A Father Who Defends Me

February 28, 2018 Wednesday (Week II of Lent) Jeremiah 18:18-2; Psalm 31; Matthew 20:17-28 Lord, listen to what my adversaries say. Jeremiah 18:19 As children, we ran to our fathers when anyone attacked us, physically or verbally. They couldn’t always stop people from talking bad about us, but they gave us confidence in ourselves, taught us how to deal with it. Our Father in heaven does that for us still. He did it for Jesus. Jesus applied to himself what he said to his disciples about the request they made: “This is not mine to give. It is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When his people were rejecting him, refusing him the title of Messiah, Jesus went to the Father

A Father Who Dialogues

February 27, 2018 Tuesday (Week II of Lent) Isaiah 1:10-20; Psalm 50; Matthew 23:1-12 Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord… Isaiah 1:18 Our Father is not a God who simply lives in the remoteness of his infinite Truth, leaving us to obey him blindly. No, he gets “down and dirty” with us in dialogue. He confronts us in the concrete details of our life, tells us what he thinks of them, and what we can expect of him. In today’s readings he pulls no punches. He gets explicit about false religion, especially that of the scribes and Pharisees. But at the same time he tells us through Isaiah: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.” With Jesus, and with our Fa

Our Father By Covenant

February 26, 2018 Monday (Week II of Lent) Daniel 9:4-10; Psalm 79; Luke 6:36-38 God, you who keep your merciful covenant… Daniel 9:4 Edmund Burke defined society as “a covenant between the great dead, the now living, and the yet unborn” (Reflections on the Revolution in France). The Church is this. We have a commitment, not only to God, but to Christians past, present, and future. We call it the “communion of saints.” The Covenant is founded on the fidelity of God—who defines himself as “steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6; John 1:14, 17). For us to live in conscious faith-full-ness to the Covenant is a “fruit of the Holy Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). The powerful don’t have to negotiate; they dicta

The Father Outloves Us

February 25, 2018 Sunday (Week II of Lent) Genesis 22:1–18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31–34; Mark 9:2-10 He who did not spare his own Son… how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Romans 8:32 We all sympathize with Abraham, commanded to sacrifice his only son. We are glad he didn’t have to. But God the Father did not spare himself; he actually did sacrifice his only Son. He did it for us. How much love does that show? The Father outloves us—by a score of infinite to one! Paul asks, “If God handed over his own Son for us, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” We might answer, “He already has.” We can begin to count our blessings, but we will never fini

A Magnanimous Father

February 24, 2018 Saturday (Week I of Lent) Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Psalm 119; Matthew 5:43-48 Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 If Jesus says this, it means our Father wants us to be perfect, invites us to be perfect as he himself is perfect, and makes it possible. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), knowing how Catholics think, called aiming at perfection a “must,” an obligation: It is evident to everyone that all the faithful of Christ… are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love… Every Catholic must therefore aim at Christian perfection (see James 1:4; Romans 12:1-2)... The Church no. 40; Ecumenism, no

Our Father Is Fair

February 23, 2018 Friday (Week I of Lent) Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 130; Matthew 5:20-26 Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? Ezekiel 18:25 We get angry with God. We blame him when things go wrong. He understands that. But today our Father asks us, are we really being fair? God made people free; therefore, free to hurt others. So, ultimately, God is responsible when we do. But what choice does he have? Free is free. If we are not free to do evil, we are not free. That would make God a liar. Our Father sent Jesus, not to prevent, but to “take away the sins of the world.” Our Father sent Jesus, not to take suffering out of the world, but to take it on himself. Jesu

The Father Gives Jesus

February 22, 2018 The See (Chair) of St. Peter 1Peter 5:1-4; Psalm 23; Matthew 16:13-19 Thursday (Week I of Lent) Esther C 12:14-25; Psalm 138; Matthew 7:1-12 Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. Matthew 10:22 When Peter recognized who Jesus was, Jesus told him the Father had revealed the truth to him. Peter’s faith in Jesus was a gift of the Father. Most of us owe our faith to our fathers and mothers; at least, its beginnings. We should be grateful for the life-giving gift faith is, and for what it may have cost our parents to persevere in the faith themselves long enough to give it to us. We should also appreciate the Father for giving us the gift of b

The Father Of Mercies

February 21, 2018 Wednesday (Week I of Lent) Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 51; Luke 11:29-32 Return to me with your whole heart, for I am kind and merciful. Joel 2:12 When God saw that at Jonah’s preaching the Ninevites “turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil he had threatened to do to them.” But it was God who sent Jonah to Nineveh in the first place! “I do not want sinners to die, but to change their ways, and live!” (Ezekiel 18:23). In sending Jesus, the Father showed more mercy than he did by sending Jonah. “The people of Nineveh… repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!” (Matthew 12:41). The Father sent Jesus: that we might “have life, a

