Gospel for April 3, 2011 — Judgement

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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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Gospel for March 27, 2011 — Eternity

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The Gospel for March 27, 2011 is from John 4:5-42 where Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well.  Jesus talks about how He offers water from which someone will never thirst and He has food the world has never known.  One interpretation of Jesus’ words is that He is talking about His body and blood found in the Eucharist which we pray about in the Fifth Luminous Mystery of the rosary.  The Eucharist provides us spiritual energy so that we have the power to focus on what should be the goal of our lives — to one day live in eternal happiness in Heaven.

Jesus compares physical bread and water to spiritual ones.  He explains that when people consume physical bread and water they will be hungry and thirsty again.  But spiritual bread and water are eternally sustaining.  But Jesus is not just talking about being hungry or thirsty.  Jesus essentially compares all our physical wants and needs against our spiritual ones.  It is too often that we tend to focus on our physical needs and neglect our spiritual side.  For example, many of us spend so much time and energy handling finances, world events, politics, social problems, family issues, and work anxieties.  But how often do we focus on our relationship with God?  Do we only give Him one hour a week at Mass if that?  And yet, how much more important is our spiritual health considering that it will determine whether we will spend all eternity in the happiness of Heaven or suffer the misery of Hell?  And even when we do focus on our spiritual needs, do we have the energy and courage to follow the Holy Spirit and do what is right?

Unfortunately, we often are not even putting our physical needs in front of our spiritual ones.  More often, we put physical wants ahead of everything.  We focus on our jobs and finances, not to provide for ourselves and our dependants, but for our wants.  We work for iPods and iPads, expensive clothes, flat screen TVs, movies, and smart phones.  And while none of these are inherently bad (we all need ways to relax), problems arise when we put those wants in front of our spiritual needs.  Like the women in the Gospel who had five husbands, we often live in pursuit of moments of temporary happiness.  We can probably picture this Samaritan woman choosing husbands for all the wrong reasons and getting involved with people mostly because they provided her with some short-term happiness.  But like many things rooted in worldly happiness, they are shallow and it is not long before we crave something newer, different, and better.

In contrast to what this world can provide, Jesus offers us eternal happiness.  But to obtain that we have to look past the temporary joys of this world even if that means temporary suffering.  Unfortunately, many times we lose site of that long term goal of Heaven and settle for shallow, temporary happiness.  Our challenge is to see past our temporary wants and live for eternal joy.  After all, what’s 80, 90, or 100+ years of life compared to an eternity of love and happiness?

Life is basically a much longer and tougher Marshmallow Test.  Watch the video below and notice how difficult it is for the children to forgo the smaller reward (one marshmallow) and wait for a larger one (two marshmallows).  Yes it is humorous to watch and wonder why it is so difficult for kids to wait for a better reward.  But as adults we really are not any better.  Instead of marshmallows, we often settle for worldly happiness at the expense of eternal joy.  We so easily accept what the world offers even when it goes against our faith.  We do this because it makes our life easier, makes us popular, and avoids confrontation.  It is amazing how we so easily throw away that grace through sin or just not putting a lot of effort into growing our spiritual endurance.

The Eucharist gives us the spiritual energy we need to live for the long term goal of eternal joy in God’s Heavenly kingdom.  That is why we should receive it with a heart and mind focused on doing Jesus’ will.  If we truly have the desire to live in God’s grace then the Holy Spirit will show us the way and the Eucharist will provide us the energy.  When you pray The Fifth Luminous Mystery of the rosary meditate on this Sunday’s Gospel.  Ask yourself, are you living for the temporary happiness of this world at the expense of eternal joy?  This week and throughout Lent may we all pray for the strength to focus on what’s really important — living for God’s Kingdom of Heaven.

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Gospel for March 20, 2011 – Hear Him

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The Gospel for March 20, 2011 is from Matthew 17:1-9.  It is about The Transfiguration which is also the Fourth Luminous Mystery.  There is not much more I can add beyond what I already wrote about this mystery of the rosary.  I want to point out that this Gospel not only connects to this mystery, but it also connects to the Gospel for January 9, 1979 on Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan.  In both cases, God reminds us through a booming voice in the sky that Jesus is His son and that we should listen to Him.  In this time of Lent, may we focus on listening to Jesus’ message, not because He is a prophet with some good ideas, but because Jesus is God made man.  May we hear Him in prayer and find the strength to always do His will.

Sometimes showing strength to to God’s will is more than avoiding sin.  For many of us, it might take just as much strength and courage to open our wallets to those who are in desperate need of help as it is to not avoid the temptation to do evil.  This Lent, we have much opportunity to be a Good Samaritan to those who are in need and I urge you to help however you can.  I am fond of Catholic Relief Services who are always responding to the major disasters around this world.

