How Rosary Prayer Teaches Us About Discernment

Here is the Gospel for this Sunday, 9/4/16 from LK 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus’ teachings in this Gospel confuse me.  Why is he telling us to turn against our parents?  After all, Jesus loved Mary, his mother.  He was obedient to his parents as a young boy.  And what does hating your parents have to do with the analogy of laying down the foundation of a tower, preparing for battle, or renouncing all your possessions?  I can just picture the confusion and even doubt the people listening to Jesus speak these words must have had.

I think that when you look at this teaching in the context of all of Jesus’ other teachings it is obvious that he is not telling us to literally hate our parents.  Rather, he instructs us to let go of all worldly attachment especially if they lead us away from God‘s grace.  And in some extreme cases, that may mean letting go of our relationships with certain people, possessions, and habits if they are toxic to our relationship with God.

Each one of us needs to make a conscious decision on what kingdom we are going to live for.  Will it be this worldly kingdom or God’s heavenly one?  Remember, shortly after this teaching in Luke’s Gospel Jesus tells us, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).

Attachment to a worldly possession didn't work out too well for Smeagol
Attachment to a worldly possession didn’t work out too well for Smeagol (see Lord of the Rings)

The Gospel reading moves in a unique direction with the parable of building the tower and preparing for war.  As my Sunday readings workbook points out, Jesus is telling us that living our faith is something we need to consciously think about and commit ourselves to.  Many of us cradle Catholics (myself included) often take the Church‘s teachings for granted and do not put a lot of serious thought into them.  We may call ourselves Catholics but Jesus challenges us to reflect on what exactly we are committing ourselves to.  Have we taken the time to learn the Church’s teachings?  Are we ready to live and defend them?  Do we pray regularly to build a strong spiritual foundation if/when our faith is challenged?

The Gospel reflects the central theme of the Third Luminous MysteryThe Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus’ Call to Conversion.  Conversion implies that one is making a very conscious and deliberate choice.  It is not something one does passively.  When you reflect on this rosary mystery, ask yourself if you are seriously looking for ways you are not living up to the standard Jesus puts before you.  Where are you out of step with the Church’s teachings on topics such as abortion, chastity, immigration, social welfare, etc?  What are you going to do to convert from your focus on our worldly kingdom to God’s heavenly one?

It is easy to procrastinate and delay taking a hard look at your life and taking steps to convert.  But just like the builder who didn’t plan or the general that didn’t strategize, Jesus warns us about how foolish such action is because delaying actively living a truly Catholic faith puts you at risk for great catastrophe.  And there is no greater catastrophe than losing God’s kingdom of Heaven especially when he asks relatively so little of us to accept it.

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How Rosary Prayer Teaches the Glory of Humility

I’m a lector at my parish.  One of the perks of serving as a lector is that my parish provides me with a workbook for the readings that contain explanations and commentary.  Reading this book during the week helps me obtain a deeper understanding of the readings at Sunday Mass.  I want to start providing you insight into the Sunday Gospels and how they relate to the rosary.  This way, when you pray the rosary, you can integrate the Sunday readings into your meditation as well.  Think of this as doing your Sunday Mass homework.

The Gospel for Sunday, August 28, 2016, is:

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then he said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

When I initially read this Gospel passage, I felt like I was reading the biblical equivalent of an Amy Vanderbilt etiquette book on how to politely find your place at a banquet table.  The reading confused me because it seemed like Jesus was giving his disciples a social hack for getting to a place of honor in a disingenuous way.  Is it not false humility to sit at a lowly spot of the table expecting the host to come and fetch you and put you where you think you deserve to be?  I can almost picture that fake humble person sitting next to the stereotypical “chatty lady,” not even listening to her but scanning the room making sure the host sees him so he can “rescue” him from the dregs.

How long do I have to listen to you?
How long do I have to listen to you?

The confusion lifted when I realized that Jesus asks us to behave as the guest and the host!  Jesus talks about the host not looking for reciprocity or acknowledgment for his efforts.  But that is also the same requirement for the guest who takes the lowest spot at the table.  He should not be looking for the host to save him from his situation but rather, accept and enjoy his situation regardless of the outcome.  After all, the guest should be thankful and grateful that he was invited to the feast at all.  We too should be grateful for all the blessings God bestows on us even when it seems like others have it better.

