Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reflection for the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Supplement Your Faith

In today's first reading, St. Peter tells us to supplement our faith. He then provides a long string of characteristics that we are to pile one on top of the other in order to grow in Christian life. Let's look at these in some detail.

First, the verb translated here as “supplement” is epichorēgeō, and it implies a lavish provision intended to accomplish a great goal. For Christians, of course, that great goal is intimacy and eternal life with God. That life begins with faith, but it does not end there.

St. Peter tells us to supplement or lavishly add virtue to our faith. Virtue here is aretē or moral excellence. To virtue, we add knowledge, gnōsis, the kind of wisdom gained by direct personal experience. To knowledge, we add self-control, egkrateia. This indicates a mastery over ourselves. We guide our lives by our reason and our obedience to God's law rather than letting our passions and emotions run away with us.

To self-control, we add endurance, hupomonē, which is a steadfastness that allows us to remain under the trials of this life, persevere in faith, hope, and love, and even remain joyful in the midst of darkness. To endurance, we add devotion, eusebeia. This is piety, our right response to God. We worship Him with great reverence and seek to imitate Him in everything. To devotion, we add mutual affection, philadelphia, by which we recognize and love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

To top off all of this, we add love, agapē, the kind of self-giving love that wills the absolute best for the other and is willing to sacrifice the self to achieve it. This kind of love is a share in the very love of the Blessed Trinity.

This long list could seem overwhelming, but we must realize that we are not left to achieve all of this on our own. We can't. God is the One Who will lavishly provide all of these gifts if only we ask Him and gratefully open our hearts to receive them.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Tuesday – Confident and Unafraid

“I am confident and unafraid.” God is my Savior. He pours out all the graces I need to come to know Him and love Him and spend eternity with Him. He fills me with strength and courage and wisdom. He fights against my enemies. He provides peace and joy in the depths of my being. He inspires me to praise and worship Him with wonder and reverence. He enters into me in the Holy Eucharist and permeates me with His presence and His love. He gives me His very Self, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. How could I be anything but confident and unafraid?

Wednesday – God of the Living

The Sadducees were itching to trip up Jesus. They firmly believed that there was no such thing as resurrection, and they were determined to get Him to admit it. So they concocted a long story about a woman with seven husbands and asked Jesus whose wife she would be at the resurrection. It seemed like the perfect trap.

But of course, it wasn't. Jesus brushed the whole matter aside quite handily. He told the Sadducees that they were simply wrong and did not know the Scriptures. Marriage was a temporal state that would no longer be necessary at the resurrection, but even more importantly, there would indeed be a resurrection. When God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, Jesus reminded the Sadducees, He said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” 

Notice the present tense: I am. God made it quite clear that He was still the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob right at that moment even though the patriarchs had been dead for centuries. Since God is a God of the living and not the dead, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had to be still living. And if the “dead” were still really living, then resurrection was a definitely possibility. God, being Who He is, wants His children to have the fullness of life, not just life of the soul, but life of the body, too. Therefore, Jesus concluded, resurrection of the dead was a reality, and the Sadducees were “greatly misled.”

This passage should give us great hope. This earthly life isn't all there is. Our God is a God of the living, and if we are in His grace when our earthly bodies die, our souls will move on to even greater and more abundant life. Then, at the end of time, when God is ready, He will raise our bodies to life, too. Jesus is the first fruits of that resurrection, but we will follow and be able to embrace life to its fullest.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reflection for the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – The Priesthood of the Faithful

We are all priests. Did you know that? Most of us, of course, aren't the kind of priests who say Mass, preach, hear confessions, or anoint the sick. Those tasks belong to an ordained priesthood of a different quality. But average, everyday Christians are called to be priests, too, for when we were baptized, we were given a share in the priesthood of Christ. We became part of the priesthood of the faithful.

What do we, as priests, do then? We offer sacrifice. That's what all priests do. But we sacrifice in a way specially designed for our status as lay people. We offer to God our prayers and penances, our joys and sufferings, our thoughts and words, our rest and our activity. Even more, we offer up our very selves. We give ourselves to God as living sacrifices, obedient, trusting, and loving. We serve God faithfully, and we serve our neighbors for love of God. We offer God everything we have and everything we are, and when we do so, God gives Himself back to us, His priests, and makes us channels of His love and grace to everyone around us.

