Thursday, December 28, 2017

Esther's Prayer: Remembrance

As the end of another year approaches, we ought to step back and take some time for remembrance. 

Esther did this in her prayer when she spoke to God about the wonders He had accomplished for her people in the past. She'd heard the tales since she was born about how God had separated the Israelites from their neighbors and made them His own special people, bound to Him by covenant. But she also recalled how God's people sinned against Him, giving themselves to other “gods,” and how God justly punished them by handing them over to their enemies.

Esther remembers the good and the bad, the joys and the sorrows, the blessings and the sins. It's all part of her past, and it all contributes to her future as she places her trust in the faithful God Who has carried her people through everything. 

God has carried us through everything, too, over this past year...and always. Now let us recall what God has done for us and how we have responded to Him by reflecting on the following questions.

* Where has God been active in my life this year?
* What miracles have I witnessed?
* In what ways has God corrected or disciplined me?
* How have I responded to God's work?
* How has my relationship with God changed over the past year?
* How has my relationship with other people changed?
* Where have I succeeded in Christian living?
* Where have I failed in Christian living?
* What have I learned about God and myself this year?

Lord, may we remember the past that we may see Your love for us more clearly. Give us the grace to know ourselves better that we may grow ever closer to You in the coming year. Amen.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Esther's Prayer: Preparation

Esther had received a nearly impossible mission, at least in her eyes. Her people, the Jews, were in grave danger; the king had already signed the order for their extermination. Esther wasn't sure what she could do to change that, if anything, but at the request of Mordecai, her foster father, she resolved to try. She would push the boundaries of her queenship to their very edges and approach the king uninvited even if it meant her death.

But even after she had made her decision, Esther did not act immediately. Instead, she took some time to prepare. Esther, “seized with deadly anxiety, fled to the Lord.” She dissolved into penance, removing her royal robes and donning mourning garments, covering her tangled hair with ashes and dung, refusing to touch food or drink, and praying long and hard for God's favor.

Esther called on God for help, realizing that she was all alone. She remembered the Lord's past aid and prayed for a new deliverance for her people. She acknowledged their sinfulness and her own abhorred position in the king's household, and she declared her total dependence on God. 

The queen's preparation paid off. She refused to jump into anything without first humbling herself before God and speaking to Him intimately in prayer. Only then, when she had completely placed herself and her mission in God's hands, did she dare to approach the king, dressed in her highest finery but also with the confidence that she had done everything she could to prepare for her dangerous, and ultimately successful, task.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

St. Andrew

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Andrew the apostle, and that's very good thing since poor St. Andrew often gets overlooked. 

Andrew, St. John's Gospel tells us, was a disciple of John the Baptist and met Jesus through him. Then he introduced his younger brother Simon to this wonderful Rabbi, Whom John had identified as the Lamb of God and Whom Andrew believed was the Messiah they had so long awaited. 

Simon and Andrew both left their nets by the shore and followed Jesus when He called them to become fishers of men. Imagine that; Andrew put aside his whole life, his whole livelihood, and set out on a new adventure. He took a risk; he jumped into the unknown. He trusted Jesus even though he could see nothing of the future. 

Later, when the hungry crowds gathered and Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat,” Andrew spoke up. “There is boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish,” he told Jesus, but he couldn't help adding, “But what are they among so many people?” It's a very practical question really. Andrew couldn't see how such a little bit could help, but he was at least willing to go to Jesus with that little bit and place it in His hands. Then, of course, he witnessed a miracle.

A while later, some Greeks approached Philip wanting to meet Jesus. Philip went to Andrew with the request, and they both told Jesus, Who proceeded to teach them how they could keep their lives only by losing them. Did Andrew understand what He meant? Perhaps not right then, but he soon would.

We hear nothing else specifically about Andrew in the Gospels. He was not with Peter, James, and John during the Transfiguration or in the garden, but he certainly was a witness to Jesus' teachings and miracles, and he would have been present at the first Eucharist and at Jesus' post-Resurrection visit in the Upper Room. However, Andrew tends to fade into the background, and we tend to forget about him. 

Tradition tells us that after the Resurrection Andrew traveled through Greece and Turkey and around the Black Sea, preaching the Gospel as he went, and that he was martyred on an X-shaped cross at Patras in Greece. His relics remain there today.

Did Andrew perhaps get a little annoyed when Jesus called his younger brother Peter to be one of His inner circle? Did he feel left out and envious when he wasn't invited to go up the mountain of the Transfiguration or when he had to stay behind in the garden when Peter, James, and John went on with Jesus? Perhaps. But Andrew soon learned that he had his own role to play in spreading the Gospel message. It wasn't the same as Peter's position, or that of the other apostles, but it was important just the same, and he embraced it. In fact, he died for it.

There's a lesson for us here. We, too, may sometimes feel left out and envious as we watch others do important work for Jesus. We may wish we could do the same. But like Andrew, we each have a role that Jesus has designed especially for us. Through prayer, we must identify and embrace that position, that job, whatever it is, and then throw ourselves into it wholeheartedly, just like Andrew did. Even when we feel overlooked and under-appreciated, we must always remember, as Andrew learned, that Jesus has chosen each of us, loves us more than we can know, and sets us on just the right path that will guide us to eternal life with Him.

For more about St. Andrew, visit

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Esther's Prayer: Fear

“And save me from my fear!” 

Esther had good reasons to be afraid. Even though she was King Ahasuerus' queen, she was in grave danger. Not realizing that his queen was actually Jewish, the king had agreed to Haman's plan to exterminate the Jews. Now Esther's foster father, Mordecai, has given her a task only she can perform. She is to go before the king and plead for her people. 

But there's a catch. No one can come into the king's presence without having first been summoned. To do so is to risk death unless the king extends his royal scepter to the visitor. Esther has no way of knowing if the king will welcome her, but she agrees to try, even if it means losing her life.

