See also 5th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.