Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reflection for the 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – I Was No Prophet

Amaziah, priest of Israel, had a big problem in the form of a pesky prophet. Amos wouldn't shut up. He kept prophesying against the northern kingdom of Israel, calling out its rulers and people for their sins. Amaziah just wanted to get rid of Amos, so he basically told him to take a hike and go prophesy in the southern kingdom if he was so insistent upon making a career as a prophet.

Amos responded (probably with a sniff), “I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.” He certainly hadn't asked for the job, but God had called him, and he had obeyed. Now, though, he had a mission and a message, and he was bound to see them through even if he had to be a pesky prophet.

Friday – Matthew

If there were ever anyone least likely to be a disciple of Jesus, Matthew was probably the one. He was a tax collector and therefore despised by his fellow Jews for collaborating with the Romans and taking money from his fellow countrymen. Matthew may or may not have been like many tax collectors who charged higher than the standard rate and then skimmed a good portion of the top for themselves. But in any case, he wasn't a prime candidate for a holy man's followers.

But Jesus chose Matthew anyway, very simply and very directly. All He said to him was “Follow Me,” and Matthew got up and followed Him. We might wonder what else was going on. Did Jesus catch Matthew's eye in a particular way? What was the tone of His voice? What was the expression on His face? The Bible doesn't tell us, but we know that something about Jesus touched Matthew to his very core because he never hesitated and he never looked back. At that moment, Matthew left his entire life behind and started fresh, following the One Who would become his whole eternity.

Saturday – My Voice

In today's Gospel acclamation we hear, “My sheep hear My voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow Me.”

Do we hear the Lord's voice? Do we pay attention when He speaks to us in the depths of our hearts? Through our conscience? Through our mother, the Church? In the Sacred Scriptures? In nature? Through the people around us? Through the events of our lives? Do we recognize His voice?

Our Lord knows exactly what we need to hear and when we need to hear it. He knows us better then we know ourselves. Every hair on our heads is counted. That's how well He knows us and how much He loves us.

Do we follow Him?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reflection for the 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Forgetting God

In today's psalm, God seems rather hard on people who forget Him: “Consider this, you who forget God, lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you.” We might think this somewhat harsh. Humans tend to be distracted, after all. Many things catch and hold our attention, and it's hard to remember everything we're supposed to be doing.

This, of course, is no excuse. God is our Creator and Father. He keeps us in existence at every moment of our lives and gives us everything we have and everything we are. How, then, could we forget Him? How could we be so ungrateful as to not give thanks? How could we not want to speak to Him and love Him and be in relationship with Him? He loves us so much. How could we refuse to love Him in return?

Therefore, we need to work on our recollection. First, we must pray during the day at least several times. God should be the first One we talk to in the morning and the last One we say good night to in the evening. We must set aside blocks of time to converse with Him and listen to what He has to say to us in the Scriptures. Then, we must carry that conversation with us throughout the day. We can meditate on His words in spare moments and turn our minds to Him with little prayers of praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and petition. We must train ourselves to think of God often and be aware of His presence as much as we possibly can.

If we do this, well, just listen to God's promise: “He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies Me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”

Tuesday – O You of Little Faith

Jesus was sound asleep in the boat when the storm swept down upon it. The wind howled and the waves crashed, threatening to overwhelm the little boat and pull it beneath the sea. In terror, the helpless disciples cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

Awakening, Jesus calmly looked around, took stock of the situation, and asked, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then He spoke to the wind and the sea, and they immediately settled down. All was calm and peaceful. The disciples could hardly believe their eyes. “What sort of man is this,” they asked each other, “Whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

Take a moment to reflect on this situation. What would you have done if you had been in the disciples' place? How would you have felt in the midst of the storm? What would you have thought of Jesus' demeanor and actions? Would He have a reason to say “O you of little faith” to you?

We all have our own storms in life. Jesus may seem to be asleep when we are in the midst of them. We may not feel His presence, or He may be silent. But we must still have faith. Our God does have every situation under control. He is in charge even when we don't sense it. He has a plan, and we must trust that He will work out everything for our good if only we stay close to Him and obey His will with love.

Wednesday – Radiant with Joy

On this feast of Saints Peter and Paul, we see disciples who are radiant with joy because they trust in God and keep their eyes fixed on Him.