Even so, she's still terrified, and at the end of her long prayer, she exclaims, “And save me from my fear!” She turns her fear over to God and asks Him to deliver her from it. The Greek word here is rūsai, which carries overtones of healing, freedom, protection, and rescue. Esther recognizes that her fear is as much of an enemy as those trying to kill her people (she uses the same verb when she asks for deliverance from them!), but she also understands that she can't overcome it on her own. Only God can save her from her fear.

The same is true for us. Like Esther, we fear many things, and sometimes we let our fears overcome us so they begin to control our minds and hearts. But no good can come of this. This kind of crippling fear will hold us back and perhaps even harm us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

So we must follow Esther's lead and cry out to God for help. Every time our fears threaten to overwhelm us, we should pray, “And save me from my fear!” We should give over our fears to God and put our trust in Him, knowing that He will deliver us if we let him. And then we let go and we carry on, for God will take care of us in His great love.

Lord, save me from my fear.

(Greek definitions come from Perseus-Tufts.)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Opportunities for Intercession

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone... (1 Timothy 2:1)

It's easy to get caught up in our lives and needs and forget to pray for others, but God calls us to intercede for everyone, to lift them up to Him and to ask that His will be done in their lives. This doesn't have to take a long time. We don't have to recite elaborate prayers or list dozens of requests. All we need to do is lovingly present those around us to God, and this is something we can easily incorporate into our daily lives. 

Here are a few opportunities for intercession:

1. Pick out the saddest looking person in the room, and ask God to wrap him or her in joy.

2. Pray for the check-out clerk at the store.

3. Pray for other drivers, especially when they aren't driving very well.

4. When you read or listen to a news story, pray for the people involved.

5. Smile at the person next to you in line, and say a quick prayer for him or her.

6. Read the obituary section of the newspaper, and pray for the deceased and their families.

7. Say a prayer for the person who makes you upset or angry.

8. Pray for the person sitting next to you (or in front of you or behind you) at church.

9. Lift up a prayer for the parent whose child is screaming in a public place.

10. Pray for your co-workers, students, teachers, etc.

11. Lift up your priests and pastors to God.

12. Pray for the sick and for the souls in Purgatory.

The possibilities for intercessory prayer are endless if only you look for them, recognize them, and take advantage of them. The people around us need prayer. All of us need prayer. That's why St. Paul urges “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone.”

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Litany of Gratitude

“...give thanks in all circumstances...” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
God the Father, have mercy on us.
God the Son, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
For the gift of life, we thank You, Lord.
For the gift of salvation, we thank You, Lord.
For Your great mercy and forgiveness, we thank You, Lord.
For every grace, we thank You, Lord.
For the supernatural life in our souls, we thank You, Lord.
For Your divine indwelling, we thank You, Lord.
For eternal life with You, we thank You, Lord.
For all virtues, we thank You, Lord.
For our Baptism, we thank You, Lord.
For our Confirmation, we thank You, Lord.
For the Holy Eucharist, we thank You, Lord.
For the sacrament of Confession, we thank You, Lord.
For every sacrament, we thank You, Lord.
For all our prayers, we thank You, Lord.
For Sacred Scripture, we thank You, Lord.
For Sacred Tradition, we thank You, Lord.
For the Magisterium, we thank You, Lord.
For the Holy Church, we thank You, Lord.
For Mary, our Mother, we thank You, Lord.
For all the saints and angels, we thank You, Lord.
For our Holy Father, the Pope, we thank You, Lord.
For our bishops, priests, and deacons, we thank You, Lord.
For our family and friends, we thank You, Lord.
For our talents and skills, we thank You, Lord.
For our joys and delights, we thank You, Lord.
For every blessing, we thank You, Lord.
For our trials and sorrows, we thank You, Lord.
For the challenges we face, we thank You, Lord.
For the opportunities to grow, we thank You, Lord.
For everything we learn, we thank You, Lord.
For all the beauty around us, we thank You, Lord.
For everything You do for us and give us, we thank You, Lord.
For Your infinite love, we thank You, Lord.

Let us pray.

Dear Lord, increase our gratitude. Give us hearts of thankfulness and praise. Fill us with Your love that we may pass it on to all those we meet. Amen.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Devouring God's Words

When I found Your words, I devoured them; Your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart, because I bear Your name, Lord, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)

Jeremiah had discovered something remarkable, something precious, something fascinating, something that excited him to no end: God's words. Sacred Scripture. God's voice speaking through a written text. The inspired and inerrant Word of God. God's love-letter to His children. The story of God's careful guidance of His people. The testimony of God's continual mercy for human beings who sinned over and over again.

Jeremiah recognized God's words for what they were, and he devoured them. He eagerly took them into his mind and heart. He made them part of his very being. And those words became his joy, the happiness of his heart. He learned that he was God's child, that he was part of a covenant family, that he belonged to God and was beloved by God. 

Jeremiah, of course, had only the parts of the Old Testament that had been composed by his time, and he had to read them from handwritten scrolls. He wouldn't have had his own copy either. He would have read the scrolls at the Temple. In fact, during Jeremiah's time, a scroll containing Deuteronomy was discovered during repairs to the Temple.* This text had probably been lost for many years, and it caused quite a stir when it was reintroduced. No wonder Jeremiah was so excited. God was speaking to His people anew. 

Our situation is quite different. We have much greater access to God's words than Jeremiah ever did. We can read God's words whenever we want, wherever we want. We keep paper copies of the Bible in our homes and e-books on our phones and tablets. Multiple translations are available online. What's more, we have the rest of the story. We have the entirety of God's revelation in the Old Testament and the New Testament. But do we appreciate God's words as much as Jeremiah did? Do we devour them? Do we recognize them for what they are? Do we read them and study them and meditate on them and pray them? Do we make them part of our very being? Do we greet them with joy and happiness of heart? Do we accept them as God's loving gift to us?

Lord, may we find Your words and devour them as Jeremiah did. May You speak to our minds and hearts through Your Sacred Scripture. May we make the effort to listen to You in Your Word and to know You better and love You more and more. Amen.

