Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Lectio

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.               Matthew 6:7–15

Meditatio

“Forgive us our debts …”

Much of Matthew’s version of the Our Father and its surrounding context is devoted to forgiveness. After concluding the prayer, Jesus tells us that if we forgive we will be forgiven. A few verses earlier in this Gospel, he states that his Father makes the sun shine on the bad and good, the rain fall on the just and unjust—with no distinction. And he calls us to be merciful, as his Father is merciful.

Throughout the Gospels, we see God’s mercy active in the person of Jesus, who forgives sins, delivers people from their afflictions, and socializes with the marginalized. In recent times—thanks to Saint Faustina and Pope John Paul II—the Church has grown in its appreciation of the depth of God’s mercy. In fact, the Church sees mercy as the core of the Christian message.

Forgiveness can be heroic, as was Jesus’ forgiveness of everyone responsible for his death. Many of Christ’s followers have likewise forgiven great wrongs. Just one example from our own times is Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Rwandan woman who forgave the neighbors who had massacred her parents and siblings. You and I may not be called to such heroism, but the Lord may be inviting us to accept acquaintances and even relatives whose values seem contrary to our own and thus foreign to the Gospel. That’s often hard to do. But who knows what graces we may draw if we make a real effort to accept them as persons loved by God?

Then there are the wrongs done to us personally, such as slander, gossip, digs, slights.… These might actually seem easier to forgive, since we could take pride in our “virtue.” Perhaps real virtue is cultivated by putting up with the little grievances that are not sins, yet get on our nerves. A spouse, friend, colleague, or sibling may persist in an irritating habit that we’ve called to their attention. What if we were to focus on that person’s good qualities and forget about the irritation?

Oratio

Jesus, help me to recognize that we’re all children of your heavenly Father—one human family in need of mercy. Help me try to see where my companions are coming from and what they’re going through. May I forgive as you did, who ate and drank with sinners, and as your Father does, who showers sunshine and rain on all alike. Make me blind to irritating faults. Let me see something of your own goodness in each person I live with, work with, or meet.

Contemplatio

“… as we forgive our debtors.”

Monday of the First Week of Lent

Lectio

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”        Matthew 25:31–46

Meditatio

“Lord, when did we see you hungry … and not minister to your needs?”

Thoughts of the Last Judgment can be upsetting and downright frightening. We tend to concentrate too much on the idea of great destruction, whereas Jesus seeks to calm us with this simple description found in Matthew’s Gospel. It is Discipleship 101. It is also a sneak preview of the most important test we will ever take, the ultimate placement test. Whether we are accepted into God’s kingdom or banished from it eternally will depend on our answers to this test. We won’t be able to read over another’s shoulder or write hints on our hands. That is because we will have already written our answers prior to appearing before the Lord.

As we stand there in his presence he sees the answers written on our soul. Nevertheless, questions are still exchanged. We ask: “But when?” And Jesus will firmly reply: “When I was hungry, thirsty, sick, alone, in prison, and you came to me and cared for me. All that I expected of you as my disciple was this unconditional love for each person you met.”

Jesus will not question us about the myriad matters that fill our waking hours and sleepless nights. He will not ask if we were successful if we maintained our youthfulness or our enthusiasm for life. He will not even ask us if we prayed. He will not have to ask that because it will be evident by the God-likeness of our actions. And so, we listen attentively as he speaks to us each day: “You are to be one with me in heart and soul, to act as I act, to love as I love. Your love and energy need to be directed toward our Father in heaven, and this can be done best by sincerely caring about others, especially the stranger and the needy. Remember that when you do it for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it for me.”

Oratio

Jesus, give me a heart like your own. Help me always to recognize my daily opportunities to minister to you in the neediness of others. But even more, let me see the importance of every person on his or her own merit. Let me say to myself: I want to help this person, my brother or sister, without any thought of a reward or even a kind word from my Lord. I want to serve as you served, my Lord, for the ultimate good of each person. Strengthen and guide me today. Amen.

Contemplatio

Love me in those who share each day with you.

