I read this great article about the role of women in the Catholic Church and how women not being ordained priests should not be equated with having a lesser status or role within the Church. From the Catholic News Agency, Ana Cristina Villa, a consecrated laywoman with the Marian Community of Reconciliation, writes:
“I think that is a big distortion for the vocation of women, because women are obviously not the clergy,” she said, explaining that “when you get into this discussion about women in the Church you have to understand that there is a wider context.”
In her view, Catholic faithful need to grow in their understanding that, “according to their own vocation,” all “baptized are the Church and all baptized are called to feel the Church as their own and to contribute to the Church.”
When I read the CNA article, my mind immediately recalled this upcoming Sunday’s Gospel. We will be celebrating Jesus as King and yet the Gospel for Sunday focuses on His crucifixion. This highlights how people’s expectations of Christ the King did not match up with the reality — one of the suffering servant. They expected an earthly king with all the power that they envisioned. What they got, but many did not see, was someone infinitely more powerful; not bounded by worldly power but possessing salvational power.
The reason why the CNA article relates to this Sunday’s Gospel is that God created a special role for all of us in His Church. Just because women aren’t intended for the priesthood does not make them any less important. Jesus was not the worldly king people envisioned but that did not make Him any less powerful. When it comes to how we envision women’s role in the Church, we should not limit our thinking to titles and responsibilities. Otherwise, we fall into the same narrow-minded thinking as those who crucified Jesus for not meeting their pre-conceived notion of a king.
What I want to call your attention to is the importance of reading the Gospel daily and the Sunday Gospel a few days in advance. If I had not read this Sunday’s Gospel, I would have missed some of the deeper meaning in the article. By reading scripture and praying the rosary, I can put all the news and events in my life into a perspective that I otherwise might miss. If you don’t already pray the rosary and read scripture regularly, give it a try. Advent is right around the corner and it would be a good time to start.
This Sunday we celebrate The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The Gospel is from St. Luke:
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The rosary connection is fairly obvious as St. Luke writes about Jesus’ crucifixion which is the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery. Here we see Jesus’ divine power amidst His human weakness. Battered and broken, Jesus is minutes away from shedding His humanity by dying on the cross. But almost like a scale, what Jesus loses through his physical body is counter-balanced by His authority and power in the spiritual realm. He shows us He is king, not by any earthly standard, but by redeeming us all through suffering and death.
What is amazing is that Jesus’ kingly authority is so transparent to one criminal and opaque to the other. One challenges Jesus to save them while the other humbly asks Jesus to simply remember him. And doesn’t the difference in the two criminals interaction with Jesus remind us of how we often treat Jesus? One day we humbly ask Him for guidance and protection and other days we are challenging Him to prove Himself by answering our every wish and desire. Sometimes we treat Jesus as King of Heaven and humbly submit to His will. And other times we come close to threatening Him if He does not give us what we want.
When you reflect on this Gospel and pray the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary, ask yourself, how much of your life is spent treating Jesus as your king and how much as your servant? Do you have the strength to look past your immediate circumstances and see that Jesus is willing to offer you something so much better — eternal joy in His Heavenly Kingdom? Instead of telling Jesus what you want Him to do, do you have the faith to just ask Him to remember you knowing that He will take care of you?
The Church is celebrating the year of mercy. Consider this. Both criminals crucified next to Jesus were sinners. But Jesus showed mercy telling one that he would be with Jesus in paradise that day. Jesus’ power and mercy are so great, there is no amount or type of sin that it cannot overpower. All you have to do is humbly ask the Lord to remember you.
Hopefully, you can take a break from all the election related news and meditate on this Sunday’s Gospel. It’s a long one so I’m just pasting the part I want to focus on in this post.
“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
This Gospel reading focuses on the importance of having faith by putting your life entirely in God’s hands. We all too often think that we can manage our lives on own without help from anyone, including God. When faced with challenges, many of us have a tendency to try to fight it on our own because we would think of ourselves as weak by admitting that we need help. Or we will think that we somehow cheated by receiving assistance.
Jesus tells us not to be foolish. God offers us not only His assistance but is willing to take the entire burden if only we let Him. Jesus told his disciples to not prepare a defense for He would provide wisdom. That promise is not just true for times of persecution, but for all our challenges, big and small, we encounter daily.
So many of us only tentatively accept God’s help and usually only on our terms. We tend to treat God’s help as a last resort. We come to Him in prayer when all else seems to have failed. This creates a manager/employee relationship where we falsely take the role of manager and God exists to take direction from us. The Gospel tells us that we need to put God 100% in control of our lives. Any other amount shows arrogance on our part believing that we can manage our lives any better than God can.
When I think about the power of faith, the Fifth Luminous Mystery of the rosary comes to mind. Jesus asks us to have incredible faith in His presence in the Eucharist. He asks us to put away that idea that what we see, smell, feel, and taste is not a piece of bread but is entirely Him! That is a tall order and similar to the amount of faith He asked of His disciples to let Him guide them when faced with challenges and persecution.
When we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we should remember that all things good come from God. A reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us of that fact:
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
If God wants nothing but the best for you, do you have enough faith to yield to His Will 100%? Or are you holding anything back? Jesus tells us he will take care of us. Is your faith strong enough that you believe Him?
Jesus said to his disciples,
“A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
‘What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one.
To the first he said,
‘How much do you owe my master?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’
The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
“For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant 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 both God and mammon.”
I always found this parable of the disgraced steward confusing. I could not wrap my brain around how lowering the amount each debtor owed the steward’s master would bring praise and not further disdain. I always thought the master would be more upset that his steward was essentially letting debtors off the hook for no good reason and hence, cutting into his master’s wealth.
I then read commentary that made this parable all make sense. What if the steward had been overcharging the debtors and pocketing the difference for himself? For example, suppose the debtor who supposedly owed 100 measures of olive oil really only owed 50. When the steward reduced the debt he actually cut out the inflated portion he was keeping for himself. By cutting out his underserved share of the debt he was no longer serving his selfish wants, but the true business of his master. And now Jesus’ warning at the end of the Gospel makes a lot more sense. At first, the steward served only mammon (money). But he then gives that up to serve the will of his master who represents God in the parable.
When I think about this Gospel passage, my mind keeps coming back to the Fifth Joyful Mystery — The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. I think about how Mary and Joseph had to search for Jesus for three long days in sorrow before eventually finding him. I liken that to the redemptive suffering many must undertake to reform their wayward and sinful ways and align with God’s Will. The steward in the Gospel was also faced with a painful situation — being dismissed from his position with few options to earn a living. He also had to undergo a form of redemptive suffering by letting go of the money he was keeping for himself. But in doing so, he redeemed himself in the eyes of his master.
When we pray the Fifth Joyful Mystery, maybe we should be mindful of our attachment to our earthly possessions. Do we need to undergo a form of redemptive suffering by parting with our money and giving it to the less fortunate? Do we have faith that in giving more to the poor we actually receive something much greater — God grace? The steward didn’t know that his master would look favorably upon his actions. Mary and Joseph did not know if they would find Jesus. But we have an advantage in this aspect because we know how God will look at us when we give to the poor instead of holding it for ourselves. Jesus tells us repeatedly in the Gospel how we will be rewarded in Heaven. The question for you is, do you have the faith to believe in that promise?
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).
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 Mystery — The 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.
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.
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 Vanderbiltetiquette 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.
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.