Friday – Jesus in the Temple

Take a moment to picture the scene in today's Gospel. Jesus enters the Temple, and He doesn't like what He sees. The courtyard is filled with merchants selling sacrificial animals and money changers proclaiming the latest exchange rates. The whole place looks far more like a busy, noisy marketplace than a quiet, reverent house of prayer.

Filled with zeal, Jesus proceeds to correct the problem. He overturns the booths of the merchants and money changers and drives them out. He stops people from carrying items through the Temple (as if it were merely another route home rather than God's dwelling). “Is it not written,” He asks, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have made it a den of thieves.”

The Jews were shocked by Jesus' behavior, but He didn't care. The Temple was supposed to be all about God, not money.

This reading has important applications to our own lives and actions. First off, it nudges us to examine our own behavior in Church. Are we prayerful and reverent when we enter God's Church and come before the Tabernacle? Do our behavior and appearance at Mass show our respect for God and our appreciation of the great gifts He has given us in the Word and Sacrament? Do we allow our worldly interests to crash into our devotion and worship? Do we really see God's Church as a house of prayer?

Second, Jesus sometimes has to clean out our hearts and minds in the same way He cleaned out the Temple. He wants to overthrow the sinful tendencies and worldly thinking that fill us. He wants to cleanse us that we may be prayerful, reverent temples of the Holy Spirit. Will we allow Him to drive out everything in us that is not worthy of Him? Will we let Him help us to turn our full attention to God and welcome Him into our freshly cleansed hearts and minds?

Saturday – Thirsting

“My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.” Come and fill me with Your love.
“My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.” Come and teach me Your ways.
“My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.” Come and meet me in the sacraments.
“My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.” Come and greet me in Your word.
“My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.” Come and drench me in Your mercy.
“My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.” Come and wrap me in Your arms.
“My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.” Come and prepare me to be with You for all eternity.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Reflection for the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Tested by Fire

God allows our faith to be tested by fire. The fire of suffering and trials and even doubts does more to purify our faith than anything else, for it teaches us to rely wholly on God rather than on our own strength and understanding. Like gold, our faith can be impure and mixed. As gold is set in fire to burn off the impurities, our faith is set in fire that it may be free from admixture and free to be on fire with love for God.

Lord, I thank You for testing and refining my faith. Make it shine like the purest gold that I may be totally Yours. Amen.

Tuesday – A Strange Reversal

In today's Gospel, Jesus speaks of a strange reversal: “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

God's ways are not our ways. People who seem to be doing very well in this world, those who are successful and rich and famous, will one day find themselves at the back of the pack. They will see that what they value now has no eternal significance. Their money and reputation will fade away into nothing.

But some of those upon whom the world looks with contempt will find themselves right up at the top. People who have given up everything to follow Christ, people who speak out for truth and goodness no matter what the cost, people who are misunderstood and even ridiculed for their faith, these will be the leaders in eternal life. These are the ones who have their priorities set right. These are the ones who put God first. God in turn will put them first.

Wednesday – A Request

James and John had a request for Jesus: “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” Perhaps Jesus was a bit amused as He responded to this direct demand. “What do you wish Me to do for you?” He replied.

James and John didn't hesitate: “Grant that in Your glory we may sit one at Your right and the other at Your left.”

Did Jesus sigh and shake His head when He told them that they didn't really know what they were asking? Could they suffer as He was about to suffer? Could they drink of the chalice of pain? Could they handle the baptism of blood?

James and John didn't really understand what Jesus was talking about, so they answered with a confident, “We can.”

Jesus assured them that they would indeed share in His sufferings, but He also told them that the seats on His right and left were not up for grabs. They would be given to the ones for who they had been prepared. He didn't reveal any further details.

The other disciples were quite miffed with James and John for presuming to ask such a question. They probably mumbled things like, “Who do they think they are?” and “They're no better than the rest of us.”

Jesus knew a teaching moment when He saw one, and He gave the disciples a lesson in humility, reminding them that true leaders were servants, just as He Himself was a servant Who had come to give His very life “as a ransom for many.” James and John's unthinking request had turned into an opportunity for revelation.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Reflection for the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Priorities

In today's Gospel, Jesus challenges us to examine our priorities. What is more important, He seems to ask, your physical life or your eternal soul?