Sunday of the First Week of Lent

Lectio

At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”                Mark 1:12–15

Meditatio

“… and the angels ministered to him …”

Mark gives a very brief account of the temptation of Jesus. We do not get a list of temptations nor of Jesus’ responses. The little detail we are given is that angels came to minister to him.

In the verse preceding this passage, the Father says to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (v. 11). Jesus is the Son of God—Jesus is God. Does he really need help combating Satan? This verbal and spiritual battle is between God and Satan, yet the angels are present. We can assume that God the Father sent the angels, but why? It is not to fight Satan in Jesus’ place, but simply to be with him during this time in the desert.

God’s love for us is so great that we too have angels all around us—not just heavenly creatures, but people through whom God leads us into a closer relationship with him. Lent gives us the opportunity to reflect on the many ways God graces us each day, especially through the many people he sends to be our angels.

I am reminded of times of difficulties in my own life and the people who gathered around me. I received so much strength and comfort simply because I was accompanied. I could have easily dismissed their actions because they weren’t doing great acts. No, they sat with me, listened to me pour out my heart, and/or prayed for me. From their simple acts of love, God’s blessings and graces have reached me.

As countless others have ministered to us, we can ask God for the grace to be open to go to the people that he wishes to send us to as messengers of his love. Just as the angels were sent by God to minister to Jesus, God sends us to minister to Jesus in all we do for our brothers and sisters.

Oratio

Lord, each day your love touches me through the people I come into contact with. Help me today to see these angels of yours and to be grateful for the many ways that you reach out to tell me of your great love for me through them. Help me to grow in gratitude of heart as well as in the desire and ability to serve you by serving others. What ways are you asking me to be your hands, voice, and heart in my daily life? Give me the grace to be open to your invitations today and throughout this Lenten journey.

Contemplatio

“This is the time of fulfillment …”

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Lectio

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind,* he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”        Luke 5:27–32

Meditatio

 “Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them.”

Could I entertain Jesus in my house tonight? Who would I invite? Who would just show up? Would I have the nerve—or the courage—to call the usual crowd? Or would I try to reinvent myself for this occasion? How long would I try to sustain the act?

We sometimes say that God “takes us where we’re at.” Do I truly come to prayer “as I am”? Do I allow the Lord into the living room of my heart with all the inhabitants that have taken up residence there? If I’m honest with myself I have to admit that an odd assortment of people live in my memory.

There are, of course, the people whom I cherish and whose lives are intertwined with my own: family members and close friends. Near or far, living or deceased, these loved ones live in my thoughts and prayers. It is good. On the other hand, there are others, less welcome, who invade my imagination and memory. An unsightly assortment of ghosts and skeletons clutter my mental landscape and distract me from the conversation I wish to have with Jesus. Or do they? What would happen if I brought Jesus into the place where arguments, manipulation, and betrayals lurk and periodically replay themselves?

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.” To his credit, Levi invited Jesus to his house and introduced him to the people he typically sat down to dinner with. Other people murmured (of course), but Jesus came anyway and was perfectly at ease at Levi’s table.

Perhaps I need an honest heart-to-heart with God about the people that I live with in the “real world” as well as those who populate my “inner world.”

Oratio

Jesus, come into the house of my heart. Walk through the rooms of my mind: my memories, imagination, thoughts, and desires. Let us sit down together and chat for a while. I have so much to tell you—and so much I need to hear from you.

You and I both know the company I keep. Help me to leave behind relationships that are unhealthy. Help me to strengthen and heal those that need repair. You called Levi into the community of your disciples. Lord, introduce me to your friends, because in the end, I want always to be found in your company.

Contemplatio

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.”

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Lectio

Then the disciples of John approached him and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast [much], but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.      Matthew 9:14–15

Meditatio

“Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”

Today’s reference to the bridegroom is one of many uses of marriage imagery in the Gospels. Jesus refers to himself as the “bridegroom” and tells a parable about a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. In another passage, the familiar story of the wise and foolish virgins also centers on the arrival of the bridegroom. Those who were ready went in with him to celebrate the wedding feast. In John’s Gospel the Baptist declares: “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete” (Jn 3:29). A major wedding connection is also made in the Gospel of John with the marriage feast at Cana, when Jesus turned water into wine. In the Old Testament we find the Song of Songs and, in the prophets, the heart-rending love God has for his people who turned away from him adulterously to follow false idols.