The people who are truly humble and accepting of their situation are ultimately the happiest.  They are not always looking for something better but find contentment with what they have.  That is because they do not come with any preconceived notions of their importance but they just do what needs to be done.  They do not worry about who notices them or if they will receive a certain level of reward.  In a sense, the humble person is free from the burden of self-imposed expectations or entitlement.  When you do not feel entitled to that place of honor, being elevated to it makes it that much more glorious.

Just about every mystery of the rosary teaches some aspect of humility and the glory that comes out of it.  The rosary itself is bookended by these two traits by the First Joyful Mystery and the Fifth Glorious Mystery.  In the Annunciation, Mary humbly accepts God‘s plan for her.  She does not turn God down or try to reshape His request into something she would prefer.  God is essentially upending Mary’s life but her humble reply is,  “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Thy Will be done.
Thy Will be done

When we walk and talk with Jesus through the rosary, we finish with Mary being crowned Queen of Heaven.  Like the person sitting at the lowest spot of the banquet table only to be seated at the place of honor so was Mary glorified after her lifetime of humbly accepting God’s plan for her and the pain and sorrow that it entailed.  She is our model for our ultimate elevation to a place of honor in Heaven when we live in earnest, humble service of God’s plan for us.

When you pray the First Joyful and Fifth Glorious mysteries of the rosary, pray and ask yourself:

  • Am I living a sincerely humble life or showing a fake sense of humility as a means to more selfish ends?
  • Am I content and satisfied with all God has given me or am I expecting something better?
  • Am I looking to Mary as an example of humility?
  • Am I showing humility by putting my trust in God’s plan or am I trying to avoid or amend it?

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Abstaining from Communion: How the Rosary Teaches Humility

I really wanted to get this out Monday night but at least I’m publishing an article within the same week of the Gospel passage I’m referencing.  This is from Tuesday’s Gospel:

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

I’m going to tie this reading to the concept of humility which is one of the themes of the Fifth Luminous Mystery — The Institution of the Eucharist. I think it is important to realize that when you receive the Eucharist, you are encountering Jesus as if he was present in human form. This is not a gift to be received lightly and yet so many of us (myself included) often receive this gift on auto-pilot without the sincere awe, thought, and gratitude Jesus deserves.

3rd quarter of 16th century
3rd quarter of 16th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I once heard a priest on EWTN radio remark on how short the lines to Confession are on Saturday and how long they are for Communion on Sunday. We either live in an age of saints or many of us are not showing the humility to abstain from receiving the Eucharist when we are not in a worthy state.  We have to remember that receiving Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is not some sort given when you go to Mass but is something that you should put some thought into on whether to receive Him or not.

For those who need a refresher on the requirements to receive Communion, EWTN summarizes the Catechism nicely:

The prerequisites for the reception of Holy Communion are 1) being in the state of grace, 2) having fasted for one hour (for the sick 15 minutes if possible, no fast if fasting is not possible), and 3) devotion and attention.

I think a lot of people feel obliged to get into the Communion line because they feel like people will judge them and assume they did something horrible to fall out of a state of grace.  But that is only one condition for not receiving Communion.  You could just as easily abstain from Communion for non-grave reasons like not fasting or because you came late to Mass and just do not feel like you are in that spiritual zone.  But here’s the point many people miss when they feel like everyone will assume the worst for not receiving Communion.  NO ONE CARES!  I think the number of people that are observing who is not receiving Communion is so incredibly small.  And are they people who you even care what they think about you?  Is it really worth offending God to please a handful of Communion ombudsmen?

I suggest praying the Fifth Luminous Mystery during the presentation of the gifts and really examine your conscience about receiving Communion.  Really, it is okay to occasionally abstain as long as you also make an effort to correct the underlying reasons why you need to abstain from Communion in a timely manner.  Go to Confession, remember to fast, etc.  In short, be humble enough to know when you are not worthy to receive the Eucharist and motivated enough to do everything in your power to return to a state of grace.