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off,” He proclaims. “It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.”

“And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off,” He continues. “It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.”

“And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out,” He concludes. “Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”

Does Jesus really mean for us to take these shocking statements literally? Should we really do such violence to ourselves? No. This is an example of the exaggerated rhetoric Jesus sometimes uses to get and hold our attention. Our hands, feet, and eyes do not really cause us to sin, but our greed, pride, and selfishness do. Those are the things that we must cut off and pluck out if we are to let go of sin and enter into eternal life with God.

Jesus leaves us with a question of priorities. What do we need to let go of if we truly want to embrace Him?

Friday – Persevere

Life is not easy. We all learn that from a very young age. Our fragile bodies are easily weakened and broken. We get sick. Natural disasters sweep down upon us. Circumstances change rapidly. People leave us or betray us. We lose loved ones to death.

But through it all, God calls us to persevere. We keep going through the rough times because we know there is something more than this earthly life. We trust that God has a plan and that everything that happens to us can teach us something important and help us prepare for eternity. We cling to our faith that God is merciful and compassionate and will never give us more than we can handle. If He allows us to be tried, it's because He wants to strength and purify us.

We agree, then, with St. James when he says, “Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered.”

Saturday – Prayer like Incense

“Let my prayer come like incense before You.”

Just picture that for a moment: your prayers rising up like fragrant incense before God. Inhale the sweet and spicy blend of praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and petition. Get lost in the dense cloud of love rising up to the throne of the One Who is Love. Meet Him in that cloud, greet Him there, and settle in for a long stay. Keep the incense of prayer flowing up from the depths of your being, every moment of every day. Live in God's presence with your heart focused eternally on Him.

“Let my prayer come like incense before You.”

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Reflection for the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Help My Unbelief!

A scared, desperate father with a suffering son. A group of bewildered men who didn't know how to help. Angry, combative scribes out for an argument. A large crowd watching and listening intently. Such was the scene that greeted Jesus, Peter, James, and John when they climbed down from Mount Tabor.

The son was possessed by a demon who continually endangered his life and had been doing so for many years. His father had heard of a miracle worker and figured he'd take a change. But all he found was the Man's disciples, and they could do nothing even though they tried. The scribes argued. The crowd waited.

Then Jesus appeared. He listened carefully as the father explained the situation. Then He sighed and said, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to Me.”

The demon immediately threw the young man onto the ground. The father pleaded with Jesus, “...if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

“'If you can!'” Jesus replied, “Everything is possible to one who has faith.”

Staring at his thrashing son, the father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”

Jesus ordered the spirit to come out of the young man. It obeyed. It had no choice. Jesus took the young man by the hand, raised him up, and gave him back to his father, finally free of his suffering.

“I do believe, help my unbelief!” This is all Jesus expects. He knows that we, like this poor, frightened father, want to believe. He understands that we are weak in faith. But He wants our efforts. He wants our admission that our belief is often intermixed with unbelief. He can and does work with that, and He can and does help us increase our faith so long as we have open and honest hearts.

Tuesday – Submit, Resist, Draw Near

In today's first reading, St. James offers three essential pieces of advice.

1. “[S]ubmit yourselves to God.” The Greek verb here is hupotassō, and it literally means to place under an arrangement. So when we submit to God in this sense, we are subjecting ourselves to His plan, His arrangement, for our lives. We recognize that God is in control, that He can see infinitely further the we can, and that His goal is our eternal beatitude. We are willing to obey Him and accept whatever He gives and allows, trusting that He knows exactly what is best for us.

2. “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” Temptations surround us, and the enemy is always doing his best to pull us off course and off the path to Heaven. He fills our minds with doubts. He stirs up our passions and emotions. He tries his best to lead us into sin. But we don't have to give in. We have free will, and we can and must say a firm no to the enemy. The Greek verb for “resist” is anthistēmi, and it literally means to stand against completely. When we hold our ground against the enemy and allow God to help us in our fight, the enemy will flee.

3. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” God is, of course, near us always, but we aren't always aware of His presence. When we snuggle close to God, when we seek intimacy with Him, when we pray and read the Scriptures and devoutly receive the sacraments, we become much more attuned to His ever-present love.

So let us submit to God's plan, resist the Devil, and draw ever closer and closer to our loving God.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Wednesday – Poor in Spirit

Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may rely on You alone.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may be humble.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may recognize that You give me everything I have and everything I am.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may pray with a sincere and loving heart.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may trust You completely.
Lord, make me poor in spirit that I may be all Yours for all eternity.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reflection for the 7th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Confidence

Today's psalm emphasizes the confidence that we can and should have in our loving God. The Lord is our refuge, that safe place where we can go for help and healing. He nourishes us with the best food and gives us the best advice. He stays right next to us all the time, closer to us than we are to ourselves. We may not always feel His presence, but He is always there, caring for us, comforting us, teaching us. He will never abandon us.

Therefore, we should rejoice and delight in Him and worship Him and praise His holy name, confident that our God will indeed show us the path to life.

Friday – What Kind of Love?

In today's Gospel, we listen to the famous scene in which Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times and then, at Peter's affirmative responses, tells Peter to feed and tend His flock.

What most people don't realize, however, is that there are two different words for “love” being used in the dialogue. The first two times Jesus asks Peter, He uses the verb agapaō. This word, which appears for the very first time in the New Testament, refers to a special kind of love. It's really a share in divine love, the kind of love that wills the absolute best for another and is willing to sacrifice the self for another. It's the kind of love that Jesus had when He went to the cross. It's the kind of love that the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity have for each other. It's the kind of love that our Lord asks us to cultivate.

Peter, however, doesn't use the verb agapaō in his response to Jesus. When he says that he loves Jesus, he uses the verb phileō. This word also means love and indicates strong affection and intimacy, warm companionship and kinship, tenderness and care. But it is love on a human level; it does not reach up into the heights of the divine.

Why does Peter use phileō instead of agapaō? Perhaps he isn't sure quite what Jesus means by agapaō. Maybe he doesn't realize the difference between the two words and is simply using the one that is most familiar to him. Or perhaps he isn't quite ready to make a commitment to divine love. After all, he hasn't yet received the Holy Spirit.

Jesus and Peter use these two words for love in their first two exchanges. In the third exchange, something changes. Jesus also uses the verb phileō, and Peter answers with the same. In doing so, Jesus seems to be meeting Peter where he is, accepting Peter's less-than-perfect love as a starting point that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will grow and mature and someday turn into the divine love expressed by the verb agapaō, the love that participates in the very life of the Trinity.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Saturday – Friends

Do you know that Jesus calls us His friends if we keep His commands? Friends, not servants, not slaves, but friends. Friends live in intimacy with one another. Friends know many things about each other. Friends understand each other. Friends share the details of their lives with each other. Friends support each other in good times and bad. Friends are always present to each other even when they are physically far apart. Friends love each other.

We are Jesus' friends if we keep His commands. And what are these commands? They point to the very nature of friendship itself. Jesus commands us to love God and to love one another. When we love, we live in intimacy with our Lord. We know and understand Him. We share the details of our lives with Him and He with us. We receive His support at all times. He is present to us, and we are to Him. We share a love with Him that is beyond all telling.

Jesus, thank You for calling me Your friend. May I always keep You commands. Amen.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reflection for the 7th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – A Debater

Paul was a debater. He was a master at presenting rational arguments about the truth of the Christian faith and why people should accept it. He possessed a knack for logic and a way with words that touched his hearers' minds as well as their hearts. For Paul, persuasion tended to be more about intellect and will than emotion. His goal was to explain the faith in a reasonable manner and thereby lead people to see the truth and make a choice to accept it.

Today, however, many Christians turn toward emotion when they evangelize and catechize. Their message focuses on the good feelings Christianity can bring to believers and the emotional benefits of faith.

While emotion is certainly part of the picture, it doesn't provide a very strong foundation for faith. Feelings can change quickly, and when the emotional high goes away, faith can soon follow if it isn't build on something stronger.