* Hyatt, J. Philip. “Jeremiah.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Accessed 13 August 2017.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Casting Anxiety

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

God wants us to humble ourselves under His hand. Our human nature tends to rebel against this. We want to be in control, but let's face it, we're not. We are dependent upon God for everything: our lives, our talents, our treasures, even our very breath. If God stopped sustaining us for even a moment, we would just disappear. To be humble is to recognize this fact, to understand and accept our position in relationship to God. It is not to cut ourselves down but simply to acknowledge that God is God and we are not and that we belong totally to Him and are completely reliant upon Him. 

What's more, being under God's mighty hand definitely isn't a bad thing. God's hand is mighty, in the Greek krataios, strong, powerful. But God's hand is not mighty in such a way as to crush us but rather to protect us. We have an all-powerful Guardian, Who, if we humble ourselves and snuggle under His sheltering hand, will care for us in every way. 

God will do even more than that. He will exalt us, raise us up, when the time is right. He will raise us up out of our miseries. He will, one day, in due time, raise us up right out of this world and into Heaven where we will see Him face to face. 

But we must place ourselves humbly in His care first. God is a gentleman. He will never force Himself upon us. He offers us grace upon grace, but He requires us to respond freely to that grace day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute all the way to the very end of our lives on this earth. Then He will raise us up to Himself at just the right time. 

The second verse here is not really a separate sentence in the Greek. The word translated as the imperative “cast” is really an aorist participle “having cast” or in Greek epiripsantes. This word starts a clause that modifies “humble yourselves.” So casting your anxiety on God is part of being humble. When we think about that, it makes sense. Anxiety is merimna in Greek, and it literally means something divided. Anxiety and worry divides us, breaks us into pieces, fractures our minds and hearts and sometimes even our bodies. It tears us apart. It can also be a form of pride. When we let anxiety overtake us and break us down, we are really trying to take control over things we can't change (and fussing because we can't change them) rather than trusting in God and allowing Him to work things out for us in His caring way. When we let go of anxiety, we humble ourselves before God and recognize that His is indeed in charge and will do exactly what is best for us.

Why? Because He cares for us. The Greek verb here is melō. God is concerned for our welfare, concerned in a deeper way than we can even imagine. He takes a personal, loving interest in each one of us. He wants us to be in Heaven with Him forever, and He gives us all the grace we need to get there. We, in turn, must humble ourselves before Him, casting our anxiety on Him and accepting this grace that God may exalt us into His presence and into His arms for all eternity.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, Who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Our God is the God of consolation. He comforts us in all our afflictions. So says Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians. But what does that mean? Let's take a look at the original Greek for some clues. 

The two verses quoted here begin with a blessing, eulogētos in the Greek. We are praising God, acknowledging Him, showing our commitment to Him. Why? Because He is worthy of our praise and adoration simply because of Who He is in Himself. He is God, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, all-wise, all-everything. So we begin with praise.

Then we recognize what God does for us. He is the “Father of mercies and the God of all consolation.” The Greek word for “mercies” is oiktirmos, and it points to the deep love God has for us. He knows our miseries, and He is compassionate toward us because of them. He understands us perfectly, and He sympathizes with us in all our difficulties. Even more He empathizes with us, for He became one of us and stepped into the midst of our human suffering. 

Further, this “God of all consolation” actually “consoles us in all our affliction...” The Greek noun and verb used here are paraklēsis and parakaleō, and they are both characterized by intimacy. The consolation or comfort or encouragement that God gives us is personal, designed especially for us and emanating from the God Who is closer to us than we are to ourselves. God meets us in the midst of our suffering, wraps His arms around us, and comforts us in a way that is exactly suited to our situation. He loves us deeply for who we are, each and every one of us, and He treats us as the individuals we are, giving us precisely what we need, first and foremost, intimate contact with Him.

But Paul doesn't stop there. We have a task, too. Actually we have two tasks. First, we must accept God's consolation and respond to it. We must allow ourselves to be comforted, to open ourselves to God's love, and to trust Him to console and encourage us in the way He knows is best. Then, we must pass that consolation on. We must give to others what we have received from God. We must step into another's suffering and love that person in the midst of it. We must offer a personal comfort out of love that expresses true sympathy and even empathy for the situation of another. 

In other words, we who are God's children must imitate our Father, loving as He does and passing along the great gifts we receive from Him, especially the abundant consolation He provides in all our afflictions. 

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Two-Way Street of Love

In Path to Freedom: Christian Experiences and the Bible, Jean Corbon reminds us that “To love means to give oneself and to receive” (33). It's a two-way street. When we love, we desire the absolute best for the loved one and do all in our power to help him or her achieve that best, even if it means sacrificing ourselves. Jesus did this to the utmost extent on the cross when He suffered and died for all of us, His loved ones, that we may have the absolute best, eternal life. 

But there is another side to love. When we love, we must also be open to receiving love from others. Jesus shows us how to do this. He allowed a woman to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. He allowed Mary Magdalene to anoint him with costly perfume. He allowed Simon of Cyrene to take up His cross and help Him carry it. He allowed Veronica to wipe His face. He needed none of these gestures. But He accepted them. He allowed Himself to be loved.

We live in a culture that values independence (at least on the surface). People often believe that if they accept help from others, it will mean that they are weak and dependent, that they can't care for themselves or that there is something wrong with them. This, however, is a form of pride that turns away from love. Certainly there are times when offers of help are deceptive and self-serving, but there are also many times when those offers are extended out of love, out of a desire to give of oneself and help the loved one achieve the ultimate best. Then receiving that love becomes an act of beautiful, humble love in its own right.

Indeed, love is a two-way street, giving and receiving in imitation of our Lord.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Guide to Reflections

Two years have already gone by since I began reflecting on the weekday readings. Since these readings follow a two-year cycle, I've decided to direct readers back to the beginning of my reflections. The reflections for the 10th week in Ordinary Time begin on June 7, 2015. Please visit the blog post for that date to start over. There may be variations from time to time, but most of the reflections should follow fairly closely.