Connecting back to the Gospel reading, what is one trait many young children have?  Children are genuine.  They aren’t self-conscious or fake.  They do not have this need to keep up a certain facade to please others.  I’m always amazed how unfiltered small children can be at times.  And maybe that’s what Jesus asks of us adults; to tear down those walls of pride or vanity and do what is right regardless of how others may perceive it.  Another way to think about it is that God is our Father and we are His children.  He sets the rules and expectations and He does it for very good reasons.  And while we may not always like or agree with them, maybe like a child, we need to swallow our pride, accept God’s teachings, and have faith that what He asks is for our ultimate benefit.

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What’s Your Request?

King Solomon, Russian icon from first quarter ...
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The first reading for Sunday, 7/24/11, was the story about how Solomon the Wise actually became, well, wise.  In a dream, God came to Solomon, ruler of Israelites, and granted him one request.  Instead of earthly wealth and power, Solomon asked for the gift of wisdom.  God granted Solomon his request because of its unselfish nature.  Likewise, God gives us special gifts for praying the rosary if our requests are to help further our relationship with Him.

The Confraternity of the Rosary was started over 500 years ago by the Dominican order.  It is a Catholic association that promotes praying the rosary.  Over the years, the Virgin Mary made 15 promises of the benefits that come from praying the rosary.  They include gifts like:

  • What you shall ask through my Rosary you shall obtain.
  • To those who propagate my Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.
  • Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune.

Sound great?  If taken out of context one might think that praying the rosary will yield money, power, fame, and fortune.  If I ask for one million dollars I will receive it right?  I have a guarantee to find the love of my life or get that big promotion at work!  Of course, we know the rosary does not work like this.  So what does Mary mean in these promises?

We have to go back to Sunday’s reading and the story of Solomon.  God did have the power to grant Solomon whatever he wanted.  But God also reserved the right to turn down Solomon’s request if it was selfish or did not further His Heavenly kingdom.  The same goes with the promises of the rosary.  We will obtain whatever we ask as long as those requests are to deepen our relationship with God.  God will answer our prayers when we ask Him for what is truly important.  When Mary speaks of our necessities, she is not talking about our earthly ones.  Everything that happens in this life, good and bad, will one day pass away.  Our true necessities revolve around the state of our soul which will determine where we spend all eternity.  That is the aid we will receive praying the rosary.

Often we are like small children when we approach God in prayer.  To a child, a toy on the shelf at a store or a candy bar in the checkout counter feels like the most important thing in the world.  And children are devastated when they do not get what they want as we see when a parent drags their wailing child through the isles of a supermarket (poor parent).  And yet we often do the same thing in our prayers.  We ask God for things that we think are incredibly important because we lack the perspective to know that they are really quite inconsequential.  One of the benefits of the rosary is that we will not only receive our spiritual necessities, but we will gain a deeper understanding as to what those needs are.

So when we pray the rosary, let us remember to approach God humbly with our requests and intentions.  We should remember what is truly important which is the salvation of our soul and the souls of others.  Everything else, whether it be about work, finances, and relationships in this world are trivial when compared to receiving God’s grace.  And while it is fine to ask God for help in these areas we should remember to keep those requests in perspective.  Who knows?  Maybe one day God will come to you in a dream, as He did Solomon, and give you one request.  Will your heart be centered on God so that you will ask for what is truly important?

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Gospel for May 8, 2011 — Awareness

Man and woman (holding her child) walking by t...
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The Gospel for Sunday, May 8 is from Luke 24:13-35 where some disciples of Jesus met Him on the road to Jerusalem but did not recognize Him.  They did not realize Jesus was with them until He ate with them and broke bread similar to what He did at the Last Supper.  Only then did they realize how foolish they were that they did not recognize Jesus in their presence.  Likewise, when we pray the rosary Jesus is in our presence both listening to us and trying to guide us to His kingdom of Heaven.  But often we do not recognize Jesus’ presence in our prayers or in our lives.

This Sunday’s Gospel follows the same theme as last week’s in that it shows that all too often we look for God in our lives in all the wrong places.  Last week Thomas the apostle had so little faith he would not recognize Jesus’ resurrection until he saw Jesus face to face.  And now in this week’s Gospel two of Jesus’ disciples did not recognize Jesus although they were walking and talking with Him.  They did not see Jesus despite the fact that He explained all the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets explaining His death and resurrection.  And yet they still did not recognize Him.  We too often fail to recognize Jesus in our lives although His truth is all around us.