St. Peter ends up in prison because he refuses to stop preaching the Gospel. Then a miracle happens. Even though Peter is heavily guarded, his guards remain asleep as an angel enters his cell. The chains fall from Peter's wrists. Peter obeys the angel's orders, puts on his belt, sandals, and cloak, and follows the angel straight out of prison. Only when he passes through the city gates does Peter realize that he is truly free, and his heart soars with joy in his saving God.

St. Paul echoes that joy in his second letter to Timothy. Paul is in prison, facing execution, but his heart is light, and he is filled with joy. “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith,” he declares. “From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me...” God has given him the strength to persevere in the faith and proclaim it to the Gentiles, but now he is ready to go home. He sees the Kingdom of God before him, and he can't help but radiate joy.

We, too, are called to be radiant with joy. And why shouldn't we be? Even in the darkest circumstances, our God loves us and stands beside us, protecting us and caring for us. We need only to trust Him and love Him in return.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Reflection for the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Rock and Sand

In today's Gospel, Jesus compares a house built on rock to a house built on sand. The house built on rock possesses a firm foundation. The wind can blow, and the sea can rise, but the house isn't going anywhere. It's steady and solid and able to withstand the worst. The house built on sand, on the other hand, has no solid foundation. When the wind slams into it or the sea rises around it, it has no defense, no means of standing strong, and so it will fall.

These houses represent us. A person who is firm in the faith, hope, and love of God has a solid foundation. No matter what life throws at him, he will remain standing, for God upholds him. He has no need to fear the wind or the sea (i.e., the trials of life). He is rooted in Someone greater than any difficulty.

But a person who lacks the faith, hope, and love of God has no foundation. He slips and slides his way through life, fearing every breeze and every wave, unable to stand amidst trials and tribulations. He relies on himself, but he is not strong enough to cope. So he falls and is destroyed.

This leaves us with an important question: Which house are you?

Friday – I Am Not He

John the Baptist did not hesitate to tell the truth. He realized that the people were looking for the Messiah who was to come, and he understood that they viewed him as the most likely candidate. So he spoke up, immediately and firmly: “I am not He.”

John knew that he was merely the forerunner, the one who was to proclaim the Messiah's arrival and to prepare the people's hearts to accept Him. John's message was repentance. He wanted to scrub the people's hearts clean so they could properly welcome their Savior.

It would have been tempting for John to claim more for himself. The people were ready to give him their allegiance. He could have gone beyond his duty and made himself great in their eyes.

But he didn't. Instead, he declared, “Behold, One is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of His feet.” He made himself small because he knew how great the Messiah was. He decreased so that the Messiah could increase. And when his task was finished, John willingly laid down his life for the Truth he so faithfully announced.

Saturday – Authority

The Roman centurion recognized authority when he saw it. After all, he was accustomed to authority. He was under the authority of others, so he knew how to obey orders, but he also had authority over others, and he expected his orders to be obeyed immediately and without question. When he saw Jesus, then, he identified and appreciated His authority.

Therefore, the centurion didn't hesitate to make his request. His servant was ill, and he asked Jesus to heal him. Then he waited, trusting that Jesus was do what was right, whether His answer was yes or no.

Even after Jesus agreed to come and heal the servant, the centurion continued to rely upon His great authority. The centurion didn't feel worthy to receive Jesus into his home. He was a Gentile, after all, and he seemed to be well aware of his sins and weaknesses. So he told Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have You enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”

Jesus looked at the centurion in amazement, recognizing his humility, faith, and trust. He praised the man and announced that one day Gentiles like him would share in the Kingdom of Heaven. Then he told the centurion that he could go, for his servant was healed. Again, the centurion trusted and obeyed. And indeed, his servant got well at that very moment.

Do we, like the centurion, trust in Jesus' authority? Do we have the same faith, humility, and obedience? Do we truly believe that Jesus knows what is best for us and will do it? Are we open enough to receive His miracles?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Reflection for the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Consequences

Our choices and our actions have consequences. The Israelites found that out the hard way. They refused to keep God's law. They worshiped idols. They rejected the covenant. They decided they didn't want to be members of God's family. They struck out on their own and did what they wanted to do. And they paid the price for their disobedience.

