The One True Sign of the Cross February 21, 2024


Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
Readings for Today

Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church—Optional Memorial

Video

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” Luke 11:29

The crowd seemed to be a mixed bunch. First, there were those who wholeheartedly believed in Jesus. The Twelve, for example, left everything behind to follow Him. His mother and various other holy women believed in Him and were His faithful followers. But within the growing crowd, it appeared that there were many who questioned Jesus and wanted some form of proof of Who He was. Thus, they wanted a sign from Heaven.

A sign from Heaven would have been some externally manifest proof of Who Jesus was. Granted, Jesus had already performed numerous miracles. But it seems that this was not enough. They wanted more—and that desire is a clear indication of a stubbornness of heart and a lack of faith. So Jesus could not and would not give them the sign they wanted.

Instead, Jesus says that the only sign they will receive is the sign of Jonah. Recall that the sign of Jonah was not very appealing. He was thrown over the side of a boat and swallowed by a whale, where he remained for three days before being spit up on the shores of Nineveh.

Jesus’ sign would be similar. He would suffer at the hands of the religious leaders and civil authorities, be killed and be placed in a tomb. And then, three days later, He would rise. But His Resurrection was not one in which He came forth with rays of light for all to see; rather, His post-Resurrection appearances were to those who already manifested faith and already believed.

The lesson for us is that God will not convince us of the matters of faith through powerful and Hollywood-like public manifestations of God’s greatness. Instead, the “sign” we are offered is an invitation to die with Christ so that we can personally begin to experience the new life of the Resurrection. This gift of faith is interior, not publicly exterior. Our death to sin is something we personally and interiorly do, and the new life we receive can only be seen by others by the witness of our lives that are changed.

Reflect, today, upon the true sign God has given you. If you are one who seems to be waiting for some manifest sign from our Lord, wait no longer. Look at the crucifix, see Jesus’ suffering and death, and choose to follow Him in a death to all sin and selfishness. Die with Him, enter the tomb with Him and allow Him to bring you forth interiorly renewed this Lent, so that you can be transformed by this one and only sign from Heaven.

My crucified Lord, I gaze upon the crucifix and see in Your death the greatest act of love ever known. Give me the grace I need to follow You to the tomb so that Your death will triumph over my sins. Free me, dear Lord, during the Lenten journey so that I will be able to fully share in Your new life of the Resurrection. Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Seven Meditations:
40 Days in the Desert40 Days at the Cross

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Resources for Lent

Scripture Meditations for Lent

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Christ on the cross between Maria and Johannes By Matthias Grünewald, via Wikimedia Commons

Praying the Our Father February 20, 2024


Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Readings for Today

Video

Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Matthew 6:7–8

Recall that Jesus used to go off by Himself at times and spend the whole night in prayer. Thus, it’s clear that Jesus is in favor of long and sincere times of prayer, since He gave us His own example as a lesson. But there is clearly a difference between that which our Lord did all night and that which He criticized the pagans for doing when they “babble” with many words. After this criticism of the prayer of the pagans, Jesus gives us the “Our Father” prayer as a model for our personal prayer.

The Our Father prayer begins by addressing God in a deeply personal way. That is, God is not just an all-powerful cosmic being. He is personal, familial—He is our Father. Jesus continues the prayer by instructing us to honor our Father by proclaiming His holiness, His hallowedness. God and God alone is the Holy One from which all holiness of life derives. As we acknowledge the holiness of the Father, we must also acknowledge Him as King and seek His Kingship for our lives and for the world. This is accomplished only when His perfect will is done “on earth as it is in Heaven.” This perfect prayer concludes by acknowledging that God is the source of all of our daily needs, including the forgiveness of our sins and protection from all evil.

Upon the completion of this prayer of perfection, Jesus provides a context in which this and every prayer must be prayed. He says, “If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Prayer will only be effective if we allow it to change us and make us more like the Father in Heaven. Therefore, if we want our prayer of forgiveness to be effective, then we must live what we pray for. We must also forgive others so that God will forgive us.