I touched on this briefly when discussing Doubting Thomas and how we do not always take those telling the truth seriously.  In this case I mean the truth of Jesus Christ as taught through the Catholic Church.  We hear this truth all the time whether it be during Mass, in the Catechism or Bible, Papal decrees, or simply the Church’s traditions that have been practiced for centuries.  We hear them and yet we so often do not follow them because we do not think of them as Jesus’ teachings.  We hear them as the thoughts and opinions of fellow humans much like the disciples in the Gospel thought that Jesus was just some normal traveler.  And so we do not give the Church’s teachings the consideration they deserve and go about living counter to its teachings.  Would you argue about abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, contraception, and human cloning if you stood face to face with Jesus?  Probably not.  So why do we so readily argue with His Church and disobey His teachings?  Are we like the disciples in the Gospel who discovered how foolish they were for not recognizing Jesus in their presence?

We should remember this Gospel reading when we pray the Third Luminous Mystery of the rosary and remember Jesus’ proclamation of Heaven and His call to conversion.  Really meditate this week on the areas in your life where you do not hear Jesus through the Church’s teachings and challenge yourself to learn what Jesus is trying to tell you through His Church.  You will probably not be converted in some of your beliefs overnight.  But just researching what the Church really believes and teaches and humbling yourself to the possibility that there might be areas of your life where you have not let the Holy Spirit guide you is a huge step in the right direction.  There is no doubt that questioning your deeply held beliefs is hard especially if Jesus leads you in a direction that runs counter to popular opinion.  But the Third Luminous Mystery points out that we need to choose whether to live for God’s kingdom or our earthly kingdom.  Do you see that Jesus walks beside you every day and is trying to lead you down the right path or are you too wrapped up in living solely for what this world has to offer?

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Gospel for May 1, 2011 — Belief

Just Believe: ( John 20:29)
Image by Realistic Imaginations via Flickr

The Gospel for May 1, 2011 is from John 20:19-31 where Jesus appears to His apostles after rising from the dead.  Thomas, who was not there when Jesus appeared, did not believe the apostles’ claim since he had not seen Jesus personally.  This Gospel teaches the meaning and value of faith and how we are often like doubting Thomas where we do not see the wonderful works of Jesus in our lives.  Like the Second Luminous Mystery of the rosary, the Miracle at Cana, Jesus performs miracles all around us every day and yet we often overlook them.

When you pray the rosary think about spending some time thanking God for all He does for He performs both small and large miracles every day.  At Cana, Jesus turned water into wine.  But that seems almost trivial when you consider the miracle of your life.  Just the fact that you are alive is miracle enough.  After all, you came from nothingness, started life as a little group of cells, and are now a moving, breathing human being with the ability to spread so much joy and happiness in others’ lives.  Throw on top of that the friends and family God placed in your life.  If you are married, think about the fact that out of the billions of the people in the world and the centuries of human existence God placed you and your spouse together at this specific place and time.  Think about all the skills you posses whether they be physical or mental.  We should remember to thank God for even the small miracles of a sunny day or a comfortable bed to sleep in at night.

Despite all the miracles around us we act like Thomas in John’s Gospel.  Thomas needed to personally experience that BIG MIRACLE to believe in Christ’s resurrection.  He would not take others’ word for it.  We too often look only for only that big miracle in our life to truly believe and love Jesus.  We want the booming voice from the sky to speak to us.  We want to see a hand reach down from the clouds to prevent an almost certain disaster.  We want our prayers to win the lottery answered.  Unfortunately, we are often so blinded looking for that big miracle that we overlook all those other miracles that show God’s presence in our lives.  Like Thomas not believing the word of the other apostles, we often ignore or do not believe the teachings of the Catholic Church.  The message of the Gospel and the Second Luminous Mystery is to have faith and rejoice in EVERYTHING God does for us and not be disappointed because He does not perform a specific, big miracle.

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Easter Sunday — Joy

Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene
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The Easter Gospel is either from John 20:1-9 or Matthew 28:1-10.  Both talk about how Mary Magdalene came to Jesus’ tomb only to find it empty for He had risen.  Naturally this Gospel relates to the First Glorious Mystery — Jesus’ Resurrection.  Realizing the sorrow of Jesus’s passion and death only makes His resurrection that much more joyful.  For while Jesus’ earthly life ended in great suffering and sorrow He rose to His eternal, heavenly life in glory.  We too should remember that in our greatest sorrows and suffering we are called to one day rise to new life in the eternal joy of God’s heavenly kingdom.