Sunday readings follow a three-year cycle. We are currently in Year A. If you care to read reflections for the Sunday readings, please visit the post from June 15, 2014, for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Year A. In September, you will have to jump back to 2011 to pick up Year A at the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. From there, you can follow the remainder of Year A and lead into Year B and Year C. 

Please watch this blog for new posts on various topics and perhaps for a new series coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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

Thursday – Decided in Heaven

As our story continues, we see Raphael guiding Tobit's son, Tobiah, on a journey. Along the way, they stop at Sarah's home. Since Sarah's father, Raguel, and Tobit are kinsman, Tobiah and his companion receive a warm welcome.

Even more importantly, when Tobiah sees Sarah, something clicks. It's love at first sight, and Tobiah immediately asks Raguel for Sarah's hand in marriage. To his credit, Raguel tells Tobiah what has happened seven times before, but Tobiah is adamant. He will marry Sarah.

Raguel then recognizes God's hand at work. “She is yours according to the decree of the Book of Moses,” he tells Tobiah. “Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven!”

Indeed it has. When Tobiah and Sarah retire to the wedding chamber for the night, the first thing they do is drop to their knees and pray for God's protection, mercy, and blessing. They receive all three, for Tobiah and his wife both wake up the next morning.

Friday – Amazement and Joy

Today's installment of the story of Tobit is filled with amazement and joy. First, Tobiah arrives home. His parents aren't really expecting to ever see him again, so they are both relieved and overjoyed to embrace their beloved child.

But something even more amazing is in store for Tobit and Anna. According to Raphael's instructions, Tobiah smears fish gall on Tobit's eyes and peels away the cataracts that have been blinding his father. And Tobit can see. The first thing he does is pray. “Blessed be God, and praised be His great name,” Tobit exclaims, “and blessed be all His holy angels. May His holy name be praised throughout all the ages, because it was He Who scourged me, and it is He Who has had mercy on me. Behold, I now see my son Tobiah!”

The joy doesn't even stop there. Tobiah can't keep his own news to himself any longer, and he tells his parents about his marriage to Sarah. Tobit and Anna are once again amazed and overjoyed, and they welcome their new daughter-in-law with open arms and blessings.

Joy has returned to the house of Tobit.

Saturday – One More Surprise

It seems as though things couldn't get any better for Tobit and his family, but God has one more surprise in store for them. Tobiah's traveling companion has an announcement.

After giving Tobit and Tobiah some excellent advice about almsgiving and prayer, Raphael, whom they have known only as the man Azariah, drops his bombshell.

“I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord.”

Then he tells Tobit and Tobiah to pick themselves up off the ground. God has heard all of their prayers, Raphael explains, and He sent his angel as His instrument to carry out His will for Tobit, Anna, Tobiah, and Sarah.

The story ends, as it should, with Tobit praising God.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

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

Monday – Not Afraid

This week we follow the story of Tobit and his son Tobiah, Jews living in exile in Nineveh. Tobit is determined to obey God's law no matter what the cost. He has already been threatened with execution once for burying a dead man, but that wasn't going to stop him from doing it again.

When we first meet Tobit, he is about to sit down to a fancy meal, but he decides that he's missing something. Other people are hungry, and at least one of them should be able to share this fine supper. So Tobit sends Tobiah to find a God fearing person to eat with them.

Tobiah hardly gets out the door before he is met with a horrifying sight. One of their fellow Jews has been strangled in the street and his body left to the dogs and birds. Tobit springs to his feet when his son rushes back to get him. He dashes out, grabs the body, hides it in an empty room, and buries it after dark. Only then does he finally eat his supper, and then he does so in mourning rather than joy. The life of an exile, he reflects, is full of sorrow.

But Tobit is not afraid. Even when his neighbors mock him and remind him of the danger he is courting, he is determined to do the right thing. He knows that there is really nothing to fear when he is obeying God, and he trusts that God will care for him no matter what.

Tuesday – Not Perfect

Yesterday we met the righteous Tobit who is determined to follow God's commandments even in the midst of exile. Today, however, we see another side of Tobit. He is, we discover, just like everyone else: human and therefore definitely not perfect.

First, Tobit makes a rather foolish decision that has some serious consequences. He falls asleep leaning up against a wall in his courtyard, a move which results in eyes filled with bird-dropping-related cataracts. This freak accident leads to four years of blindness for Tobit.

His wife, Anna, goes to work weaving cloth to make enough money to support the family, and she does such a good job that her employer gives her a young goat as a bonus. Tobit hears the goat and jumps to the worst possible conclusion, accusing his wife of stealing the animal. Anna protests her innocence, but Tobit refuses to believe her.

Anna becomes angry and, with some justification, asks her husband, “Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself!”

Tobit may be a pretty good guy for the most part, but just like the rest of us, he is far from perfect.

Wednesday – Two Prayers

To his credit, Tobit immediately regrets his harsh words toward his wife. He bursts into tears and raises his prayer to God, repenting his sins and begging for death. He cries out to God, trust Him and placing himself in God's hands yet also asking God to take him away from his life of misery.

Meanwhile, many miles away, a young woman walks along the edge of despair. Sarah has had seven weddings, but every time a demon has killed her new husband on their wedding night. Now a maid has accused her of strangling those men. Sarah climbs up to the highest point of her house, intending to hang herself and escape her misery, but at the last moment, she has second thoughts. She doesn't want to cause her father grief, and deep down, she knows that killing herself is wrong. So she prays, intending to ask God to grant her a natural death.

Instead, though, Sarah opens her mouth and proclaims, “Blessed are You, O Lord, merciful God, and blessed is Your holy and honorable name. Blessed are You in all Your works for ever!”

God hears the prayers of both Tobit and Sarah. He hears, and He answers. The angel Raphael sets off to begin his healing mission.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reflection for the 7th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – A Smart Move

Paul is in a tight spot in today's first reading. He is standing before the full Jewish Sanhedrin to answer to the charges the Jews are bringing against him, charges that really have no answer, for they are false. The Jews are determined to get rid of Paul one way or another.