It wasn't that they weren't warned. God sent numerous prophets to tell the Israelites that they were on the wrong path. He told them again and again what He expected of them. He let them know that His commandments were their only hope. He gave them chance after chance.

But they said a firm no. They wouldn't accept the covenant blessings God wanted to give them, so they ended up with the covenant curses instead. They made their decision, and they suffered the consequences. The king of Assyria swooped down upon the northern kingdom of Israel and swept it away. He carried the people off to his own land, where they eventually blended in with the natives. Ten tribes of Israel disappeared forever as they paid the consequences for their sins.

Tuesday – The Narrow Gate

Jesus tells us to enter through the narrow gate, but what does He really mean? Let's approach the problem by answering the six journalistic questions.

Who? Jesus' disciples are to enter through the narrow gate, and that means us! Anyone who follows Jesus, anyone who wants to be saved, anyone who wants a chance to go to Heaven must obey Jesus' command.

What? This narrow gate may seem mysterious. Jesus contrasts it to the wide gate and broad road that lead to destruction. The narrow gate, on the other hand, leads to salvation. And there is only one way to salvation: Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus is the narrow gate by which we enter into eternal life.

When? Jesus' command doesn't kick in just at the end of our lives. We must strive to enter through the narrow gate right now. We must get to know Jesus and get close to Him. When we are in a state of grace, we are already living eternal life, just not yet fully.

Where? The narrow gate isn't in any particular place. We should be with Jesus wherever we are. He is always right beside us.

Why? If we want to go to Heaven and spend eternity in the presence of the God Who loves us, then we must obey the command to enter through the narrow gate.

How? We enter through the narrow gate, i.e., we enter into and cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, through the sacraments, the liturgy, prayer, Scripture, works of love, and the moral life. We remained focused on God and strive to grow in love, keeping our eyes fixed on the narrow gate that is the entrance to our heavenly home.

Wednesday – Delight in God's Commands

Do you take delight in God's commands? Our culture teaches us that laws and rules are, at best, a burden, things that deprive us of our freedom and keep us trapped. But this is not true of God's commands.

God's commands are specially and carefully designed to make us free. They set boundaries for us so that we stay safe and are able to become the best human beings we can possibly be. They help us on our quest for truth, beauty, and goodness by showing us the paths that simply don't lead to these goals. God knows our human nature better than we do. After all, He created us. So He knows exactly what is best for us and what is worst for us. So He commands us to seek the best and avoid the worst.

Therefore, we can delight in God's commands, for He gives them out of love to show us the road home to Heaven.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reflection for the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – The Power of God

Have you ever stopped to think about how powerful God is? Look at today's psalm. God has control over all the elements, fire, earth, air, water. Fire flies out before Him, consuming His foes. Lightning flashes. Mountains tremble and melt. The whole earth falls down in worship before His glory.

Yet this all-powerful God loves us. He stoops down to care for us. He pours out His grace upon us. He forgives our sins. This all-powerful God became man and died to save us and open the gates of Heaven that we might live with Him for all eternity.

God is both transcendent, very far above us and more powerful than we can ever imagine, and imminent, closer to us than we are to ourselves and more in love with us than we can ever imagine. What a truly awesome God He is!

Friday – Treasure in Heaven

“But store up treasures in Heaven...” Where are your treasures? In a bank account? In your house or garage? At the office? What are your treasures? Money? Possessions? Fame? Your career?

Jesus tells us to store up treasures in Heaven. Treasures on earth don't last. They get used up or stolen. They can fade away quickly by mere changes in circumstance. But the treasures we have in Heaven last for eternity. 

What are these heavenly treasures? Grace, love, virtue, prayer, good works, and most of all an intimate relationship with God. These are the treasures we should hunt for. These are the treasures we should hang onto. These are the treasures we should set our hearts on because these are the treasures that we will enjoy always.

Saturday – A Brave Prophet

A prophet's life is never easy. Zechariah found that out in a hurry. The corrupt King Joash didn't like to hear what the Holy Spirit had to say through Zechariah, but Zechariah told him anyway. The king was breaking commandments right and left and, in doing so, had abandoned God. Therefore, God had abandoned the king in return.

Joash didn't hesitate to order that Zechariah be stoned to death. The brave prophet died with God's name on his lips, predicting that Joash would soon be punished for his actions, which, of course, he was.