Everyone have a happy and blessed Easter!

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Palm Sunday — Sorrow

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...
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The Palm Sunday Gospel for April 17, 2011 covers the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, and Jesus’ Passion and death (Matthew 26:14-27).  This Gospel covers all the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary.  There is just so much in this Gospel it is almost a shame that we read it all at once instead of breaking it up over several Masses.  But just because you read the Gospel straight through during Mass does not mean you cannot meditate more on it yourself.  Take your time in this last week leading up to Easter to really absorb the central themes behind the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary.  Meditate on Christ’s Passion and death and thank Him for all he does for us.

I know that many times we walk into the church on Palm Sunday and it hits us that this is that LONG Mass and we develop a bitterness because the Mass might run longer than an hour.  Try not to think about how long the Mass is or how it seems to upset your plans for the day.  That extra time should be seen as a gift, not a burden.  Use that time to focus on all Jesus does for us and what He asks us to live.  Jesus sacrificed His life for us so the least we can do is spend a few extra minutes with Him in prayer.

I encourage you to read my postings on the Sorrowful Mysteries throughout this week.  Think about the quantity and quality of your prayers when you read the First Sorrowful Mystery — The Agony in the Garden.  Pray for all those who suffer, especially those who suffer because they strayed from God’s path, when meditating on Jesus’ Scourging in the Second Sorrowful Mystery.  Ask yourself how much respect you give to Jesus and His Church in the Third Sorrowful Mystery — The Crowning of Thorns.  Look around at the crosses other bare and see if you can help them any way you can when you think of Jesus taking up His cross in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery.  And finally, follow Jesus’ example in His crucifixion and ask God for the strength to do His Will no matter where that takes you.

Make the most of Holy Week.  Do not treat it like every other week of the year but really make an effort to turn it into a time of more intense prayer and meditation.  God Bless!

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Gospel for April 10, 2011 — Eternity

Raising of Lazarus by Jesus
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The Gospel for April 10, 2011 is John 11:1-45. In this Gospel, Jesus performs the miracle of raising His friend, Lazarus, from the dead.  This Gospel foreshadows Jesus’ resurrection which we pray in the First Glorious Mystery of the rosary.  Both this rosary mystery and the Gospel remind us that there is more to our existence than this earthly life.  God’s divine plan for all of us does not end with the death of our physical bodies.  His plan also includes our souls living for all eternity in His heavenly kingdom.

News flash, we all have a terminal illness.  I do not want to be a downer, but we all had this illness from the we were conceived.  Our terminal condition is our earthly existence.  No one will physically live forever.  But we should not despair as Jesus said this in the Gospel:

This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

While Jesus was referring to Lazarus, He might as well have spoken about the human condition and our mortality.  None of our lives will end in death if we define death to be a transition to nothingness.  Instead our souls will live for all eternity.  We should recognize that reality and adjust our lives by avoiding sin and doing good works.

In addition to our final, physical death we also encounter little deaths throughout our lives.  I refer to the death of our relationship with God when we commit mortal sin.  When we sever ourselves from God’s grace our soul experiences a type of spiritual death.  However, like how Jesus physically raised Lazarus from the dead, the Holy Spirit raises our soul from its death through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Our return to God’s grace is just as miraculous, and I would say vastly more important, as if Jesus raised us physically from the dead as He did with Lazarus.  Especially in this period of Lent, it is so critically important to do a little spiritual spring cleaning of our souls and go to confession.  We all should experience the miracle of God rising our souls from their spiritual sleep.  And we must pray for all those in this world who are spiritually dead through sin that they have the courage and humility to return to God’s grace.