So Paul makes a smart move in his own defense. He drives a wedge through his opponents. The Sadducees and the Pharisees don't agree on much, and Paul uses that to his advantage. He makes his case into a question of resurrection, a doctrine the Pharisees accept but the Sadducees deny.

The result is a “great uproar,” and all of a sudden, the Pharisees are firmly on Paul's side. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they announce, "Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

Paul's trials are far from over, but he has won this round. Smart move, Paul.

Friday – Follow Me

“Follow Me.”
Lord, may I follow You in good times and bad.
Lord, may I follow You in joy and sorrow.
Lord, may I follow You in health and sickness.
Lord, may I follow You along the way of the cross.
Lord, may I follow You in Your Word.
Lord, may I follow You in Your Church.
Lord, may I follow You through Your sacraments.
Lord, may I follow You in Your moral law.
Lord, may I follow You all the way to Heaven.

Saturday – Many Other Things

In today's Gospel, St. John tells us that he has been selective about what he has included in his Gospel. “There are also many other things that Jesus did,” he explains, “but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

Isn't that a remarkable thought? Just reflect on that for a while. The Gospels contain more than we can understand in a lifetime, yet there is so much more. What riches! What beauty! What a treasury of truth! What wonderful things we have to look forward to in eternity when we can ask Jesus exactly what John had to leave out of his Gospel!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Reflection for the 7th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – I Have Conquered the World

Jesus says something truly wonderful in today's Gospel: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

Yes, we do have trouble in the world. The Greek word for trouble here is thlipsis. It literally means pressure, something that constricts and confines from the inside. We who live in the world know this kind of pressure. We are hemmed in on all sides by those who deny God and His plan and His moral law. They try to force us to let go of the truth and accept their warped views, and when we refuse, they persecute us in one way or another.

But, as Jesus assures us, that's not the end of the story. We should take courage. The Greek verb here is significant. It's tharseō, and it means to be bold, to radiate confidence from the inside out. We know the truth, so we don't let others intimidate us. We stand up courageously for what we believe, even in the face of trouble.

Why? Because we're on the side of the Conqueror. Jesus has conquered the world. The Greek verb is nikaō, to be victorious, to overcome, to subdue. Jesus is infinitely more powerful than anything in the world that might threaten us, so we can derive our confidence from Him as well as the power to express that confidence even in the most difficult situations.

Indeed, we should be at peace. We may have trouble in this world, but we can also have great confidence because Jesus has conquered the world. Amen!

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from

Tuesday – A Farewell Speech

Paul knows what's coming, or at least he has a pretty good idea about it. The Holy Spirit has already warned him of hardships and suffering to come, and now He is sending him to Jerusalem to complete the process.

All that's left to do in Ephesus is say farewell, and Paul does so beautifully. He comforts his fellow Christians, telling them that the trials to come do not bother him in the least if they are God's will. He has only one goal. “I consider life of no importance to me,” he assures them, “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.”

Then Paul passes on a warning of his own. He has done his very best for them, and now they are responsible for their own faith. They know the truth. Now they must live it, day in, day out.

Paul tells them that they will meet no more in this world, but everyone present would certainly be thinking ahead to a joyful reunion in Heaven when the trials of this world have passed and the faith they live comes to fruition in eternity.

Wednesday – The Visitation

Mary didn't have to go visit Elizabeth. Gabriel never told her to do so. He merely informed her of her kinswoman's pregnancy. Mary took the initiative for herself. She recognized a need, and she hurried to respond to it. She realized that Elizabeth could use her help, and she went out of her way to provide it.

Do we do the same? Do we recognize the needs of those around us and hurry to respond, even when we aren't directly ordered to do so? Do we imitate Mary's generous love and care?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Reflection for the 6th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Transferring Ascension

Today, in most countries throughout the world and even in some U.S. dioceses, Catholics are celebrating the Solemnity of the Ascension. The bishops of many U.S. dioceses, however, have transferred the Solemnity to Sunday. They were concerned that too many Catholics were skipping Mass on this Holy Day of Obligation, so they wanted to make things easier.

I can see that, I suppose, but my question is this: “When did it ever hurt a Catholic to go to Mass one extra day during the week?”

Catholics make room in their busy schedules for all kinds of things: sporting events, concerts, parties, dinner dates, etc., etc. Why not one more Mass? What's so hard about that? What's so inconvenient?

These questions get to the very heart of people's priorities, which are often sorely mixed up. Mass is the most important event of the week. Really. At Mass we worship the living God. At Mass we receive the living God into our bodies, our hearts, and our souls in the Eucharist. At Mass we join the angels and saints as Heaven touches earth. What could be more important than that? What could take precedence over that? Why shouldn't we go to Mass one more day during the week once in a while? It wouldn't hurt anyone; in fact, it could make an eternal difference.

Friday – Sing Praise

“Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our King, sing praise.”

We praise You, God, for being Who You are, perfect in every way.
We praise You, God, for loving us infinitely.
We praise You, God, for saving us from our sins.
We praise You, God, for coming among us as a Man.
We praise You, God, for dying on the cross for us.
We praise You, God, for rising from the dead.
We praise You, God, for giving us Your Word in Scripture and Tradition.
We praise You, God, for giving us Yourself in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
We praise You, God, and we love You.

Saturday – The Rest of the Story

Apollos knew only part of the Christian message. What he had, he had right. He sincerely believed, and he wanted to guide others to faith, too. He was well versed in the Scriptures. He lived the moral law. He spoke boldly about Jesus.

But Apollos was missing something. He didn't know about the sacraments. The only baptism he recognized was that of John, which had been only preparation for the baptism that Jesus initiated. Presumably, he didn't have a clue about the other sacraments either.

When Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos preaching in the synagogue, they realized that he was genuinely devout in the Christian faith, but they were also quick to take him aside and tell him the rest of the story.

Apollos was thrilled to discover what he had been missing. He accepted the fullness of the faith immediately and adjusted his preaching accordingly. In fact, he became a powerful force for spreading Christianity.