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Gospel for March 13, 2011 – Comfort

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The Gospel for Sunday, March 6, 2011 is from Matthew 4:1-11.  In this Gospel, Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days before rejecting Satan’s temptations.  Tired, hungry, and physically weak Jesus had the strength to reject evil.  Jesus shows this same spiritual endurance during His Passion, especially in the scourging at the pillar which we remember when we pray the Second Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary.  May we learn that we too have the strength to endure life’s challenges and that we will find comfort in Heaven after we reject evil in this life.

“Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Matthew 4:11)  To me, this is the most interesting verse in this Gospel reading.  The fact that angels needed to minster to Jesus after the 40 days in the desert shows just how difficult that ordeal really was.  I think many of us have this idea that because Jesus is God made man and performed many miracles that spending 40 fasting must not have been very hard for Him.  With that mindset we cannot relate with how Jesus faced life’s challenges and think it is unfair that He asks so much of us.  After all, how are we to imitate Jesus without the advantage of being superhuman?  But since angels needed to comfort Him shows us that certain aspects of life were no easier for Jesus than they are for the rest of us.

Like the challenges Jesus faced in His 40 days in the desert, the Second Sorrowful Mystery shows us the great hardship Jesus endured during The Passion.  Jesus felt pain and suffering when scourged at the pillar as any of us would.  But His faith in God gave Him the strength to persevere that torment.  Likewise, our faith tells us that we have the same strength to endure hardship in this life.  We have every opportunity to imitate Jesus by remaining faithful despite life’s challenges.  As much as we would like to be spared hardship in this life, chances are that our physical and spiritual limits will be tested at some point whether that be illness, a tragic accident, or a crisis of faith.  But this rosary mystery shows us that we all have the God-given ability to overcome any challenge and endure any hardship as Jesus did during His scourging.

May we remember that, like Jesus after His 40 days in the desert and all the pain and suffering He encountered in The Sorrowful Mysteries, we too will find joy and comfort in Heaven.  In fact, the comfort that Jesus offers us will so dwarf our earthly suffering that it will make the worst times in our life feel like a momentary itch.  But we also must remember that this consolation only comes to those who live according to God’s will.  Remember, the angels ministered to Jesus only after He rejected the temptations of the devil.  Likewise, we will find true joy and happiness once we reject Satan’s false promises and evils in this world.  Especially in this season of Lent, as we prepare for Easter through fasting and prayer, may we remember that God gave us the gift to overcome any challenge this world has to offer.  Let us remember to use this gift when we face difficult challenges in our lives.

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Gospel for March 6, 2011 — Not Leaving it to Chance

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The Gospel for Sunday, March 6, 2011 is from Matthew 7:21-27.  Jesus tells His disciples that those who hear His message but do not act on it will not enter His kingdom of Heaven.  He calls on all of us to think beyond our earthly existence and realize that we have eternal souls that will live forever in either Heaven or in Hell.  Whenever we pray the First Glorious Mystery of the rosary, we recall that Jesus rose to new life and desires all of us to join Him in Heaven.  But we must make the conscious decision to live for Heaven in this life by staying in a state of grace lest we hear these words from the Gospel, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.

The Gospel tells us that we must not only “talk the talk,” but also “walk the walk.”  Jesus says that it is not enough to hear God’s Word and just proclaim that you love Him.  We must back up our words with actions that put into practice Jesus’ teachings.  What is interesting about this Gospel is that Jesus says He will deny some people entrance into Heaven although they did good works here on earth.  What Jesus means is that those who are cut off from God’s grace by mortal sin will not enter Heaven despite their good deeds.  You cannot erase mortal sin through good deeds alone.  Jesus does not keep a list of ways sins can be forgiven like this:

  • Missing church = Give $100+ to charity
  • adultery = 12x volunteering at a soup kitchen
  • Cursing = Help a senior citizen cross the street

You could donate a million dollars to charity and that still will not absolve you of sin and bring you back into God’s grace.  The only way to come back into God’s grace is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  This sounds harsh, but Jesus wants us to love God first and have good works flow from that grace.  Loving God above all else is what matters, not individual acts of charity.