In this Gospel reading Lazarus’ rise from the dead foreshadows Jesus’ resurrection.  We remember Jesus’ resurrection in the First Glorious Mystery of the rosary.  One of the central themes of this mystery is that our physical death is not the end of us.  Rather, it is just the beginning of a new life either in Heaven or in Hell.  I believe that our spiritual life is actually our real life as it is eternal.  Our life here on earth, even if we live one hundred or more years, is nothing compared to eternity.  So which existence is really the one where we live as our true self?  Our current, temporary, and imperfect life or the eternal existence in the afterlife?  When we pray the rosary, think about this Gospel, and meditate on Jesus’ resurrection may we remember to make the most of this short time we have in this life by being a testament to the glory of God.  God desires all of us to be with Him in Heaven.  Through Jesus’ resurrection, He showed us that there is so much more to our existence than what we experience in this world.  Let us not become so obsessed and consumed by all the material wants of this life as they will all one day disappear.  Instead, we  should pray that we can endure and reject the temptations of this world and live for the greater goal of an eternity of joy and happiness in Heaven.

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Gospel for April 3, 2011 — Judgement

Gavel | Andrew F. Scott: P6033602
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The Gospel for April 3, 2011 is John 9:1-41 (yep, it is a long one).  Jesus angers the pharisees by healing a blind man on the Sabbath.  The high priests are outraged because they see Jesus as someone who undermines their authority and performs miracles without their approval.  But Jesus says that He came to open the eyes of the spiritually blind while also blinding those who see through a lens of self-righteousness like the pharisees.  We remember in The Second Glorious Mystery of the rosary, The Ascension, that Jesus will one day judge us and so we must not be blind to His teachings.

The pharisees question nearly all of Jesus’ miracles throughout the Gospel and the healing of the blind man is no different.  They throw out the usual accusations — Jesus must derive His power from Satan or that He is not sent from God since He disobeys the Mosaic laws.  Each time the pharisees question Jesus they end up embarrassing themselves as Jesus points out the flaws to their blind adherence to the Mosaic Law. You would think they would have learned their lesson the first couple of times Jesus set them straight.  By interrogating the blind man, his family, and Jesus we get a sense of the pharisees’ growing frustration with Jesus since He threatens their authority.  Like modern-day politicians, the pharisees’ goal is not to show God’s truth but keep as much earthly power as possible.

Jesus’ response to the pharisees’ criticism is found in verses 39-41:

Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”  Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin;  but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

We see like the pharisees in that we know the truth of Jesus’ divine nature.  We know Jesus’ will through the teachings and traditions of the Church, the Bible, in prayer, and the natural law written on each of our hearts.  God gave us the law through Moses and completed that law through Jesus Christ.  And yet, despite making His will known to us we often disobey Him through sin.  As Jesus implies in the Gospel, our sin remains because we can see the difference between right and wrong but we choose to sin anyway.  We look at the silliness of the great lengths the pharisees went to to discredit Jesus.  And yet we too go through great lengths to sidestep living according to Jesus’ teachings.  If you think about all that Jesus, the saints, and prophets have revealed to us about God’s will we also look very silly when we choose to sin in the face of all that knowledge.

We often take a self-righteous view of ourselves and believe that God approves of all that we do in life.  Like the pharisees, we holler and yell when the Church tells us that our world view conflicts the truth of Jesus Christ.  We shout, “How dare you say abortion is evil!”  Or, “The Church’s teachings are so out of touch regarding premarital sex!”  To many, the idea that we must humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation seems draconian.  No one likes being told they are wrong or punished for bad behavior.  But instead of avoiding bad behavior we seem to go out of our way to redefine what is bad and what is good.   We try very hard to make God conform to our worldview instead of changing our worldview to fit God’s plan.   Do we see that we are like the pharisees in the Gospel when we argue and rebel against God’s teachings instead of embracing them?

Jesus said in the Gospel that He came into this world for judgement.  We remember Jesus’ coming judgement when we pray the Second Glorious Mystery.  He ascended into Heaven to judge the living and the dead.  Jesus will judge us based on His divine law.  That judgement may be harsh since we have knowledge of His laws and yet chose not to follow Him.  Remember, because we can see God’s truth, our sins remain.  God will not care whether something was legal in some worldly court.  He does not care about popular opinion.  And so, an important goal in life should be following God’s laws because in the end, that is how He will judge us.  When you pray the Second Glorious Mystery of the rosary acknowledge that we are all subject to God’s judgement one day.  And may that knowledge translate into the courage to live according to God’s will by avoiding sin.  Pray that we can humble ourselves and admit when we do stray from God’s path and embrace the Sacrament of Reconciliation, especially in this period of Lent.

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