Some day we, too, may be called to be brave like Zechariah. The Holy Spirit may prompt us to speak a message to the world that the world doesn't want to hear. And we may be persecuted for speaking out, perhaps even to death, just like Zechariah was. But fear didn't stop Zechariah, and it shouldn't stop us. We belong to God, and we are to spread His message and His ways throughout the whole world, continually, faithfully, and bravely, no matter what the cost.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Reflection for the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – A Pouting King and an Evil Queen

King Ahab was in a royal snit. He wanted Naboth's vineyard for a vegetable garden, but Naboth wouldn't give it to him. He had simply refused to release his ancestral land even though Ahab had offered him a better vineyard or even money. But that stubborn Naboth wouldn't agree. Didn't being king count for anything at all, Ahab pouted as he lay down on his bed, turned his face to the wall, and refused to eat.

It didn't take long for Ahab's wife, Jezebel, to get fed up with her husband's childish antics. She decided to take matters into her own hands. She made a few plans, wrote a few letters, nonchalantly had Naboth executed, and told her husband to get up and go take possession of his new vineyard. Jezebel, the evil queen par excellence, had solved her pouting king's problem, or so she thought.

Tuesday – Love Your Enemies

“But I say to you, love your enemies.” Jesus is very clear. By His command, on His authority, we must love our enemies.

We probably agree with Jesus that this is the ideal, but we might not quite be able to grasp what loving our enemies looks like in practice.

First off, let's talk about what loving our enemies doesn't look like. It doesn't have to be about emotional affection. We don't have to like people who hurt us. We don't have to spend time with them. We don't have to take their abuse. We don't have to feel any closeness to them whatsoever. We don't have to “fall in love” with them.

The kind of love that Jesus is talking about here is a choice of the will. It is a decision to wish our enemies the very best. It's a decision to let go of our grudges and desires for revenge (which really tie us down far more than they harm our enemies). This kind of love desires that our enemies change for the better, that they come to know Jesus, that they become stronger, more caring people, that they prosper with all the best kinds of success. And what's more, this kind of love actually prays that God will shower down all of these graces and more upon our enemies.

Loving our enemies in this way frees us from the pain caused by those who have hurt us, helps us imitate our Lord Who sends blessings down upon everyone (whether they are His friends or His enemies), and sets our hearts on the path to true forgiveness and peace.

Wednesday – Motives

In today's Gospel, Jesus encourages us to examine the motives behind our religious activities.

Are we like the hypocrites who blow trumpets and show off when they give alms because they hope that people will see and approve of them? We shouldn't be. Those people have already earned the reward of human admiration. They will not receive any divine recompense.

Are we like the hypocrites who stand on the street corner or even in church praying in the hopes that people will notice how holy we are and what a direct line we have to God? We shouldn't be. Those people aren't really praying to God. They're praying to themselves.

Are we like the hypocrites who look gloomy and messy when they fast so that people will see what a hardship they are undergoing and feel sorry for them? We shouldn't be. Those people are actually indulging themselves rather than fasting, and they will receive none of the blessings that fasts would otherwise bring.

What must we do then? We should give alms in secret so that our Father in Heaven sees us. We should pray in the depths of our hearts even when we pray in public so that we have a real conversation with God. We should fast in order to let go of ourselves and our desires and turn our attention to God. Then, Jesus says, “your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Reflection for the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Practical Reconciliation

Jesus offers us some practical advice in today's Gospel. We are to make peace with one another, to set aside our quarrels and treat each other with dignity and respect.

If we are on the way to worship God and we remember that someone is holding something against us (probably with good reason), we are to take a detour and reconcile with that person. The implication is that our worship will be less acceptable to God if we are immersed in an argument with another person. It makes sense really. How often have we gone to Mass still angry about a disagreement and found ourselves unable to concentrate or pray deeply?

Jesus continues by setting up a scenario in which we are on the way to court with an opponent over some conflict. Jesus tells us to settle that conflict on the way, to somehow work out a fair solution that will make both parties satisfied. We might wonder how to do this, but let us remember that stubbornness often lies at the heart of such conflicts. A willingness to bend a bit might be all it takes to keep such matters from getting out of hand.

Practical reconciliation, then, is what Jesus commands. We are to put aside our pride and make peace both with our neighbors and ultimately with ourselves.