We must remember that Heaven is our goal.  When we pray the First Glorious Mystery of the rosary we recall that Jesus’ earthly death was not the end but only the beginning of His eternal reign as King of Heaven.  Whether we like it or not, we do have souls that will live forever in either Heaven or Hell.  We cannot opt for a third, neutral option.  And the option between Heaven or Hell is just too important for anyone to leave it up to chance.  I am often scared how relaxed some people are about where they will ultimately end up.  Many believe that if they just live a neutral life, a little good and a little bad (but not too bad), Jesus will cut them a break.  And while Jesus does show mercy, His teachings do not say that people can just live on auto-pilot and just slide into Heaven without a lot of effort.  I’m not saying that we need to constantly stress out about going to Heaven or Hell, but we do need to realize that our actions in this life do determine where we spend all eternity.

Jesus told us that the wise ones will build on solid foundations while the foolish will not.  In other words, the ones who live on solid, moral principles and do good works according to His teachings will see His Heavenly kingdom.  That isn’t difficult to comprehend but can be hard to put into practice.  So when you think about this Gospel or pray the rosary, really question where your focus lies.  Are you focused on living for God’s kingdom by striving to be in a state of grace or for Satan’s kingdom by living in sin?  Or, if you have not set a goal for where to spend all eternity, do you not think it’s time to start?

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Gospel for February 27, 2011 — Choices

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The Gospel for February 27, 2011 is from Matthew 6:24-34.  Jesus tells us not to put the riches of this world in front of the majesty of Heaven.  He says, “No one can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  He then asks us to put our faith in Him and not worry so much about acquiring earthly possessions.  The Third Luminous Mystery of the rosary echos this same theme when Jesus asks us to put living for God’s Kingdom before our earthly one.

Jesus’ statements in this Gospel lead to a lot of confusion.  Why is He telling us not to worry about what we will eat, drink, wear, or live?  Don’t we have to work and earn a living so that we have a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear?  After all, I don’t think He wants us to be homeless and dieing of starvation.  I don’t think Jesus is calling for a total collapse of society because no one needs to put in a hard day’s work.  Or is Jesus telling us we do not have to work at all and God will just give us everything we want on account of our faith in Him?

Any reader of this blog or the Gospel obviously knows that Jesus isn’t literally telling us not to work.  Jesus understands that we need to work and provide for ourselves and others.  He is not telling us to be slothful and just await for God to “bail us out.”  Jesus’ main point is that our earthly pursuits should not be the focal point of our lives.  We should work, but not solely for the earthly wealth and power.  As in the Third Luminous Mystery of the rosary, Jesus asks us to live for His Heavenly kingdom of Heaven first.  He asks us to convert from our native, earthly focus and orient ourselves towards God.  We do this by consciously making a clean start with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, praying more, and really letting the Holy Spirit guide us through life.

According to the Gospel, God will provide for us.  Note that Jesus does not say that our faith will give us an easy life free of burden and responsibility.  This is not what Jesus meant by providing.  Just look at many of the saints.  Their lives were not easy.  Many of them were persecuted, ignored, hated, and even martyred.  But in the end they were all blessed with eternal happiness because they chose to live for God’s kingdom first.  In the end, God did provide for them with the ultimate gift — Heaven.

We have a choice.  Where are we going to put our priorities?  Are we going to choose living for all the good things of this world or all the great things in Heaven?  We only have so much energy and time in the day so we do have to make a choice.  We cannot live for God’s kingdom by accident.  If we do not explicitly choose to live for God, we naturally tend to drift towards living only for this world.  That means we need to make many small decisions every day to choose God’s love over earthly pursuits.  Do we choose to set aside time for prayer?  Do we go to Sunday Mass and treat it seriously and with respect?  Do we receive the sacraments (particularly Reconciliation)?  Do we go out of our way to avoid sin even if it makes our life harder?  Do we help our brothers and sisters, particularly our enemies or those in need?  Those are just a few  of the choices we need to make that will either bring us closer to God or away from Him.  This week is a good time to pray the rosary, focus on the Third Luminous Mystery, and ask yourself, “Who will you serve?”

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Gospel for February 20, 2011 — Perfection

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The Gospel for February 20, 2011 is Matthew 5:38-48 which follows on the heals of the previous Sunday’s Gospel.  Jesus continues expanding the Mosaic law by challenging people to live to a higher standard.  He says we need to “turn the other cheek” when people hurt us and love our enemies.  Jesus exemplifies this high standard in The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary, His Crucifixion, when he asks God to forgive the people who put Him to death.

Jesus’ extensions to the law were tall orders considering the fact that He preached to people who were under Roman occupation and had strict barriers between social groups (Jew, Gentile, Samaritan, etc.).  It was very easy for people at that time to see “the others” as their enemy and seek any retribution when they were harmed.  Jesus asking people to love their enemies must have been a very radical idea and probably was not very well received.  Even today that idea is often preached, but rarely lived.  But Jesus points out that God loves everyone, whether they are Jew or Gentile, and He calls us to do the same.  And if loving your enemy is not difficult enough, Jesus raises the bar even further.  In what almost seems comical, Jesus tells us to “just be perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  Piece of cake right?

