All In! September 17, 2021


Friday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor—Optional Memorial

Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church—Optional Memorial

Video

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities… Luke 8:1–2

Our Lord was on a mission. He traveled on foot from one town to another, “preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.” His message truly was “good news.” He healed the sick, cast out demons and, most importantly, He forgave sins. As a result, many began to follow Him. Not only did His followers consist of the Twelve whom Jesus personally called and who He would eventually send forth as His Apostles, but others followed Him also. Today’s Gospel also mentions three women by name: Mary of Magdala, Joanna and Susanna. These are but a few of the people who were deeply touched by our Lord, who in turn left all to follow Him.

The choice of these first followers to abandon all and follow Jesus invites us to examine the extent to which we have committed our lives to following Him also. Among the many people who heard Jesus preach, there were undoubtedly various responses. Some rejected Him, others were intrigued by Him, others believed in Him but were not willing to become His disciple, and some did commit themselves wholeheartedly to Jesus and His mission of proclaiming good news. For the latter, the good news they heard changed their lives.

What is your response to our Lord? One good way to properly answer this question is to examine the amount of time and energy you have committed to our Lord and His message of good news. How much time have you spent reading His holy Word, praying to Him, speaking about Him and learning the faith that He has taught? How much does His message affect the decisions you make in life? Being a Christian is not something we can compartmentalize. We cannot have our “faith time” a few moments of each week and then spend the rest of our time on other activities. True, our days will be filled with many activities that are simply normal parts of our lives. We all have duties and responsibilities that occupy much of our days. But being “all in,” so to speak, means that Jesus and His message permeates everything we do. Even our ordinary daily activities such as work, chores, and the like must be done for God’s glory and in accord with His divine will.

For Jesus’ first followers, though they traveled with Him from town to town and radically changed the course of their daily lives, they still would have engaged in many ordinary activities. But those ordinary activities were ultimately done so as to help them and others fulfill their ultimate mission of listening to and responding to the Word of God.

Reflect, today, upon the extent that you have consecrated every part of your life to our Lord and His mission. Doing so does not necessarily require that you become a public evangelist, spend all day at Church or the like. It simply means that Jesus and His mission are invited into everything you do every day all day. We can never serve our Lord fully enough. As you examine your daily activity, look for ways to bring our Lord into everything you do. Doing so will truly make you one of His faithful disciples who are all in with your life.

My divine Lord, You are on a mission to save souls and to build up Your glorious Kingdom. I thank You for inviting me to not only become transformed by Your holy Word but to help spread that Word to others. My life is Yours, dear Lord. Please enter into every part of my daily life and use me for Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saints of the Day –

Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor

Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: John 1:43-45. With these and two other disciples, Philip and Nathaniel, Jesus journeyeth into Gallilee By William Hole, Wikimedia Commons

Mother Mary’s Sorrowful Heart Wednesday, September 15, 2021

 

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Readings for Today

Video

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25

Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Son of God, loved her Son with a perfect love. She enfleshed every virtue to perfection. Her love for her Son was a love that was beyond what we could ever imagine. She conceived Him miraculously, bore Him in her womb, gave birth to Him, nursed Him, raised Him and loved Him throughout His life. It’s difficult to even imagine the depth and beauty of the love she had for Jesus. Generally speaking, a mother’s love is powerful, unwavering, deep and filled with tenderness. Try to imagine the Immaculate Heart of Mother Mary and the amazing depth of love alive in her heart.

Imagine also the scene depicted in the Gospel passage quoted above. This loving mother stood at the foot of the Cross, gazing upon her crucified Son, continuing to exude every motherly virtue. And because it’s hard to fathom the depth of her love for her Son, it’s also very hard to imagine the depth of sorrow and interior suffering she endured as she watched the cruelty toward Jesus unfold. All she could do in that moment was stand by Him and with Him in this moment of extreme agony. Her love was expressed, in that moment, by her fidelity to Him.

What’s beautiful to know is that love, sorrow, compassion and suffering were united as one within her Immaculate Heart. Within the beauty of her heart was every human emotion, fueled by God’s grace, enabling her to give to her Son the greatest gift she had: her motherhood. She was a true mother throughout her life, and, in this moment, as her Son hung on the Cross, her motherhood culminated in a perfect human expression.