Augustine also used this nuptial imagery, speaking of Jesus’ coming into the world in terms of marriage. For Augustine this imagery of bride and bridegroom is a symbol of Jesus’ spousal desire for us, his love that blindly gives itself over to union whatever the cost, the beginning of a love affair born in eternity, to be consummated on the marriage bed of the cross, and finally raised in glory to the right hand of the Father.

When disciples fast today, it is a fasting of faith because Jesus has ascended into heaven. More than the lack of food, it is the absence of the sight of the bridegroom. It is a continual search for him and a longing for his return. Fasting from food, from TV, from complaining, or whatever else we decide to fast from, is a discipline that helps us keep focused on why we are here: we are invited to a forever wedding feast, not simply as a guest, but as the bride.

Oratio

Jesus, when we could not come to you, you came to us to forge an unbreakable bond between us and God, a bond of love that will last for eternity. At the beginning of these days of penitence, I feel this bond strengthening. I feel that you care about me and my life. I feel that you want me to realize how close you are to me. Help me to let go of whatever habits have become obstacles to living in your presence.

Contemplatio

You have come into the world as to a marriage.

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Lectio

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?
Luke 9:22–25

Meditatio

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must …take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Today’s Gospel challenges us to true discipleship, to follow a Messiah who defies all our human expectations. In the verses immediately preceding today’s Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, “… who do you say that I am?” Peter replies, “The Messiah of God” (v. 20). In this context of Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus defines the kind of Messiah he is, challenging Peter (and each of us) to a deeper faith. Jesus reminds us that he did not choose to come into our world in glory and triumph. Instead, he chose to come into the world as a suffering Messiah who would be rejected, killed and raised on the third day.

Jesus calls his disciples to follow in his footsteps and to take up our cross daily.… That word “daily” stands out for me. Jesus is asking us for commitment—a resolute decision to carry our cross—not just through this season of Lent, or when big sufferings come our way, but every day. Yet how are we to do this?

For those of us seeking to live the Christian life, we won’t have to look far to find the cross. We are called to daily lay down our lives by letting go of our own preferences, desires, strong opinions. We make choices for the sake of Christ and his Gospel and not on the basis of our own immediate feelings or reactions. On any given day, this may mean many things. Perhaps it will mean setting aside my own need for recognition while seeking to encourage others in their gifts, or choosing not to act out of feelings of anger when a family member says something that hurts. In each circumstance, we are called to choose Christ and to place the good of others before our own. Yet the cross never has the last word! With every death to self, the cross leads to resurrection and new life in Christ.

Oratio

Jesus, I do not always understand your ways. Sometimes, your cross feels like folly to me. Why would you choose suffering and death over triumph and glory? Teach me the mystery of your ways, and how to choose the good of others before my own. This Lent, I renew my commitment to carry my cross daily. May this laying down of my life unite me with you and bring life to others, allowing me to share more deeply in your Easter joy. For if I die with you, I will also live with you.

Contemplatio

“For to me, ‘life’ is Christ …” (Phil 1:21).

Ash Wednesday

Come out to the desert,
that place of silence and patience.
Come listen to the voice of God.

Lectio

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18

Meditatio

“… [Do not] perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them
… your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

“What are you going to do for Lent?” As children each year we had to answer this question. We gave up cookies, candy, TV, video games …; the list was made up of our most precious pleasures. We struggled through the forty days of Lent, flexing our spiritual muscles as we raced toward the Easter Day finish line. As adults we’ve settled into a more sophisticated Lenten spirituality, but often we end up giving up the same things we did as kids, perhaps hoping to lose a little weight or gain a little time.

Today’s Gospel reading prods us to go deeper. It centers around theatrics. We all are mini-celebrities of our own lives, imagining a trail of adoring fans following us. We can even make Lent into a minor Hollywood production. We conceive the idea for our Lenten penance. We write the script. We are producer, director, actor, and audience all wrapped in one. And we end up at the Easter Day finish line as self-absorbed as we were on Ash Wednesday.