Reflect, today, upon this perfect prayer, the Our Father. One temptation is that we can become so familiar with this prayer that we gloss over its true meaning. If that happens, then we will find that we are praying it more like the pagans who simply babble the words. But if we humbly and sincerely understand and mean every word, then we can be certain that our prayer will become more like that of our Lord’s. Saint Ignatius of Loyola recommends pondering every word of that prayer very slowly, one word at a time. Try to pray this way, today, and allow the Our Father to move from babbling to authentic communication with the Father in Heaven.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Six Meditations:
40 Days in the Desert40 Days at the Cross

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Resources for Lent

Scripture Meditations for Lent

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) painted “El Padre Eterno” (“the eternal father”), via Wikimedia Commons

The Least Deserving February 19, 2024


Monday of the First Week of Lent
Readings for Today

Video

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Matthew 25:31–32

What an image to ponder! Try to imagine this scene. At one definitive moment in the future, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, now also in human form as the “Son of Man,” will return to earth in glory surrounded by all the angels of Heaven and will sit upon His new and glorious throne. In front of that throne, every person of every nation ever to exist will be gathered together, and each person will be judged according to their deeds. Those who served our Lord and treated the least of His brothers and sisters with mercy and compassion will hear Jesus say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Those who did not serve Christ and did not treat the least ones with mercy will be sent off to eternal punishment as Jesus says to them, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.” On that day, only one thing will matter, because eternity will be determined with permanence. All that will matter is whether you will be placed on our Lord’s right so as to inherit eternal life, or on His left and sent into the eternal fires.

Sometimes, as we journey through life, we can lose sight of this glorious day. When we think of God and Heaven, it is easy to fall into the presumption that Heaven is guaranteed to us. God is kind and merciful, and He loves us. Therefore, we presume that Heaven is for certain and only the most horrible people will end in hell. But this is not how Jesus depicts the Day of Judgment.

Jesus explains that at the time of judgment, the righteous will be astonished by the fact that caring for those who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, ill, or imprisoned was the same as showing love for God. Likewise, those who neglected the same people will be astonished that they failed to love God by failing to love the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Do not take this teaching lightly. Jesus does not mince His words. He is abundantly clear and definitive.

In your life, who are these “least ones” of which Jesus is speaking? The hungry and thirsty are not only those with physical needs but also those who have spiritual longings that need to be satisfied. They are those lost or confused in life who need to be given direction. The stranger might be anyone who is lonely and easily ignored. The naked might be those who cannot manage to care for their needs. The ill could be those who are elderly or suffering in various ways. And the imprisoned could include those bound by sin who need help to be set free. Do not fail to seek out our Lord as He is present in those all around you.

Reflect, today, upon those in your life who seem most lost and most in need of your compassion. Those to whom we do not feel like reaching out are those who most often need our compassion and mercy. The “least ones” are often those we judge, condemn or ignore. Call to mind the person who seems least deserving of your love and know that Jesus is living within them, waiting for you to love Him by loving them.

Most merciful Lord, Your compassion is great and Your judgment is real. Help me to always keep my mind upon that final and glorious day on which You will return in all Your splendor and glory to judge the living and the dead. May I truly heed Your words and prepare for that day by loving You in all people, especially in those most in need. Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Five Meditations:
40 Days in the Desert40 Days at the Cross

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Resources for Lent

Scripture Meditations for Lent

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Christ the Redeemer, statue erected on the Cliff of Corcovado, By Donatas Dabravolskas, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ministry of Angels February 18, 2024


First Sunday of Lent (Year B)
Readings for Today

Video

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  Mark 1:12–13

What an amazing event we reflect upon today. Jesus, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity humbled Himself in two ways in the passage quoted above. First, He allowed Himself to endure the temptations of satan. Second, He permitted His very own creation, the good angels, to minister to Him in His human form.

First of all, recall that satan is a fallen angel. He was created by God and was created good. But the Book of Revelation (12:4) indicates that one-third of the created angels were cast out of Heaven to roam the earth. These demons act under the direction of the highest fallen angel, satan. Thus, according to the passage above, it was satan himself who tempted Jesus in the desert. Additionally, Jesus permitted the good angels to minister to Him in His human nature. These acts reveal the perfection of the virtue of humility within the humanity of our Lord.