There is no better example of Jesus loving those who hated Him and acting perfectly then when He calls on God to forgive the people who crucified Him for “they know not what they do.”  But the problem many of us have when we read this passage is that we know that Jesus is already perfect.  Many of us may hear Jesus’ teaching of love and forgiveness and probably think, “it’s easy for Him to act perfectly, He’s God!”  So how can we relate to the infinite love and forgivness Jesus showed at His crucifixion?  How do we even begin to live perfectly?

Perfection starts with prayer.  We are aided in our quest for perfection with tools like the Bible, the rosary, priests, nuns, and the entire magistrate of the Catholic Church.  Prayer helps us see Jesus as the example of living perfectly that we try to imitate.  The word imitate is important since we can never be perfect as Jesus is perfect.  We will fall into sin from time to time.  We will not always love our enemies.  We will have grudges and hatred towards one another at times.  But just because we do fall does not give us an excuse never to try at all.  We pray the rosary for guidance, we meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries for strength, and we absorb the readings in the Bible all in trying to understand that perfection that God asks of us.  When we fail to live as Jesus desires, we can wipe the slate clean through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and try again.  And when we think we’ve done just about all we can do, thinking of Jesus nailed on the cross and forgiving the people should motivate us that we can try just a little harder.  And even when we do meet some of our moral limitations as human beings, we are at least closer to that perfection than if we had never tried at all.  But the key to living perfectly is that we have to actively try to live perfectly.  We cannot do it by accident.

Spirituality is a lot like athletics.  Coaches ask for perfection from their players.  Baseball coaches want every player to get a hit and never strike out.  In football, no coach wants to see a dropped pass or his quarterback sacked.  But athletes almost never play a perfect game.  But they give a 100% effort trying the best they can.  Just because they know they won’t play perfectly does not mean they do not try at all.  And so, Jesus calls us to be spiritual athletes.  Like a coach, He wants to see us giving a 100% effort in living according to His Will and building a loving relationship with Him.  It’s time to pick up that rosary or that Bible and give it your all.  It’s game time!

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Gospel for February 13, 2011 — Raising the Bar

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The Gospel for Sunday, February 13, 2011 is from Matthew 5:17-37.  In this reading Jesus extends the Mosaic law on topics such as murder, adultery, divorce, and swearing oaths.  He challenges people to work even harder to have a loving relationship with God.  For example, while the Mosaic law said “thou shalt not kill,” Jesus “raises the bar” saying that you should not even have grudges and be hateful towards others.  Jesus desires that we build up a strong faith that can endure through any of life’s challenges.  He encapsulates this attitude in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary, The Carrying of the Cross, as He kept moving towards His crucifixion and eventual resurrection despite the pain and suffering.

Jesus extends the Mosaic law partly because the Jews had grown too complacent following the rules.  They were following each law just for the sake of following them and not so much out of a love of God or to improve themselves.  Like someone who had grown too accustomed to a particular exercise routine, the old laws no longer sufficed for building a strong relationship with God.  As Jesus said later in Matthew 19:8, the laws that Moses gave to the Israelites were necessary because they were not ready to accept the full law as God intended.  In technical terms, the original Mosaic law can be thought of as the “beta” version of the law.  It contained many of the essential features but was not completely finished.  And so Jesus’ extensions completed the law as God always intended.

Whenever we feel like God has put a huge burden on our shoulders, let us remember the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery where Jesus took up His cross.  He suffered greatly and fell repeatedly under the crushing weight of the cross.  And yet, God gave Him the strength to get up and keep moving forward.  And although Jesus prayed that God would spare Him such an ordeal, God did not remove that challenge but instead gave Jesus the strength to endure it.  This rosary mystery should show us that we too can endure and ultimately triumph even when it seems like the challenge is too much.  Moses and Jesus did not give us these moral laws with the intent that we will ultimately fail to follow them.  Quite the opposite.  God gave us these laws because He knew we could handle them and that they would ultimately make us stronger in our faith.

Is living according to God’s laws challenging at times?  You bet!  But progress is never made when the road is easy.  Our relationship with God and each other are strengthened when we take up the challenge to live according to His laws.  Only when we take up our crosses and really make the conscious decision to live for Jesus can we truly say that we have a strong relationship with Him.  This idea of challenging ourselves reminds me of JFK’s famous speech about going to the moon.  We didn’t do it because it was easy, but because it was hard.  The same can be said about forging a relationship with Jesus Christ.  View this short video and replace “go to the moon” with “build a relationship with God” to see what I mean

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Gospel for February 6, 2011 — Let It Shine!