We all long to be loved by another. To give and receive love is the greatest gift that we can give and receive. Love is what we were made for and is the source of our fulfillment in life. We can be certain that as Mother Mary stood at the foot of the Cross, her human heart experienced the greatest fulfillment ever known. Her heart was fulfilled because she exercised her motherly love to perfection.

Gaze upon the image of the Mother of God this day. Ponder, especially, all that she would have experienced within her human heart. Though theologians could write volumes on this meditation, the best way to understand her heart of love is through prayerful meditation. Ask our Blessed Mother to reveal her heart to you today. Find some time to sit in silent adoration of this holy image of perfect motherly love. As you do, know two things. First, know that Mother Mary has this same depth of love for you. Do not doubt it. Her heart burns with compassion as she gazes upon you, even in your sin. Second, know that our Blessed Mother’s love must also fill your heart and overflow into the lives of others. We all must allow her compassion, concern, fidelity and mercy to flow through our hearts. Who do you need to love with the heart of our Blessed Mother? Seek to receive the love in the heart of the Mother of God and seek to give that love. Receive it in and then allow it to flow forth. There is truly nothing in this world more beautiful and awe inspiring than the holy image of this love.

My Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother, you stood at the foot of the Cross of your Son with the perfection of a mother’s love. Your heart was filled with a sorrow that was mixed with every holy virtue. Pray for me that I may understand this love more fully, so that I may also open up my own heart to your love. As I do, I pray that I will become an instrument of the love in your heart toward those in my life who suffer and are in most need of tender compassion and mercy. Sorrowful Heart of Mary, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Our Lady of Sorrows

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Christ on the Cross with the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, and Saint John, by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Transforming Power of the Cross Tuesday, September 14, 2021

 

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Readings for Today

Video

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  John 3:16–17

If Jesus would never have given His life on a cross for the salvation of the world, then a cross would never have been seen in “exultation.” A cross, in and of itself, is an instrument of death, a horrific and violent death. It’s also an instrument of humiliation and torture. Yet, today, the Cross is seen as a holy and blessed object. We hang crosses in our homes, wear them around our neck, keep them in our pocket on the end of the rosary, and spend time in prayer before them. The Cross is now an exalted image by which we turn to God in prayer and surrender. But that is only the case because it was on a cross that we were saved and brought to eternal life.

If you step back and consider the amazing truth that one of the worst instruments of torture and death is now seen as one of the holiest of images on earth, it should be awe inspiring. Comprehending this fact should lead us to the realization that God can do anything and everything. God can use the worst and transform it into the best. He can use death to bring forth life.

Though our celebration today, the “Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross,” is first and foremost a feast by which we give glory to the Father for what He did in the Person of His divine Son, it is also a feast by which we must humbly understand that God can “exalt” every cross we endure in life and bring forth much grace through them.

What is your heaviest cross? What is the source of your greatest suffering? Most likely, as you call this to mind, it is painful to you. Most often, our crosses and sufferings are things we seek to rid ourselves of. We easily point to crosses in life and blame them for a lack of happiness. We can easily think that if only this or that were to change or be removed, then our life would be better. So what is that cross in your life?

The truth is that whatever your heaviest cross is, there is extraordinary potential for that cross to become an actual source of grace in your life and in the world. But this is only possible if you embrace that cross in faith and hope so that our Lord can unite it to His and so that your crosses can also share in the exaltation of Christ’s Cross. Though this is a profoundly deep mystery of faith, it is also a profoundly deep truth of our faith.

Reflect, today, upon your own crosses. As you do, try not to see them as a burden. Instead, realize the potential within those crosses. Prayerfully look at your crosses as invitations to share in Christ’s Cross. Say “Yes” to your crosses. Choose them freely. Unite them to Christ’s Cross. As you do, have hope that God’s glory will come forth in your life and in the world through your free embrace of them. Know that these “burdens” will be transformed and become a source of exaltation in your life by the transforming power of God.

My exalted Lord, I turn to You in my need and with the utmost faith in Your divine power to save. Please give me the grace I need to fully embrace every cross in my life with hope and faith in You. Please transform my crosses so that You will be exalted through them and so that they will become an instrument of Your glory and grace. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Today’s Feast – Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: By Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Humility of Intercession September 13, 2021


Monday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor—Memorial

Video

“Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.” Luke 7:6–7

What’s interesting is that these humble words, spoken by a Roman centurion, were not actually spoken by the centurion to Jesus. This is because the centurion did not believe he was even worthy of going to Jesus himself. Therefore, he sent some of his friends to speak these words to Jesus on his behalf. In a real way, the friends of this centurion acted as intercessors before Jesus. Jesus’ response was to express amazement at the centurion’s faith. Jesus said to the crowd who was with Him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And at that point, the servant was healed by Jesus from a distance.