We Catholics are like Priscilla and Aquila. We know the full story. We have the fullness of the Christian faith. Our task is to share it with those like Apollos who know only part. What they have may be good, but they need the rest of the story.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reflection for the 6th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – Persecution

Jesus gives us fair warning. Our lives as Christians will not be easy. We will experience persecution from people who don't know Jesus and the Father. They will hate us for speaking the truth because their beliefs are false and they don't want to let go of them. They will hate us for following God's moral law because their consciences accuse them and they don't want to listen. They will hate us for loving others because their lives are filled with hate and apathy and they don't want to change.

Jesus also warns us that we will sometimes be thrown out of places just for being a Christian. As the early Jewish Christians were ejected from their synagogues on account of their faith in Jesus, we, too, risk losing our social standing by publicly following Christ. Friends may reject us. We may miss out on job or community opportunities. People may refuse to speak to us or acknowledge us.

Jesus even takes His warning one step further. Christians may sometimes face death for their faith. We may think this could never apply to us in the modern Western world. But are we so sure? Listen to what Jesus says: “...the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” Are there groups in this world that would think exactly that? Are they willing to kill people who don't believe the way they do?

Yes, we Christians are and will be persecuted, but so was Jesus. He suffered and died for us, and we can join our suffering and even death to His so that not one little bit of either will ever be wasted. We must cling to our Lord and open ourselves to the grace He freely pours out that we may withstand any and every persecution and hold fast to the truth of our faith.

May it be so. Amen.

Tuesday – The Terrified Jailer

Don't you feel a bit sorry for the jailer in today's first reading? The poor man is terrified and with good reason! First he's awakened by a major earthquake, which is scary enough. Then he notices that the prison doors are open and all the chains pulled lose. Naturally, he believes that the prisoners, including Paul and Silas, have all escaped.

In his extreme fear, the jailer does the only thing he can think of: he pulls out his sword and prepares to kill himself. He knows that if the Romans find the prison empty, he will be punished (i.e., tortured) for it, and he decides that death would be better.

When Paul sees what the jailer is about to do, he cries out with reassurance. “Do not harm yourself,” he shouts, “we are all here.”

That probably scares the jailer more than anything else that has happened. The prisoners didn't escape? Why not? Who are these people who first pray and sing in prison and then don't make a run for freedom when they have the chance? What's going on? Something major. Something important. Something life saving.

The terrified jailer throws himself on the ground before Paul and Silas and asks, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” We can't be exactly sure what he means. He might simply be wondering how to get out of his current mess, but he has also seen enough wonders to realize that the situation calls for a deeper question.

Paul and Silas answer the deeper question and proclaim the Gospel to the jailer, who accepts it immediately with faith and is baptized along with his whole household.

The terrified jailer has become the joyful Christian jailer.

Wednesday – Responses

When Paul preaches the message of the one true God to the philosophically minded Athenians, he receives three different responses.

Some people merely scoff at Paul, especially when they hear about the resurrection. They are not willing to accept an idea that fails to fit into their own system of beliefs, so they ridicule it.

Others hesitate, unwilling to commit for the time being but leaving the door open just a crack. “We should like to hear you on this some other time,” they tell Paul. Of course, they don't specify when that other time might be, and perhaps they are hoping that it never arrives.

Still others, though, believe. They recognize the truth when they hear it, and they accept it. They are willing to let go of their old ways of thinking and conform to the new reality set before them.

If you had been an Athenian listening to Paul, how would you have responded?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reflection for the 5th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Joy

“I have told you this so that My joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

Jesus wants us to be joyful. But this isn't the kind of joy that rides on the surface of our lives and disappears with changes in circumstances or emotions. This is a deep-down joy (in Greek charā) that comes when we recognize God's grace and love working in our lives. This joy is a response to God's perfect plan for us and to His tender care. This joy reaches back to the God Who reaches out to us.

We don't generate this joy on our own. Like everything else, joy is a gift from God that we must embrace and cultivate.

Dear Jesus, may Your joy be in us that our joy may be complete in You. Amen.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from

Friday – The Decision

The decision had to be made, so the apostles gathered in Jerusalem to make it. They had witnessed and heard about what God was doing among the Gentiles. He was no longer making a distinction between Jew and Gentile; He was pouring out the grace of salvation upon them all.

But there was still the Law to consider. Would the Gentiles have to follow every precept of the Jewish Law? Or was that no longer necessary under the New Covenant? Was the Law, or at least aspects of it like dietary codes, merely for a certain time, place, and people?

Guided by the Holy Spirit, the apostles made the decision. The Gentiles were still bound by God's moral law, of course, but not by practices of the Jewish people. These, they determined, had served their purposes of teaching, guiding, and correcting the Jews and of preparing for the coming of the Messiah. They were no longer necessary under the New Covenant.

The apostles sent this message to the Gentile Christians:

“It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.”

The decision was made. God had spoken to the apostles' hearts and minds. A new era had arrived.

Saturday – You Do Not Belong to the World

You do not belong to the world. You belong to God. He has chosen you and called you out of the world to be His own.

So the world will hate you. It will oppose you. It will threaten you. It will persecute you.

And that's really as it should be. You are not greater than your Master. The world opposed, hated, and persecuted Him, too, and it will do the same to you.

But the world doesn't matter. You have Him. You belong to Him. And He is infinitely greater than the world and anything it could ever offer.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Reflection for the 5th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – A Mix Up

Paul and Barnabas were horrified. Absolutely horrified. Sure, they had healed a crippled man but certainly not by their own power. Never by their own power. They were only instruments. They healed in the name of Jesus Christ.

They were definitely not Hermes and Zeus no matter how the people cried out and tried to sacrifice to them.

Appalled as they were, though, Paul and Barnabas understood the people's mistake. These were Gentiles, after all. They knew nothing about the one true God or Jesus Christ. All they had ever known was the strange pantheon of Greek and Roman “gods.” They couldn't be expected to respond any differently to a miracle in their midst.