Perhaps these words of Jesus spoken to us today are asking us to go backstage, take the last seat, sit down, and wait for God to reveal to us the script he has written for us this Lent. Perhaps as adults we should be asking at the beginning of Lent: What is God going to do for me in these next forty days? What is it that I desire God to do for me in this long Lenten retreat?

Instead of theatrics, Jesus is inviting us to simple honesty. To smallness. To just being there and sensing his grace, quiet enough, still enough to feel the gentle tugs of the Spirit to newness, to giving up obstacles to the growth of a treasured relationship, to finding a few moments daily to read the Word of God, to surrender fear.… What God is going to do in your life will surprise you. Expect it.

Oratio

Jesus, I am not accustomed to telling you to do whatever you want in my life. In fact, it’s kind of scary to see what you would do if I let you write my life’s script. I think I am doing a pretty good job at my life on my own. But it seems you want something more of me now. Instead of Lent being my focus, you are placing me front and center in your focus. I am expecting you to show me what you want to give me at this stage of my life. I trust you.

Contemplatio

I expect you, God, to do something with me this Lent.

Daughters of Saint Paul, Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections

A Lenten Journey

Daily Virtue is going to take a break from our regular daily scripture readings and reflections to focus on Lent. The Daughters of Saint Paul, over the next six weeks, will provide a daily Gospel reading with reflections that are based on the beautiful ‘holy reading’ (Lectio Divina), which is a way of praying with Scripture. T, Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel ReflectionsMany methods of doing this have developed since the time of early monasticism.In this beautiful four-step process, the simple framework allows the Word of God to make room in our minds and hearts.

The first step, Lectio (“reading”), is to read the day’s Gospel passage from a missal or Bible. Read it a few times slowly, perhaps especially noticing the phrase or verse that is listed under the Meditatio section.

Next, the Meditatio (“meditation”) expands the meaning of this phrase and explores what it is saying to us today—what God is asking of us, or challenging us to, or offering to us. After reading the meditation, take as much time as you like to reflect on it.

The Oratio (“prayer”) can help you talk to God about what has arisen in your heart, so that the time of prayer becomes a conversation, not just a time to think. God has spoken in the Scripture. We hear the invitation in our meditation, but now a response is called for. Our response is not just to say, “Yes, I want to do as you are asking me,” but also to say, “Help me do it, Lord!”

The short line under Contemplatio (“contemplation”) is a way of extending this time of prayer into life. You can silently repeat it throughout the day to help deepen the intimacy with the Lord that you experienced in prayer.

May your Lent be grace-filled and abundantly blessed!

 

The Crown of Life

Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life
that he promised to those who love him.
No one experiencing temptation should say,
“I am being tempted by God”;
for God is not subject to temptation to evil,
and he himself tempts no one.
Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.
Then desire conceives and brings forth sin,
and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters:
all good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
(James 1:12-18)

Scripture Study

1:12 the crown of life: The Greek is appositional (“the crown which is life”). It refers to the eternal life that awaits the saints who have patiently and faithfully endured the trials of life (2 Tim 4:8; Rev 2:10). those who love him: A biblical description of those who keep God’s commandments (Deut 5:10; 7:9; Jn 14:15). James will later stress that salvation and life are for those who not only believe in the Lord, but who love and obey him through faithful deeds (Jas 2:14–26).

1:13 God is not subject to temptation: God tests us by putting us in situations that invite us to trust him (Gen 22:1). However, he never tempts us to turn away from him as Satan does (Mt 4:1). James is adamant that God is neither the author nor the promoter of evil, nor can he himself be tempted or overpowered by it. Sin is our own doing; it is conceived when we desire evil and is born when we act upon those desires (Jas 1:14–15) (CCC 2846–47).

1:17 the Father of lights: I.e., the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars (Gen 1:14–19). Unlike these heavenly luminaries, which are constantly changing in brightness and position due to eclipses, lunar cycles, and the alternation of days, God is eternally unchanged and is ever consistent in blessing those who love him (Jas 1:12) (CCC 212).