Friday – The Tiny Whispering Sound

Elijah was just about at his wits' end. Pursued by the king and queen, he was hiding in a cave, waiting, he thought, for death. But God wasn't done with Elijah just yet. He had another important message for His prophet.

The Lord told Elijah to go and stand on the mountain, for He was about to pass by. Elijah obeyed. He stood there through a strong wind, through an earthquake, and through a fire. But God was not in any of these. Perhaps Elijah wondered what was going on. Had he misheard God?

Then there was a tiny whispering sound. And Elijah understood. He pulled his cloak over his face and went to stand at the mouth of the cave.

God whispers sometimes. We might expect Him to always be dramatic when He talks to us. We might look for great events and loud proclamations. And sometimes God speaks through those. But not always. Sometimes He talks to us through the little things, a whisper in our hearts perhaps, a gentle nudge, the smile of a friend, a simple prayer, a small act of caring. In these, too, God speaks of His great love.

Saturday – Set Apart

In today's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Lord tells the Church at Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a special mission. They were to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and spread the Gospel far and wide.

We, too, are set apart for God's work. Each of us has a mission in God's plan. Each of us has some task to do in order to spread the Gospel. Our job is to discern that mission, to figure out where God wants us to go and what He wants us to do. And to do that we must pray. We must listen to the voice of God in our hearts and minds. We must allow God to guide us, and we must watch for signs that He is leading us in a particular direction. Then we must follow Him, trusting that He will lead us exactly where He wants us to go.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Reflection for the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Our Guardian

In today's psalm, we hear that all our help comes from God, the One Who made the heavens and the earth yet stoops down to care for His children. He never sleeps but rather watches over us constantly. He stays right beside us, alert and protective.

Indeed, the Psalmist proclaims, God is our Guardian. The Hebrew word for guardian here is the participle of the verb shamar. It means to keep, to watch, to protect, and to preserve. And that's exactly what God does, day and night, wherever we are, at every moment of our lives.

If this is so, we might wonder why bad things happen to us. If God is truly guarding us, why aren't we safe from all evil? First off, sometimes we walk away from God's protection and go our own way. We make a free choice to step out of His rules and His care. Like a good parent, He still watches us, but He also sometimes lets us learn the lesson of what happens when we stray.

Second, God sometimes allows bad things to happen to us because He has a higher purpose for us. Suffering disciplines us. It teaches us things. It scrubs off the spiritual muck that accumulates on us because of sin. It conforms us to our Suffering Savior. It helps us grow in virtue. It even helps us spread God's graces to others in the process of subjective redemption. In this case, then, the bad things that happen to us are really part of God's loving care and guardianship. He is acting just like the protective Father that He is, watching over us, helping us grow, and preparing us for Heaven.

(Information about Hebrew vocabulary comes from

Tuesday – The Light of the World

Jesus is the light of the world. He shines as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity Who became Man in order to die for our sins and open the way to Heaven. His love and His teaching and His presence in the sacraments illuminate all who come to Him with open hearts and minds.

But Jesus doesn't want to be the only light in the world. In today's Gospel, He tells His disciples, and by extension us, “You are the light of the world...your light must shine before others...”

How can we be lights? We who are so small and weak and sinful? We who so often feel like we are in the dark?

We can be lights because we can shine with His light. When we were baptized, we received sanctifying grace, the very indwelling presence of God in our souls. If we remain in that grace, we have His light inside us. Our job is to become transparent so that light can shine through us to others. How do we become transparent? We ask God. We pray. We receive the sacraments with devotion. We read and meditate on the Scriptures. We work to grow in virtue. We perform acts of love.

Then, as we become more and more transparent, that light will shine before others, God's light illuminating the world through His children that all may see it and give Him glory.

Wednesday – A Dramatic Display

Today's first reading presents a dramatic display. The prophet Elijah is the last of his kind, the only remaining prophet of the one true God, but he is so confident in his Lord that he is willing to go head to head with the 450 prophets of Baal to prove to the people the identity of the real God.

The prophets take Elijah up on his challenge. He tells them to prepare a young bull, put it on the wood of the altar, and then call upon their god to come down in fire to devour the sacrifice. The prophets did so, but of course there was no answering spectacle, just silence. They jumped around and yelled. Still nothing. Elijah couldn't resist taunting them just a bit. “Call louder,” he encouraged sarcastically, “for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” The prophets obeyed. They didn't know what else to do, but the only response was a loud silence.