Paul and Barnabas did their best to restrain the crowds, protesting over and over that they were mere human beings and vehemently proclaiming the truth of the living God. Still, though, the crowds stubbornly resisted. Old habits and old beliefs die hard.

Tuesday – Peace

Peace. Eirēnē. Wholeness. Completeness. All parts joined in harmony.

This is what Jesus leaves us. This is what Jesus gives us. He does not give the same kind of peace that the world gives (or usually does not give). This peace comes directly from Him.

This is the kind of peace that allows us to be still in the midst of troubles, to avoid agitation and upset. This is the kind of peace that prevents us from living in fear of what might happen to us. This is the kind of peace that allows us to place ourselves wholly in the arms of our Lord and stay there.

But do we accept this peace? Or do we cling to our troubles and fears? Do we allow ourselves to be tugged this way and that and split apart?

Lord, You give us Your peace. May we accept that peace and bask in it always. Amen.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from 

Wednesday – The Vine and the Branches

Jesus, You are the vine. You provide all the nourishment we need to grow and flourish and bear fruit.

Jesus, without You, we branches can do nothing. We produce no fruit. We wither and die.

Jesus, our Father is the vine grower. He prunes us that we may be more fruitful, that we can better accept and use the nourishment that You, our vine, provide.

Jesus, may we branches always remain in You, our vine. Never let us break off. Keep us fresh and supple. Send Your grace coursing through us that we may bear the fruit of love. May we accept the pruning of our Father for our own good that we may love and glorify Him ever more and more. You, Jesus, are the vine, and we are the branches. Amen.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Reflection for the 4th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Understand and Do

Jesus has just washed the disciples' feet. He has explained to them that He has provided them with a model of service that they are to practice in imitation of Him. “If you understand this,” He concludes, “blessed are you if you do it.”

There are two parts to Jesus' statement: understand and do. The first part is described by the Greek verb oida, and it means to perceive, to discern, to discover, to experience, and to know. People who understand something have taken it in and made it part of themselves.

But this isn't the end. Understanding, the internal part, must lead to something external, to doing. The Greek verb here is poieō. It is an action word that means to make or to do or to cause.

So knowledge must translate into action. The disciples must first understand what it means for Jesus to be their servant and wash their feet, but they can't stop there. They must then do the same and become servants to others, fully grasping the significance of their acts.

Understand and do.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from

Friday – Many Dwelling Places

What a beautiful image Jesus gives us in today's Gospel: “In My Father's house there are many dwelling places.”

Just meditate on this for a while. God has a perfect place for each of us in His house, a place exactly suited to us, a place where we can be completely fulfilled, a place where we can know Him intimately.

It's waiting for us. He's waiting for us. May we persevere in His grace and love and make it home to Him and to the perfect place He has prepared. Amen.

Saturday – Delighted

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard the words of Paul and Barnabas. Salvation had come to them! They could finally know God! They rejoiced. They celebrated. They praised God! This was something truly amazing.

How do we respond when we hear the message of salvation? Are we joyful? Are we delighted to go to Mass each week to hear God's word and receive Jesus in the Eucharist? Do we praise God for His amazing gifts? Do we take the opportunity to get to know Him better and better? Are we like the Gentiles who heard Paul and Barnabas with joy?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Reflection for the 4th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – A Message from God

The message couldn't be any clearer. “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.” And just in case Peter didn't understand, God showed him in vivid color. Three times Peter watched and listened as all the animals and birds of the earth were presented to him for food. It was a shock for a devout Jew like Peter who had followed the dietary laws of his people to the letter his whole life. But God was doing something new. The old restrictions about clean and unclean foods had to go because they no longer applied to the new covenant.

Even more importantly, Peter soon discovered that the old restrictions about clean and unclean people had also outlived their purpose. According to the Jews, the Gentiles were just about as unclean as anyone got. They didn't keep the Law. They didn't follow the customs. They didn't even worship God. But now God was reaching out to these unclean people in wholly new ways, and Peter was to do so, too.

The Holy Spirit told Peter in no uncertain terms to enter the house of the Gentile Cornelius. Peter obeyed, and when he saw the Spirit descending upon Cornelius and his household, he realized the depths of God's message. God had extended repentance, grace, and eternal life to the Gentiles. He was giving them the chance to become part of His people. Peter baptized the whole lot on the spot. Who was he to deny such a clear message from God? Who was he to hinder God's own work?

Tuesday – Christians

Christians. The designation is so familiar, so commonplace, that we take it for granted. We don't stop to think about what the word really means or to consider what a mark of honor it is to those who bear it as a title.

The word Christian derives from the Greek word christos, the title of Jesus Himself, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Christos in turn derives from the verb chriō, to anoint. Anointing literally involved pouring or rubbing olive oil on someone, but symbolically anointing consecrated a person for a special task, usually that of priest, prophet, and/or king. An anointed person was set aside and authorized for service. Life was no longer the same for the anointed person. He was no longer his own; he lived for others.

Christians, then, are anointed ones, consecrated for a special task, priests offering their sacrifices of prayers and of their very selves to God, prophets spreading God's word, kings ruling themselves strictly under God's moral law. Christians are set aside for service to God and to their neighbors. They no longer belong to themselves; they belong to God. They live for Him and with Him and in Him. They bear the name and share the title of Jesus Christ, their Savior.

What pleasure and amazement the members of the early Church at Antioch must have experienced when they were first called Christians. They would have recognized the honor and the responsibility of the title. We modern Christians would do well to recover a bit of their insight and strive to live up to the name we bear.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from

Wednesday – Not to Condemn

Jesus did not become incarnate to condemn the world but to save the world. Most of us will nod at this statement and think, “Well, of course, that's obvious.” But do we really believe it in practice? Or do we still tend to think of Jesus as a harsh judge who watches our every move and waits to nail us for something we did wrong or didn't do well enough?