According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, angels were created for three primary reasons. The first is for the purpose of worship. Worship of God brings about communion with God and enables perfect love to flow back and forth from God to each angelic being. Second, angels enact the will of God in all things. This includes the implementation of the laws of nature and the imparting of the grace that Christ won on the Cross. Third, God uses angels as messengers. Scripture records various ways that the angels spoke to the prophets, to our Blessed Mother, to Saint Joseph and to others. Saint Thomas Aquinas also believed that each of us is given a particular guardian angel whose role is not only to protect us but also to communicate the will of God to us.

As God, Jesus was the Creator of all angelic beings with the Father and the Holy Spirit. As man, Jesus was the recipient of both the ministry of the good angels and the attacks of the fallen angels. By humbly subjecting Himself to the natural powers of these angelic creatures, Jesus was also teaching us that we must do the same.

One of the primary natural powers of both the good and bad angels is the power of influence and suggestive thought. Angelic beings have the ability to put before your imagination ideas meant to either influence you for the good (the good angels) or to deceive you and lead you into sin (the bad angels). These communications are real, and we should be aware of them. In his book, The Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius of Loyola devotes much time and energy to the ministry of angels. He teaches how to distinguish the lies and deceptions of the fallen angels from the consoling direction communicated by the good angels. In many ways, our Gospel passage today, by which Jesus submitted Himself to the temptations and ministry of the angels, lends much support to the importance of trying to understand how these angelic creatures influence us. For more on this, see the book Probing the Depths: Ignatian Lessons and Meditations Arranged According to the Liturgical Year.

Reflect, today, upon the amazing truth that both angels and demons are constantly active in your life, seeking to influence you. As you ponder their spiritual role in your life, consider the various ways you can learn more about them. Speak to your guardian angel. Ask for the intercession of the highest of angels. Try to join them in their divine worship. Pray for their protection. Ask them to communicate to you the highest of truths from God. Seek to be attentive to these holy angels so that as you learn to discern their voices, you will be ready to follow the direction they give to you from God.

My Lord and Creator of All, You created the angelic order for the glorious purpose of love and worship. You also gave them the mission of enacting Your holy will and communicating to us on earth. Please help me to be more aware of the deceptions of the fallen angels and the direction of the good angels. Angels of God, pray for me, protect me and guide me into God’s perfect will. Jesus, I trust in You.

Meditation for the First Sunday in Lent:
40 Days in the Desert

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Resources for Lent

Scripture Meditations for Lent

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Temptation of Christ, via Wikimedia Commons

Make the Radical Choice, Today February 17, 2024


Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Readings for Today

Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order—Optional Memorial

Video

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Luke 5:27–28

Levi had a good life. He made good money and had steady employment as a tax collector. But in an instant, he gave that all up to follow Jesus, and his life immediately changed for the good.

This short story of the call of Levi is one that we should take note of. Though you most likely have already made the choice to follow Christ, that choice needs to be deepened each and every day. And the witness of Levi is one that should inspire you to do so.

Oftentimes, when we sense God calling us deeper and closer to Him, when we sense that He wants us to follow Him more completely, we might pause and hesitate. It’s common for people to want to think through such a decision and weigh the “pros and cons” before stepping out in faith. But don’t do that. The witness of Levi’s immediate choice to leave all else behind and follow Christ is given to us so as to invite us to do the same.

How is Jesus inviting you, today, to imitate the radicalness of Levi? What is He calling you to walk away from so as to more fully serve Him with love and totality? If you do not know the answer to that question, say “Yes” to our Lord anyway. Tell Him that you want to imitate Levi and that you want to wholeheartedly commit yourself to a complete and radical following of His holy will.

It’s also interesting to note that as soon as Levi made the choice to follow Jesus, he held a dinner at his house for Jesus and other tax collectors. Levi was not afraid to let others know of his choice, and he wanted to offer his friends the opportunity to do the same.

Reflect, today, upon the person and call of Levi. And as you begin this Lenten season, use Levi’s call and response as an opportunity to hear Jesus calling you. You may not be called to “leave everything behind” literally, but express your willingness to do so anyway. Put no conditions on your choice to follow our Lord and you will be eternally grateful you did.