Finally Elijah put a stop to all the nonsense. He called the people over to him and proceeded to prepare his own sacrifice. But he added another element to the mix. He instructed the people to pour water all over the offering and the wood and the altar. They obeyed so well that water flowed down and settled in a trench. The whole place was soaked.

Then Elijah prayed, asking that God reveal Himself to the people that they might know Him. And God did. Fire flashed down from the sky and consumed the offering, the wood, the altar, the dust, and even the water in the trench. God had certainly made His point. The people fell on their faces, crying out, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!”

Does it take a dramatic display to turn our attention to God? Does He have to go all out to prove Himself to us? What does it take for us to realize how much God loves us? In fact, God has already given us an even more dramatic display than He created in response to Elijah's prayer. He suffered and died on the cross to save us from our sins, and He rose again on the third day, conquering death forever. How much more do we need?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Reflection for the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Teach Me

Are you willing to let God teach you? Will you say with the psalmist, “Teach me Your ways, O Lord”?

Such a request is a risk. God uses His own methods to help us learn what we need to know, and sometimes those methods don't seem all that pleasant to us. Suffering, for instance, tends to teach us much more than smooth sailing does, so sometimes God allows us to suffer so we can learn important lessons.

And what are those lessons that God wants to teach us? They aren't all that comfortable sometimes either. We need to learn to believe when all is dark, hope when we feel like despairing, and love when it's the last thing we want to do. We need to develop habits of virtue, and to do that we must often make difficult choices. We choose to be courageous when we want to run, honest when it would be easier to lie, patient when we feel like screaming, persevering when we would rather fall apart.

None of this is easy, but if we want to know God and His ways, then we must open our minds and hearts to His lessons. We must want to learn. We must beg God to teach us. And we must trust that the more we learn, the happier we will be because the closer we will come to our great Teacher.

Friday – Christ Died for Us

Christ died for us. We hear those words so often that they have become commonplace. We take them for granted but rarely stop to think about their true significance.

Christ died for us. We were sinners, separated from God, bent on doing our own will. We were shut out of Heaven by the sin of our first parents. God wouldn't have had to do anything about that. Human beings had made their choice. They had chosen themselves over Him. But He wouldn't leave us to perish.

So Christ died for us. He came to earth as a Man, still divine but human, too, so He could take our punishment, the curse of death upon Himself. And He did.

Christ died for us that we might live with Him. He suffered on the cross, and He died in His human nature. But death couldn't hold Him. He rose again on the third day, still both divine and human with a human nature higher than before, a human nature that, since His ascension, has entered into the very inner life of the Blessed Trinity.

Christ died for us. We are no longer constrained by sin. We can now have the indwelling presence of God in our very souls. We can choose to live today in such a way that we are already living in eternity. God's grace pours over us. He fills us with faith, hope, and love. We can share in His very life already now and one day fully in Heaven where we will see Him face to face.

That's why Christ died for us.

Saturday – Be Persistent
In today's first reading, Paul tells Timothy to “be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient.” Timothy is to proclaim God's word whether people want to hear it or not and live God's word even if it leads to ridicule and suffering. As a bishop, Timothy is to “convince, reprimand, [and] encourage” his flock with both patience and firmness. The people won't always listen, Paul warns. Many will follow their own paths, rejecting “sound doctrine” for their own interpretations. They will refuse to listen to the truth but rather prefer lies that support their own passions. Timothy will have to put up with much hardship, but he must never cease to evangelize, never cease to speak truth, never cease to work hard in order to draw people to Christ.

We might wonder how all of this applies to us. Most of us aren't bishops and don't have that level of responsibility. This reading does, however, invite us to examine ourselves. Are we those people who prefer lies to truth? Do we want to hear what God has to say to us, or would we prefer to follow our own paths. Do we reject sound doctrine for feel-good psychology?

Further, even though we may not be ordained bishops or priests, as Christians we are called to evangelize, to speak and to live God's word whether it is convenient or inconvenient. We all have to make choices every day and decide whether we will follow the world's lies or God's truth. We, too, need to be persistent in receiving truth, goodness, and beauty with open hearts and then spreading that truth, goodness, and beauty everywhere we go.