Most of the time, if we have an important request to make of another, we do so in person. We go to the person and speak face-to-face. And though we certainly can go to our Lord in prayer, face-to-face, person to Person, there is something very humble about bringing our needs to our Lord through the intercession of another. Specifically, there is something very humble about asking for the intercession of the saints.

Seeking the intercession of the saints before our Lord is not done because we are afraid of our Lord or because He would be offended by us going directly to Him. It is ideally done as an act of the utmost humility. By entrusting our prayer to those who are in Heaven, gazing upon the face of God, we do entrust our prayer to God. But relying upon the intercession of the saints is also a way of acknowledging that we are not worthy, by our own merits, to stand before the Lord and bring Him our request. This humility can be difficult to understand at times, but it’s important to try.

What is it that you need to pray for in your life right now? As you call that to mind, pick a saint to act as your friend and intercessor before God. Turn to that saint in humility and say a prayer to that saint, admitting that you are not worthy of going to our Lord on your own. Then entrust your petition to that saint and ask him or her to present that prayer to our Lord on your behalf. Praying to our Lord, through the intercession of a saint, is a way of also saying that you know Jesus’ response to you is pure mercy on His part. And the good news is that Jesus deeply desires to shower His mercy when we humble ourselves before Him, especially by coming to Him through the mediation of the saints.

Reflect, today, upon the humility of this well-respected Roman centurion. Try to understand the power of his humble approach by which he sent his friends to Jesus on his behalf. As you do, pick a saint in Heaven and ask them to go to our Lord on your behalf and request that our Lord grant you the same humility and faith as this centurion. Doing so will lead our Lord to be amazed at your faith and humility also.

Saints of God, please offer to Jesus my humble request that I grow more in humility and faith. My precious Lord, I do bring this and all my prayers to You. As I do, I acknowledge that I am not worthy of Your Divine Mercy. But through the mediation of the saints in Heaven, if it be Your will that You bestow Your mercy upon me, then I humbly make this request of You through them. Mother Mary, I especially entrust all my prayers to Your holy intercession. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Jesus and the Centurion by Paolo Veronese, via Wikimedia Commons

Suffering from the Divine Perspective September 12, 2021


Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Readings for Today

Video

Jesus began to teach the Apostles that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  Mark 8:31–33

This was most likely not the reply that Peter was expecting from Jesus.  Peter was struggling with fear as Jesus explained that He would be entering into much suffering and death at the hands of the religious leaders of the time.  Peter loved Jesus and was fearful and anxious about the thought of his Master suffering and being killed.  So Peter, motivated by fear and confusion, tried to “talk some sense” into Jesus.

The result?  Peter was rebuked in the presence of the other Apostles by Jesus.  Jesus went so far as to say, “Get behind me, Satan.”  That must have hurt.

To understand this properly, we must start with the obvious conclusion that Jesus’ words were words of great love.  Jesus is not capable of anything other than love.  Therefore, we must seek to understand how these strong words from Jesus were loving and holy.

The key to understanding this is the second thing Jesus said.  “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  Jesus had just revealed to the Apostles the deepest mystery of His life’s mission.  Namely, He just revealed that His mission was to accept unjust persecution and death at the hands of the religious leaders.  But in revealing this, it is also clear that He intended to bring good out of this suffering.  He would not have allowed this suffering if it were not for some greater good.  The hard part is that, in order to understand this great mystery of suffering, one needs a deep faith.  The Apostles were being challenged to see this situation from the divine perspective.  Peter was having a hard time doing so, and that is why Jesus had to challenge him so directly.

Jesus’ rebuke was a rebuke of love, helping Peter break free of his fear and limited vision so as to enter into this profound mystery of Jesus’ loving sacrifice.

Reflect, today, upon your own struggle with the Cross of Christ.  His sufferings continue to be made present in our world through the love and sacrifices of His sons and daughters.  When Christians suffer on account of their faith, we must see this from the eyes of God, not the eyes of men.  We must see the divine blessings that accompany such sufferings and we must accept them in accord with the great mystery of God’s plan.