My precious Lord, You call all of your children to follow You without reserve. You call us to be ready and willing to abandon all that this life has to offer so as to obtain so much more. Give me the grace I need to trust You enough to say “Yes” to You today, tomorrow and all days. My life is Yours, dear Lord. Do with me as You will. Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Four Meditations:
40 Days in the Desert40 Days at the Cross

 

Resources for Lent

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Lent

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Calling of Saint Matthew By Giovanni Paolo Panini, via Wikimedia Commons

The Transforming Power of Fasting February 16, 2024


Friday after Ash Wednesday
Readings for Today

Video

“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”  Matthew 9:15

Our appetites and fleshly desires can easily cloud our thinking and keep us from desiring only God and His holy will. Therefore, in order to curb one’s disordered appetites, it is useful to mortify them by acts of self-denial, such as fasting. But during Jesus’ public ministry, when He was daily with His disciples, it appears that self-denial was unnecessary for His disciples. One can only speculate that this was because Jesus was so intimately present to them every day that His divine presence sufficed to curb any and every disordered affection.

But the day did come when Jesus was taken away from them—first by His death, and then shortly after by His Ascension into Heaven. After the Ascension and Pentecost, Jesus’ relationship with His disciples changed. It was no longer a tangible and physical presence. It was no longer a daily dose of authoritative teaching and inspiring miracles that they saw. Instead, their relationship with our Lord began to take on a new dimension of conformity to Jesus’ Passion. The disciples were now being called to imitate our Lord by turning their eyes of faith to Him interiorly, and exteriorly acting as His instrument of sacrificial love. And for that reason, the disciples needed their passions and fleshly appetites under control. Hence, after Jesus’ Ascension and with the beginning of the disciples’ public ministry, they greatly benefitted from fasting and all other forms of mortification.

Each one of us is called to be not only a follower of Christ (a disciple) but also an instrument of Christ (an apostle). And if we are to fulfill these roles well, our disordered fleshly appetites cannot get in the way. We need to allow the Spirit of God to consume us and lead us in all that we do. Fasting and all other forms of mortification help us to stay focused upon the Spirit rather than upon our weaknesses and fleshly temptations.

Reflect, today, upon the importance of fasting and mortification of the flesh. These penitential acts are not usually desirable at first. But that’s the key. By doing that which our flesh does not “desire,” we strengthen our spirit to take greater control, which enables our Lord to use us and direct our actions more effectively. Commit yourself to this holy practice and you will be amazed at how transforming it will be.

My dear Lord, I thank You for choosing to use me as Your instrument. I thank You that I may be sent by You to share Your love with the world. Give me the grace to conform myself more fully to You by mortifying my disordered appetites and desires so that You and You alone can take complete control of my life. May I be open to the gift of fasting and may this penitential act help to transform my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Three Meditations:
40 Days in the Desert40 Days at the Cross

Resources for Lent

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Lent

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Deep Love Casts Out Fear February 15, 2024


Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Readings for Today

Video

Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Luke 9:22

Jesus knew He would suffer greatly, be rejected and killed. How would you deal with that knowledge if you somehow knew this about your own future? Most people would be filled with fear and become obsessed with trying to avoid it. But not our Lord. This passage above shows just how intent He was on embracing His Cross with unwavering confidence and courage.

This is just one of several times that Jesus began to break the news to His disciples about His pending fate. And each time He spoke this way, the disciples for the most part remained either silent or in denial. Recall, for example, one such reaction of Saint Peter when he responded to Jesus’ prediction of His Passion by saying, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).

In reading this passage above, the strength, courage and determination of our Lord shine through by the fact that He speaks so clearly and definitively. And what motivates Jesus to speak with such conviction and courage is His love.

Too often, “love” is understood as a strong and good feeling. It’s perceived as an attraction to something or a strong liking of it. But that’s not love in the truest form. True love is a choice to do what is best for another, no matter the cost, no matter how difficult. True love is not a feeling that seeks selfish fulfillment. True love is an unwavering strength that seeks only the good of the person who is loved.