Yes, our Lord condemns sin, and He punishes us when we sin. But the punishment is this: He allows us to experience the consequences of our sins so that we can learn not to commit those sins again. He doesn't vindictively assign arbitrary penalties. Instead, He disciplines as a parent does so that we mature and grow.

We might wonder, then, how anyone could lose salvation if Jesus does not condemn people. Does anyone actually go to hell to face eternal punishment? We can't say anything about individuals, but saints and mystics tell us that people who go to hell choose to do so. They choose to reject God and remain in their sins until the very end. They choose not to repent. They turn their backs on God's love and mercy. They say no to the forgiveness God holds out. They say no to Heaven. God doesn't condemn them; they condemn themselves.

Today let us rejoice that Jesus does not condemn us, that His will is to save us, that He wants us to be with Him for all eternity, and that He gives us all the grace we need to get home to Heaven.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Reflection for the 3rd Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – A Strange Fellow

The Ethiopian eunuch we meet in today's first reading is really a strange fellow. He has a very high position in his queen's government (in charge of the entire treasury - wow), but he doesn't seem content with that. He's searching for something more, something to satisfy a deep longing within him, something that he can only find outside his own culture.

So he goes to Jerusalem to worship. This is very odd behavior for an Ethiopian court official. We would expect him to worship the gods of his own land. He doesn't even stop at worshiping in Jerusalem; he also studies the Jewish Scriptures. We discover him deep in the prophet Isaiah as he returns home from his worship. He is clearly looking for truth.

But he doesn't know how to find it. When Philip approaches the eunuch, the latter freely admits that he doesn't understanding what he's reading. “How can I,” he asks, “unless someone instructs me?” The eunuch doesn't realize it immediately, but he has just met his instructor. He's got questions, and Philip has answers.

Philip proceeds to explain the Isaiah passage to the eunuch, and then he keeps right on going, telling the seeker all about Jesus. The message touches the eunuch's mind, heart, and soul. Here at last is what he has been trying to find for so long. Here at last is the truth. The eunuch knows exactly what he must do. He asks Philip for baptism, and Philip immediately administers the sacrament and then promptly disappears.

The startled but thrilled eunuch continues his journey home, rejoicing in his new faith. This strange fellow has just become the first Christian in Ethiopia.

Friday – Get Up and Go

Get up and go. Jesus' command is clear. Paul must not remain lying on the ground in shock. He has a job to do, and he must get up and go into the city to prepare for it. He knows the truth now. He has encountered the risen Jesus directly. Now it's time to move along.

Get up and go. Again, Jesus' command is clear. Ananias must go to Paul and instruct him in the Christian faith. Ananias is shocked. After all, Paul has been persecuting Christians right and left. How could he have changed so quickly? But Jesus doesn't allow protests. Paul has a mission, and Ananias is the one who will help him prepare for it. Now it's time to move along.

Jesus tells both Paul and Ananias to get up and go. Is He saying the same to each of us?

Saturday – Many Left

Jesus doesn't stop His disciples from leaving. Pay close attention to that. They can't accept His difficult words about the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, but He doesn't call them back and tell them that He didn't really mean it, that He was just speaking symbolically, that they shouldn't take Him literally.

Quite the opposite, in fact. Jesus means everything He says. Literally. But He isn't going to force people to stay, and He isn't going to explain further just then. He is looking for faith and trust from His disciples. He wants them to accept a mystery.

So many leave. But some don't. They recognize, like Simon Peter, that Jesus has “words of eternal life.” They believe that He is the Holy One of God. So they trust Him, even when they don't understand, even when His words seem outrageous. They stay, and they humbly enter into the mystery that would one day soon enter into them when they celebrate the Eucharist and truly receive Jesus' Body and Blood into their bodies, hearts, and souls.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Reflection for the 3rd Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – Motives

The crowd was puzzled. They had eaten their fill of bread and fish the day before thanks to Jesus, but now He was nowhere to be seen. Jesus had not gotten into the boat with the disciples, and there was only one boat missing. It was really quite a mystery. Where could Jesus have gone?

They decided to go looking for Jesus, and when they finally found Him on the other side of the sea, they were more confused than ever. “Rabbi, when did You get here,” they asked.

But Jesus was on to them. He knew the motives deep in their hearts. They may have been looking for Him but not for the right reasons. They were curious certainly, but mostly they wanted more bread. They wanted to eat again, and they liked the miraculous nature of their meal. It was a novelty, something exciting, something interesting. “Amen, amen, I say to you,” Jesus proclaimed, “you are looking for Me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”

Jesus pushed the crowd to change their motives. Instead of seeking more physical food, they ought to work for food that never perishes, food that is eternal, food that comes from Jesus on a much deeper level than bread and fish.

So the question arises: What are our motives? Why do we seek Jesus? Are we looking for favors? Do we want Him to solve our worldly problems? Or are we looking for something deeper, something that will last for eternity?

Tuesday – Violent Denial

No. Absolutely not. They would not listen. They couldn't bear it. How could he say such things? What was it he was proclaiming with such confidence? “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

They didn't want to hear it. It couldn't be true. They had killed Jesus for blasphemy; there was no way He could be Whom Stephen claimed He was. They would not believe. They would cover their ears so they couldn't even listen.

No, they would not listen, and they would not let Stephen speak any more either. They rushed at him, yelling and screaming. Driving him out of the city, they picked up the largest stones they could find and started throwing them at Stephen.

Most of them were so crazed that they never heard Stephen speak his final words: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Perhaps they didn't even fully grasp that their violent denial had just taken a man's life.

Wednesday – The Kerygma

In today's first reading, St. Paul presents the kerygma, the most basic, most foundational teachings of the Christian faith.

1. Jesus died for us in order to take away our sins.

2. This happened in accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures, which prepared for and pointed to Jesus' coming, dying, and rising.

3. Jesus rose on the third day, truly alive.

4. Jesus appeared to His followers to prove His resurrection.

Here is the heart of Christianity. There is, of course, much more to know and believe, many more essential truths, but they are built upon this kerygma, and the kerygma is built upon God's great love, a love strong enough to die and rise again for us.