Lord, I too lack the necessary faith to see the blessings that accompany Your Cross, as well as the many crosses I am given in life.  Help me to be purified in my faith so that I can see Your hand at work in all things, even suffering, injustice and persecution.  May I see life from Your perspective alone.  Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Rebuking or Calling of Saint Peter, via Wikimedia Commons

The Path You are On September 11, 2021


Saturday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

Jesus said to his disciples: “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.” Luke 6:43–44

What a great way to examine the direction of your life! This Gospel passage gets to the heart of how we can best discern whether or not we are truly fulfilling the will of God. Oftentimes we may struggle with knowing clearly if we are doing that which God wants of us. There are many directions in life that we can be pulled toward and many goals we can come up with on our own. For that reason, it is useful from time to time to stop and do an honest inventory of our lives.

When you look at the past year of your life, what do you see? Specifically, do you see good fruit being born? Such an examination is helpful to do from time to time. It is useful to make such an examination not only for the past year but for different time periods. Perhaps start by looking at the big picture by looking at all the times in your life that were most fruitful for the glory of God. From there, try to look at your life decade by decade, year by year and then even month by month over this past year. Look for the most blessed moments in your life as well as the most challenging moments.

When we examine our lives in this way, it’s important to understand what to look for. For example, there may be moments when all went well in one way or another and then other times that were painful and very difficult. What’s important to know, from a divine perspective, is that just because something “went well” at one point, or just because something was “painful and very difficult” at another point in our lives, this doesn’t mean that the former was the most fruitful for the Kingdom of God or the latter the least fruitful. In fact, heavy crosses and difficulties in life can often be the most fruitful times for us, spiritually speaking. Just look at Jesus’ life. Of course, everything He did was fruitful for the glory of the Father in Heaven, but we can easily point to the most painful moment of His life as the most fruitful. His Crucifixion brought forth the greatest good ever known.

So it is with our lives. The fruitfulness of our lives is not best discerned by looking at those moments when all was easy, fun, memorable and the like. Though those may also be graced moments, we need to look at spiritual fruitfulness from the divine perspective. We need to look for the moments in our lives, be they easy or difficult, when God was clearly present and when we made choices that gave Him the greatest glory.

Reflect, today, upon your life being like a tree that bears spiritual fruit. What times of your life, decisions you made, or activities that you were engaged in produced the most virtue in your life? When was your prayer life the deepest? When was your charity the strongest? When was your faith and hope the most evident? Return to those moments, savor them, learn from them and use them as the best building blocks for the glorious future our Lord desires for you.

My glorious Lord, Your life bore fruit of infinite value. You continually chose to fulfill the will of the Father in Heaven, and, as a result, You lived every virtue to perfection. Help me to regularly pause in life so as to examine the direction in which I am going. May I learn from my errors and rejoice in those moments that were most fruitful for Your Kingdom. I love You, Lord. Help me to bear the greatest fruit for Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Sermon on the Mount by Jan Brueghel the Elder, via Wikimedia Commons

Seeing Through the Eyes of God  September 10, 2021


Friday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?”  Luke 6:41

Saint Teresa of Ávila, one of the greatest spiritual writers and doctors of the Church, explains in her spiritual masterpiece “Interior Castles,” that one of the first steps on the path to holiness is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge produces humility, because humility is simply having a true opinion about yourself. When a person fails to know themself from the true perspective of the mind of God, then they open themselves up to many errors of judgment. One such error is that they can easily become fixated upon their perceived sins of others.

The Gospel passage quoted above depicts a person who gravely lacks self-knowledge. Why? Because they “do not perceive the wooden beam” in their own eye, meaning, they do not see their own sin. As a result, Jesus explains that this person also becomes fixated upon the “splinter” in their brother’s eye.

When you consider your own thoughts, what do you dwell upon the most all day long? Do you honestly look inward, seeking to know yourself as God knows you? Or do you spend excessive time thinking about others, analyzing and judging their actions? This is an important question to ask yourself and to answer with honesty.

The best way to know yourself is to gaze upon Jesus. When He becomes the focus of your attention throughout the day, you will not only come to know Him, but you will also come to know yourself more honestly. Gazing at the beauty and perfection of our Lord will have the double effect of knowing Him and knowing yourself through His eyes. It will also help you to know others as He sees them.

How does Jesus look at those around you? He looks at them with perpetual mercy. True, at the end of every life, when we pass from this world to the next, we will encounter our particular judgment from our Lord. But while here on earth, God continually gazes upon us with mercy. For that reason, mercy must become our daily mission, and we must build a habit of gazing upon everyone in our life with the eyes of mercy.