That's why Paul focused so much on reason and will. When our faith is based on strong, rational, intellectual evidence and argument, it is a lot less likely to sway with every emotional breeze. Therefore, we must seek to learn as much as we can about our Christian faith and grow in our understanding so that, as St. Peter added, we may always be able to give a reason for the hope that we hold so dear (1 Peter 3:15).

Tuesday – A Farewell

The end was drawing near. Paul knew it. The Holy Spirit had been speaking to him, warning him of trials to come and instructing him to go to Jerusalem. Now, as he gathered the presbyters of Ephesus around him one last time, he was sure that he would never see any of them again. It was time to say farewell.

So he gave them some final reminders. He told them to recall how he had lived among them, always serving God, teaching the whole Gospel message without watering it down, calling all people to repentance, and witnessing to the truth of Christianity with his very life. They, Paul implied, must do the same.

Soon Paul was ready to depart. He didn't know exactly what the future would bring, other than hardship and imprisonment, but he was prepared to meet it head on. “I consider life of no importance to me,” he told the presbyters, “if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.”

Wednesday – Consecrated in Truth

Today's Gospel gives us a glimpse of one of Jesus' prayers to the Father. As He prays for His disciples, He says,

“They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.
As You sent Me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate Myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

Let's look closely at these beautiful words. Jesus begins with an important truth. His disciples do not belong to the world. They do not take part in the selfish, materialistic wickedness of worldly life. Just as Jesus is separate from all of that, so are His followers.

Further, Jesus prays that the Father will consecrate His disciples in truth. The Greek word translated as “consecrate” here is hagiazō, and it literally means to make holy or to set apart as holy or to sanctify. Jesus' disciples are not in the world because they are set apart as God's only property. They belong to God, and they are called to love and serve God, clinging to the truth that they have come to know and accept. The truth has set them for God.

And what is this truth? God's Word is truth, Word with a capital W. Jesus Christ, the Logos, the Word, the Son of God. He is truth in person.

Jesus then says that just as the Father sent Him into the world, He is sending His disciples. They have a mission, and it won't be an easy one. As they spread the Gospel, they will encounter suffering and even death from a hostile world. But they know the Truth, and they must proclaim it no matter what the cost.

Jesus ends with a rather puzzling statement. He says that He consecrates Himself for them that they may be consecrated in truth. The Greek word here is the same as above, so we may well ask how Jesus can make Himself holy. Isn't He already holy? Yes, of course He is. Here He is consecrating Himself, setting Himself apart, for God's purpose, for the Father's will. And what is the Father's will? The cross. Jesus is setting Himself apart, consecrating Himself to go to the cross. He will pay the price so that His disciples may be consecrated in truth, that they may be freed from sin and take their places as God's children for all eternity.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Reflection for the 6th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – A New Song

“Sing to the Lord a new song...” A new song. How do we sing a new song to God? Does He expect us all to be skilled in musical composition and filled with infinite creativity?

No. But He does want us to sing to Him anew every day. This song that we sing, the song of our lives, the song of our praise and worship, the song of our hopes and fears, the song of our love, can always be new and fresh because every day is different. Every day brings some new way to interact with God; something new to learn about Him, about His plan for us, and about ourselves; some new situation or person in which to recognize and serve Him; some new stimulus for prayer and praise.

So every day we can sing a new song to the Lord, the song we live in intimacy with Him.

Friday – Grief to Joy

Jesus knew where He was going: to the cross. His disciples were about to experience the worst possible grief, that of seeing their Lord die a horrific death at the hands of the Romans. They would think that all their hopes were shattered, that everything they were clinging to was sliding through their hands, that God had abandoned them. They would “weep and mourn” while the world rejoiced.

But that was not the end of the story. There was something more to come, something wonderful, something amazing, something they would never really expect (even though they had been told of it). When that happened, their grief would turn to joy, an intense joy, a joy that penetrated all the way into their hearts, a joy that could never be taken from them. Jesus didn't say what this event would be, but we know that He rose from the dead.

This pattern of grief and joy is very much present in our lives. We, too, weep and mourn. We grieve for loved ones who are ill and for loved ones who die. Our grief is real and intense, but it is not the end of the story. Joy will come to us, too, perhaps the joy of healing but ultimately the joy of being reunited with our loved ones in Heaven, a joy that will never be taken from us. For this we pray. Amen.