Jesus’ love for humanity was so strong that He was driven toward His pending death with great power. He was unwaveringly determined to sacrifice His life for us all, and there was nothing that would ever deter Him from that mission.

In our own lives, it’s easy to lose sight of what true love actually is. We can easily become caught up in our own selfish desires and think that these desires are love. But they are not.

Reflect, today, upon the unwavering determination of our Lord to sacrificially love us all by suffering greatly, by enduring rejection, and by dying upon the Cross. Nothing could have ever deterred Him from this love. We must show the same sacrificial love.

My loving Lord, I thank You for Your unwavering commitment to sacrifice Yourself for us all. I thank You for this unfathomable depth of true love. Give me the grace I need, dear Lord, to turn away from all forms of selfish love so as to imitate and participate in Your most perfect sacrificial love. I do love You, dear Lord. Help me to love You and others with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.

Day Two Meditations:
40 Days in the Desert40 Days at the Cross

Resources for Lent

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Lent

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Christ Mocked By Pietro della Vecchia, via Wikimedia Commons

Lent—Taking off the Mask Wednesday, February 14, 2024


Ash Wednesday (Year B)

Readings for Today

Video

“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do…
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites…
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…” Matthew 6:2, 5, 16

Hypocrisy is an ugly sin. Essentially, being a hypocrite is being a fraud. The word itself comes from a Greek word referring to a mask that actors wear to depict their character. The person behind the mask would pretend that they were the person depicted by the mask. Therefore, a hypocrite is one who pretends to be who they are not.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus condemns those who give alms, pray and fast for the wrong reasons. Their almsgiving is not done out of charity and a desire to help, but out of an attempt to win the praise of others. They babble prayers on the street corner in an attempt to make others think they are holy. And when they fast, they make sure that their appearance looks “gloomy” so that others are impressed. Performing charitable works, praying and fasting are certainly good actions. But these actions must be authentic. Otherwise, they are not what they appear to be, and the one doing them is nothing other than an actor wearing a mask of virtue.

As we begin our Lenten season, we are each invited to take off the masks we wear so that the real person shines forth. We are especially called to combat any spiritual hypocrisy we struggle with for two important reasons. First, when people wear a mask of holiness, pretending to be more virtuous than they are, they sometimes end up even fooling themselves. Just as an actor may become so caught up in their character that they temporarily take on that character’s thoughts and feelings, so we also can become blinded by the truth of who we are when we habitually wear a mask of holiness. When that happens, we lose sight of who we are, where we need to grow, what we need to change and even what good there is within us. Lent is an important time for regaining authentic self knowledge so that we can grow in virtue.

It is also important to take off the mask so that others will benefit from our true selves. A person who pretends to be charitable, or pretends to pray, or pretends to be holy, cannot benefit others. God cannot authentically work through a hypocrite. Though the facade of holiness may seem appealing at first, the truth is that the real you, the authentic you, is the person that others want to know and will benefit from the most. Even your weaknesses and failures, when honestly faced, will become a source of strength and blessing for others.

Reflect, today, upon who you are. As your soul stands naked before the face of God, what does God see? Who are you? What masks do you wear? What is behind that mask? Use this Lent to look more deeply into your soul so that you will discover the person you are. Don’t be afraid to discover your sins and weaknesses. And don’t be afraid to see your authentic goodness. Seek to be real this Lent, and God will be able to shine more brightly through you.

My authentic Lord, You wear no mask, have no facade. The purity of Your divine soul shone through Your human nature as You walked the Earth, and now You call me to share in that purity. Please help me to see the ways that I hide behind false virtue, so that I can discover my true self. As I do, please transform me and shine forth through my soul for all to see. Jesus, I trust in You.

Day One Meditations:
40 Days in the Desert40 Days at the Cross

 

 

 

More videos for Ash Wednesday

Prayers for Peace

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saints Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop

Comprehending the Mysteries of Heaven February 13, 2024


Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

“Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” Mark 8:17–18

How would you answer these questions that Jesus posed to His disciples if He had posed them to you? It takes humility to admit that you do not yet understand or comprehend, that your heart is in fact hardened, and that you fail to see and hear all that God has revealed. Of course there are various levels to these struggles, so hopefully you do not struggle with them to a grave degree. But if you can humbly confess that you do struggle with these to a certain extent, then that humility and honesty will gain you much grace.