Reflect, today, upon our Lord. Look at Him, gaze upon Him, seek to know Him and make Him the focus of your attention. As you do, try to dismiss from your thinking process your own perceived judgments of others. Allow your gaze upon our Lord to help you to not only see Him but to also see others through His eyes. Build this habit and you will be on the fast track to the path to holiness.

My merciful Jesus, may I build a humble and true habit of gazing upon You in Your splendor and beauty. As I see You, day in and day out, please also help me to see myself through Your eyes of mercy so that I will also grow in humility. Please remove all judgment from my heart so that I will be free to know and love all people as You know and love them. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Sermon on the Mount by Fra Angelico, via Wikimedia Commons

The Most Important Thing in Life September 9, 2021


Thursday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Peter Claver, Priest—USA Memorial

Video

To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Luke 6:29–30

This must have been shocking to Jesus’ first disciples. First of all, recall that Jesus taught these words with a spiritual authority that left those with an open heart with a conviction that what Jesus taught was truth. Also recall that Jesus taught these deep spiritual lessons within the context of performing numerous miracles. So, for these reasons, His new followers would have known that what Jesus taught was true. But how could they fully accept such teachings?

Though many commentators will try to point to the deeper spiritual principles that Jesus was teaching, try to first take His words on face value. He really said that you must offer the other cheek to someone who strikes you, to give your tunic to one who steals your cloak, and to give to everyone who asks of you, never demanding back that which someone takes from you. These are not easy lessons to accept!

One thing that these powerful lessons teach us is that there is something far more important in life than the humiliation of being struck on the cheek and having your possessions stolen. What is that more important thing? It’s the salvation of souls.

If we were to go through life demanding earthly justice and retribution for wrongs received, we would not be able to focus upon that which is most important. We would not be able to focus upon the salvation of those who have wronged us. It’s easy to love those who are kind to us. But our love must extend to everyone, and sometimes the form of love we must offer another is the free acceptance of injustices they commit against us. There is great power in this act of love. But we will only be able to love another this way if our deep desire is for their eternal salvation. If all we want is earthly justice and satisfaction for wrongs committed, we may achieve that. But it may come at the expense of their salvation.

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that every wrong must be righted here and now. But that’s clearly not what Jesus taught. His wisdom is so much deeper. He knew that a profound act of mercy and forgiveness to another, especially when they have hurt us deeply, is one of the greatest gifts we can give. And it’s one of the most transformative actions we can also do for our own souls. When love hurts, in the sense that it costs us our earthly pride, especially by completely letting go of injustice, then our act of love for that person has great power to change them. And if that act changes them, then this will be the cause of your joy for eternity.

Reflect, today, upon any way that this hard teaching of Jesus is difficult for you. Who comes to mind as you ponder this teaching? Do your passions revolt against this command of love from Jesus? If so, then you have discovered the specific area where God wants you to grow. Think about anyone with whom you have a grievance and ponder whether you desire their eternal salvation. Know that God can use you for this mission of love if you will love in the way our Lord commands.

My merciful Lord, Your love is beyond my own ability to comprehend. Your love is absolute and always seeks the good of the other. Give me grace, dear Lord, to love with Your heart and to forgive to the extent that You have forgiven. Use me, especially, to be an instrument of salvation and mercy to those who need it most in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saint Peter Claver, Priest

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Sermon on the Mount by I.Makarov, via Wikimedia Commons

The Birth of the Mother of God Wednesday, September 8, 2021

 

Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings for Today

Video

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20–21

Today we celebrate one of the most consequential birthdays in the history of the world! Certainly, the only birthday more important is that of our divine Lord Himself. But today we honor His mother, and our mother, too.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was born into our world without the stain of original sin. She was preserved from experiencing fallen human nature through the gift of her Immaculate Conception. Thus, she was the first to be born in the perfection of human nature after the fall, and she continued to experience this grace throughout her life, responding to God with her free will every step of the way.

All of us enjoy celebrating our birthdays. Children especially love it, but most everyone looks forward to that special day each year when family and friends honor them and celebrate them in a special way. For that reason, we can be assured that even our Blessed Mother loved her birthday while here on earth and continues to enjoy this special celebration in Heaven. Of course, she did not enjoy her birthday because she wanted to be pampered or given special attention. She, perhaps more than anyone other than her divine Son, rejoiced on her birthday because of the deep spiritual gratitude she had to God for all that He did in her life.