1:18 word of truth: The gospel of new life in Christ (Eph 1:13; 1 Pet 1:23–25). first fruits: James compares believers of the first generation (1:1) to the first sheaf of spring wheat that was cut from the field and offered to God in the Temple (Lev 23:9–11). This first portion was meant to thank the Lord for his gifts and to seek his blessing for an abundant harvest. Paul uses this image for Israelite believers (Rom 11:16).

Scripture Reflection

These words, which expand on our Lord’s own words: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:11–12). The simile of the crown—a mark of victory and kingship—is used to convey the idea of definitive triumph with Christ: the Lord will appear crowned in glory; the Woman of the Apocalypse, symbolizing the Church and the Blessed Virgin, is also described as crowned and this reward is promised to those who stay true to God in this life. It is also to be found in other New Testament passages to convey the idea of the ultimate reward of heaven.

This means that Christians should not be depressed or cowed by the difficulties which God permits them to experience; on the contrary, they should see them as a series of tests which with God’s help they should surmount in order to receive the reward of heaven. “The Lord does not allow his followers to experience these trials and temptations unless it be for their greater good,” St John of Avila comments. “ He disposed things in this way: endurance in adversity and struggle against temptation prove who his friends are. For the mark of a true friend is not that he keeps you company when times are good, but that he stands by you in times of trial. Companions in adversity and later in the Kingdom, you should strive to fight manfully when you meet opposition that would separate you from God, for He is your help here on earth and your reward in heaven.”

– Mary Healy

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.     

What Sign Do You Seek?

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.
(Mark 8:11-13)

Scripture Study

8:11 The approach of the Pharisees stands in stark contrast to the three previous episodes—the exorcism of the Syrophoenician child, the healing of the deaf-mute, and the feeding of the four thousand—in which people approach Jesus to receive his love and compassion. The Pharisees, instead, come forward to argue and to test him by demanding a sign from heaven, that is, a validating miracle. Since Jesus has up to this point been performing one miracle after another, such a demand can be rooted only in stubborn perversity, the refusal to open their hearts to the testimony of his deeds of mercy.

8:12–13 Jesus sighs from the depth of his spirit, expressing his distress at their hardness of heart (see 3:5). This generation again recalls the “evil generation” of Israelites who refused to trust God even after witnessing all that he had done in Egypt, and who were therefore denied entrance to the promised land (Deut 1:35; see Ps 95:8–10). Like them, Jesus’ opponents are motivated not by a sincere desire for truth but by a refusal to relate to God on God’s own terms. To insist on irrefutable evidence is really a demand for control, as if to say: “Force us to believe, so that we will not have to trust you or change our hearts.” But faith that is compelled is not faith at all. Jesus’ emphatic preface Amen, I say to you (see Mark 3:28) gives a special weight to what he is about to say: No sign will be given to this generation—that is, no sign that will satisfy their criteria for proof. His miracles and deeds of mercy will invite faith, but not coerce it. For those who reject his offer, who choose to be “those outside” (see 4:11), he can only walk away.

This painful exchange marks the end of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. From now on his focus will be on training his disciples in preparation for the culminating events of his life, and he will return to Galilee only once, in secret (9:30).

Scripture Reflection

Demands for proof of religious claims are as strident today as they were among Jesus’ contemporaries. Today there are a host of books, articles, and programs claiming to refute Christian beliefs simply by showing that they cannot be proven according to empirical scientific criteria. But such attempts reveal only a false and truncated view of reality—as if the only things that are real are those that can be visibly observed and measured.

Pope Benedict comments, “There can be a thousand rational objections—not only in Jesus’ generation, but throughout all generations, and today maybe more than ever. For we have developed a concept of reality that excludes reality’s translucence to God. The only thing that counts is what can be experimentally proven. [But] God cannot be constrained into experimentation.” Such demands for proof can be an excuse to avoid what God reveals of himself, because “knowledge of God always lays claim to the whole person.”

– Mary Healy

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.