Saturday – Fullness

Apollos had only part of the picture. He knew about Jesus, and he believed in Him. He even taught all about Him and about the Christian Way with great enthusiasm and to great effect. But Apollos was missing some things. He lacked the fullness of the faith. He was missing out on the sacramental life of the Church.

When Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos speak, they knew what they had to do. They drew him aside and told him the rest of the story. He drank it in with relish and, presumably, was baptized right away.

Now, with the fullness of Christianity behind him (and in his heart), Apollos became even more of a powerhouse preacher, teaching and encouraging believers and refuting unbelievers. He had everything he needed.

We often see people like Apollos in the Christianity of today. What they have is good, but they lack important elements of Christianity, usually the sacramental life and authority of the Church. But when they discover the fullness of Catholicism, they become powerhouse preachers and teachers. We need only to look to the likes of Scott Hahn, Peter Kreeft, G.K. Chesterton, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, and Blessed John Henry Newman for examples.

Lord, may everyone who lacks the fullness of the Christian faith, which is found in the Catholic Church, find it, embrace it, and never leave it. Amen.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reflection for the 6th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – Lydia

Lydia was really quite a remarkable woman. A resident of Philippi but originally from Thyatira, Lydia was a Gentile, but she was also a God-fearer, someone who had discovered the Jewish faith, recognized truth in it, and practiced it to the extent that she could as a woman and a Gentile. She knew the God of the Jews; she worshiped Him; and she loved Him.

Lydia was also a business woman. She was a dealer in purple cloth, which was a luxury item in the ancient world. She was probably fairly wealthy and influential in her community.

She also had a wide open heart. So when she heard Paul speak about Jesus Christ and the salvation He brought to the world, she was deeply touched. She realized that this message contained everything she had ever wanted, everything she was trying to find in Judaism. Her heart embraced Paul's words, and she was filled with faith in Jesus. Lydia was baptized immediately along with her whole household, and she offered Paul and his companions her hospitality.

We can imagine that Lydia's Christian journey continued long after Paul left Philippi. She was in a prime position to spread the Gospel through her business dealings and her status in the community, and we can be sure this strong, smart woman did just that with great love for Jesus, His Church, and the world.

Tuesday – Kerygma

In our first reading today, we have a prime example of the Christian kerygma, i.e., the basic Christian message of salvation, the heart of the Gospel. St. Paul reminds the Corinthians of several key facts:

1. “Christ died for our sins...”
2. This happened “in accordance with the Scriptures...” In other words, Old Testament foretold the sacrificial death of the Messiah.
3. Christ was buried. He was really dead and in the tomb.
4. Christ rose from the dead on the third day.
5. He appeared to His apostles and disciples, including five hundred of them at one time.
6 Eye witnesses to those appearances are still alive at the time Paul writes, and they can verify his words.
7. Christ appeared to Paul.

These are some of the basics of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ really died to save us and rose again. This is a fact confirmed by witnesses. This kerygma is designed to spark faith in people. When that spark is kindled, it can grow into a flame that leads to deeper knowledge (i.e., of Christ's divinity, the Trinity, etc.) and to the sacraments, in which believers receive sanctifying grace, the indwelling presence of God Himself deep within their souls.

Wednesday – The Spirit of Truth

Jesus had so much He wanted to tell His disciples, but they weren't ready for it yet. They didn't have the capacity to understand, and He didn't want to overwhelm them. So before He died He gave them a promise: “But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth.”

The Spirit, Jesus continued, would speak to them what He had heard. The disciples didn't realize it yet, but the Spirit, as the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, was privy to the entire inner life of God, and He heard and knew all. He was certainly well qualified to pass on to them whatever they needed to know.

The Spirit would proclaim things to come, explain things past and present, and declare the revelation of the Father and the Son. Jesus explained, “He will glorify Me, because He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is Mine...” Therefore, the Spirit would show the disciples a glimpse of the very inner workings and life of the Trinity.

And that's exactly what happened. The Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost and changed them. He poured truth into their hearts and gave the understanding and courage to proclaim it to the world. He does the same for us if we open our minds, hearts, and souls to Him. He is truly our Spirit of truth.