Jesus posed these questions to His disciples within the larger context of a discussion about the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. He knew that the “leaven” of these leaders was like a yeast that corrupted others. Their dishonesty, pride, desire for honors and the like had a seriously negative affect upon the faith of others. So by posing these questions above, Jesus challenged His disciples to see this evil leaven and to reject it.

Seeds of doubt and confusion are all around us. It seems these days that almost everything the secular world promotes is in some way contrary to the Kingdom of God. And yet, just like the disciples’ inability to see the evil leaven of the Pharisees and Herod, we also frequently fail to see the evil leaven within our society. Instead, we allow the many errors to confuse us and lead us down the path of secularism.

One thing this should teach us is that just because someone has some form of authority or power within society does not mean that they are a truthful and holy leader. And though it’s never our place to judge the heart of another, we absolutely must have “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” the many errors that are held up within our world as good. We must constantly seek to “understand and comprehend” the laws of God and use them as a guide against the lies within the world. One important way to make sure we do this well is to make sure that our hearts never become hardened to the truth.

Reflect, today, upon these questions of our Lord and examine them especially within the broader context of society as a whole. Consider the false “leaven” taught by our world and by so many in positions of authority. Reject these errors and recommit yourself to the full embrace of the holy mysteries of Heaven so that those truths and those truths alone become your daily guide.

My glorious Lord, I thank You for being the Lord of all Truth. Help me to daily turn my eyes and ears to that Truth so that I will be able to see the evil leaven all around me. Give me wisdom and the gift of discernment, dear Lord, so that I will be able to immerse myself into the mysteries of Your holy life. Jesus, I trust in You.

Daily Devotionals for Lent:

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Exhortation to the Apostles By James Tissot, via Wikimedia Commons

From the Depths February 12, 2024


Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”  Mark 8:11–12

Jesus had performed many miracles. He healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and fed thousands with only a few fish and loaves of bread. But even after all of that, the Pharisees came to argue with Jesus and demanded a sign from Heaven.

The response of Jesus is quite unique. “He sighed from the depth of his spirit…” This sigh was an expression of His holy sorrow over the hardness of hearts of the Pharisees. If they had the eyes of faith, they would have no need for yet another miracle. And if Jesus would have performed a “sign from heaven” for them, even that would not have helped them. And so Jesus does the only thing He can—He sighed.

At times, this type of reaction is the only good one. We may all face situations in life where others confront us with harshness and stubbornness. When this happens, we will be tempted to argue with them, condemn them, try to convince them we are right, and the like. But sometimes one of the holiest reactions we can have to the hardness of the heart of another is to experience a deep and holy sorrow. We must also “sigh” from the depths of our spirits.

When one is hard of heart, rational talking and arguing will prove to be of little avail. Hardness of heart is also what we traditionally call the “sin against the Holy Spirit.” It’s a sin of obstinacy and stubbornness. In that case, there is little or no openness to the truth. When you experience this in the life of another, silence and a sorrowful heart are often the best reaction. Their hearts need to be softened and your deep sorrow, shared with compassion, may be one of the only responses that can help make a difference.

Reflect, today, upon any person in your life with whom you regularly argue, especially regarding matters of faith. Examine your approach and consider changing how you relate to them. Dismiss their irrational arguments and let them see your heart in the same way that Jesus allowed His divine heart to shine forth in a holy sigh. Pray for them, have hope, and allow your sorrow to help melt the most stubborn of hearts.

My compassionate Jesus, Your heart was filled with the deepest compassion for the Pharisees. That compassion led You to express a holy sorrow over their stubbornness. Give me Your same heart, dear Lord, and help me to grieve not only over the sins of others, but also over my own sins, especially when I am stubborn of heart. Melt my heart, dear Lord, and help me to also be an instrument of Your holy sorrow to those in need of this grace. Jesus, I trust in You.

Daily Devotionals for Lent:

 

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Christ among the Pharisees By Jacob Jordaens, via Wikimedia Commons