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The Gospel for February 6, 2011 is from Matthew 5:13-16 where Jesus tells His apostles to be a light to the world and not to hide it.  In Mt 5:15 Jesus says, “Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house.”  The Fifth Luminous Mystery of the rosary, The Institution of the Eucharist, reminds us how that sacrament makes us a light of grace and goodness to the world which we must not hide.

As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is actually present in the Eucharist.  When we receive the host in the sacrament of Communion, we literally receive Jesus.  That means that we receive His grace and that is what sustains us spiritually throughout the week.  Much like how our body needs food and water to survive, our soul needs Jesus through the Eucharist.  And we use that grace and spiritual energy to be a “light to the world” as Jesus says in the Gospel.  We must remember that we not only receive a gift of grace in this sacrament but also the obligation to live our faith for all the world to see.

Often we forget our spiritual obligations of receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist.  We may receive Jesus, but we negate any of the sacrament’s benefits when we choose to sin.  Much like the light under the basket in the Gospel, the grace of Jesus Christ can be hidden by our lust, gluttony, greed, envy, or any other sinful behavior.

Our behavior can have a ripple effect.  Jesus calls us to do good deeds so that other will see them and be influenced to do good as well.  This should be easy since, much like how a lamp radiates light, someone in God’s grace should just radiate goodness and love.  For example, we probably all know some good, solid people in our lives who are just a pleasure to be around.  They don’t need to try to be good but instead goodness just comes out naturally from them.  Those people are good examples for us since they are guided by the Holy Spirit to show God’s love.  However, be careful not to mistake living your faith with showing off.  Jesus says later in Matthew’s Gospel that He does not want us to show off good works for the sake of receiving praise from others.  Instead, our good works should always be directed towards giving glory to God.

When you hear this Gospel or meditate on the Fifth Luminous Mystery while praying the rosary, ask yourself if you are glorifying God by living according to His will.  What type of example are you setting for those around you?  Will your behavior lead others to do good or to sin?  Do you proudly proclaim and live your faith publicly or is it something you hide from the world?  And if you do live your faith, do you do it to win the praise and glory of others or to glorify God?  Throughout the week, remember this Gospel.  Do not be afraid.  Go out and be brave by living your faith for all to see.  If you receive God’s grace during the sacrament of the Eucharist, show it off!

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Gospel for January 30, 2011 — Challenging Yourself

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The Gospel for January 30, 2011 is from Matthew 5:1-12 most famously known as The Beatitudes or The Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus gives hope to those who feel hopeless and lost in a world that does not always seem good or fair.  He talks about how He will comfort the poor, the meek, and the persecuted in Heaven.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus proclaims the greatness and majesty of His kingdom of Heaven which is the central theme of the Third Luminous Mystery.

Jesus wants everyone to know that there is more to our existence than what we see, hear, smell, and feel.  And it does not matter how successful you are in this lifetime because you worldly successes won’t amount to anything in His kingdom.  This message is hard to fully realize since many times we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel when we suffer or make sacrifices for doing what is good and righteous.  But the entire point of praying and meditating on this rosary mystery is to ask God for the faith to see the glory of His kingdom even when it seems like our good acts have little impact in this world.

Let’s break down the Beatitudes into its core message since it is sometimes lost in Matthew’s poetic language.  If you want to live for God’s kingdom, this is what Jesus asks you to do:

  • Be devout in your faith, but do not show it off for the sake of looking holy.
  • Work towards righteousness by not being afraid to call good things good and bad things bad.
  • Be merciful, especially towards those who make life the most difficult for you.
  • Be pure of heart by avoiding sin and the near occurrences of sin.
  • Work towards peace even if it is just within your own heart.
  • Endure persecution, insults, and attacks against you for doing what is good even if the world considers it bad.

This is not easy.  No one said living for God’s kingdom would be.  But that is the point of praying the rosary; to ask for the strength and guidance to live, not for the world, but for Heaven.  I know that sometimes the Beatitudes can sound a little dry when read during Sunday Mass.  I know I sometimes zone out because I’ve heard it so many times.  But it is so important to not only know the Beatitudes, but to live them.  Ask yourself this in your prayers this week, “Am I living The Beatitudes?”  Listen to them one more time from the movie, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  It is my favorite Biblical movie because scenes like this bring life and energy to Jesus’ message that is sometimes lacking during Mass.

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