Try to ponder the heart and soul of our Blessed Mother from her perspective. She would have been intimately united to each person of the Most Holy Trinity throughout her life. She would have known God, living in her soul, and would have been in awe of what God had done to her. She would have pondered these graces with deep humility and exceptional gratitude. She would have seen her soul and mission from the perspective of God, keenly aware of all that He had done for her.

As we honor the birthday of our Blessed Mother, it’s also an important opportunity for each of us to ponder the incredible blessings that God has bestowed upon each one of us. No, we are not Immaculate as Mother Mary was. We were each born into original sin and have sinned throughout our lives. But the blessings of grace, given to each one of us, is exceptionally real. We only need to work to have the eyes to see these graces. Baptism, for example, bestows upon the soul an eternal transformation. Though our sin may cloud that transformation at times, the transformation is eternal. Our souls are changed. We are made new. Grace is poured into our hearts, and we become children of God. And for the soul who is able to perceive the countless other ways that God bestows blessings, gratitude is the only appropriate response.

Reflect, today, upon the glorious celebration of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Begin by trying to rejoice in her life through her eyes. Try to imagine what she saw as she looked into her own graced soul. From there, try to rejoice, also, in your soul. Be grateful for all that God has done for you. Work to have eyes that see these countless graces and allow yourself to rejoice in God’s blessings with our Blessed Mother.

My dearest Mother, happy birthday! Today I rejoice in the incredible gift that God gave to you in your Immaculate Conception and birth into our world. I pray that I may honor you in a fitting way this day and to especially understand more clearly the beauty of your graced soul. Pray for me that I may also rejoice in the countless graces bestowed upon me by our merciful God. I love you, dear Mother. Precious Jesus, through the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I trust in You!

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Today’s Feast  – Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Birth of Mary by Domenico Ghirlandaio, via Wikimedia Commons

Hearing and Healing September 7, 2021


Tuesday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all. Luke 6:17–19

The Gospel of Luke presents us with what is traditionally known as the “Sermon on the Plain.” Almost everything Luke includes in this sermon is also found in Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount.” Matthew, however, adds some teachings not found in Luke. Matthew’s sermon has three chapters while Luke’s has only one.

In this, the introduction to this “Sermon on the Plain,” from which we will be reading all week, Luke points out that large numbers of people came from far and wide to listen to Jesus. This crowd included many Jews but also included many people from the pagan territory of Tyre and Sidon. And what was it that drew so many of them? They came to “hear” Jesus preach and “to be healed.” They wanted to hear the words of Jesus since He spoke with great authority and in a way that was changing lives. And they were especially amazed by the healing power that Jesus manifested. The last line of the passage above gives great emphasis to this desire for healing. “Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.”

It’s interesting that Jesus performed so many powerful miracles as He went about His public ministry. This was especially the case as He began His ministry. He became a sort of instant celebrity to many and was the talk of the many surrounding towns. But it’s also interesting to note that, as time went on, Jesus gave more emphasis to His teaching than He did to the miracles.

What is it that draws you to our Lord? Perhaps if there were numerous manifest miracles performed today by God, many people would be amazed. But physical miracles are not the greatest work of our Lord and, therefore, should not be the primary focus of our relationship with Him. The primary reason we should be drawn to our Lord is because His holy Word sinks in deeply, changes us and draws us into communion with Him. This is clearly seen by the fact that now that the Gospel message has been deeply established and the Church formed, physical miracles are rare. They do happen, but not in the same way that they did as Jesus first established His public ministry.

Reflect, today, upon the primary reason you find yourself drawn to our Lord. Seek out His living Word, spoken within the depths of your heart. The most important miracle that takes place today is that of interior transformation. When a person hears God speak, responds to that Word, and allows Him to change their life, this is among the most important miracles of grace that we could ever encounter. And this is the central reason we should be drawn to Him, seek Him out and follow Him wherever He leads.

My miraculous Lord, please draw me to Yourself, teaching in the wilderness of my interior life of silence and solitude. Help me to seek You out so that I can hear Your Word, spoken to me to give me new life. May I always listen to You so that Your holy Word will transform me more fully, making me into the new creation You desire me to be. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Sermon on the Mount by Cosimo Rosselli, via Wikimedia Commons