The Father Nourishes

February 20, 2018 Tuesday (Week I of Lent) Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 34; Matthew 6:7-15 Just as… the rain and snow come down… Isaiah 55:10 God’s word is life-giving. “My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” He sends it to “water the earth, making it fertile and fruitful.” Jesus assures us, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” He also knows what is best for us. And supplies it—more reliably than any human father for his children. Where anything is lacking, it is because humans have deprived one another. Most—and best—of all, God nourishes us with truth. Jesus rejected an expected but false messianic role when he refute

The Father Gives Rebirth

February 19, 2018 Monday of Week I of Lent Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; Psalm 19; Matthew 25:31-46 Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. Leviticus 19:1 We understand that God would proclaim his holiness to us; but not that he would call us to a holiness like his own! What kind of God would suggest that we could be anything like him? What does it say of God that he wants us to be? God doesn’t want to stay remote from us, just adored in his infinite transcendence. Yes, he alone is God. But he doesn’t want to be God alone. He wants us to “be God.” For that he shares his own divine life with us, life that makes us holy as he is holy. The Father lifts us above created existence to share in h

Water Says To Us, “Father”

February 18, 2018 Sunday of Week I of Lent Genesis 9:8–15; Psalm 25; 1 Peter 3:18–22; Mark 1:12-15 There shall not be another flood to devastate the earth. Genesis 9:11 But the Father promised there would be another flood, not to devastate the earth, but to bring life to everyone on it: I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring (Isaiah 44:3). Water is a gift—and also a symbol, a reminder—of the Father’s love (see “Vidi Aquam,” Ezekiel 47:1). Jesus fulfilled the Father’s promise when he poured out the water of Baptism on the world: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, bapti

Our Creator? Or Our Father?

February 17, 2018 Saturday after Ash Wednesday Isaiah 58:9-14; Psalm 86; Luke 5:27-32 I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners. Luke 5:32 Didn’t Jesus come to call everyone to metanoia, a “change of mind”? If “those who are healthy do not need a physician,” does that mean relationship (interaction) with Jesus isn’t necessary for people leading good, morally healthy lives? Everything depends on whether we see God as Creator or as Father. If we see God as Creator, “righteousness” means to live according to human nature. “Sin” (hamartia, to “miss the mark”) is anything subhuman, less than the Ten Commandments. If we see God as Father, righteousness means to live accordi

For The Father, Love Trumps Laws

February 16, 2018 Friday after Ash Wednesday Isaiah 58:1-9; Psalm 51; Matthew 9:14-15 This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly… Isaiah 58:6 How does our Father think? Does he just want us to keep a lot of laws, regardless of how they affect us or others? Or are all of his laws based on compassion and concern for us, his children, and for the good of everything on the planet? “God is love.” So everything he does and desires is love. To “keep his commandments” and to “abide in love” are interchangeable—“those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (John 15:10; 1John 4:16). When we know that, we have come a long way toward knowing the Father. F

Changing Our Mind About The Father

February 15, 2018 Thursday after Ash Wednesday Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 51; Luke 9:22-25 I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life. Deuteronomy 30:19 Is it absurd to say some people perceive religion as a curse? My brother does. He grew up terrified of God. Religion was an obstacle course of “mortal sins.” If you missed a hurdle you could spend all eternity in the fire of hell. To save his sanity, he stopped believing in God. What could this Lent be for him? What could it be for the rest of us? Deuteronomy says, “Obey the Lord, your God… loving him…” “Loving him…” John wrote: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to

Discovering The Father

February 14, 2018 Ash Wednesday Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51; 2Corinthians 5:20 to 6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-1 Return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness. Joel 2:13 During Lent, Joel invites us to “return” to the Lord our God. Can we do that? In Luke 15:18, the Prodigal Son did not say. “I will return to my father,” but “I will get up and go to my father, and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against you.’” The Greek word for “go” in Luke is the same as in Mark16:15, when Jesus told his disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News.” The Prodigal could not “return” to his father, because he never really knew him as the father he actually

A Friend Forever

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 Last day of Week VI in Ordinary Time James 1:12-18; Psalm 94; Mark 8:14-21 Blessed are they who persevere… When they have been proven they will receive the crown of life. James 1:12 Most friendships don’t happen overnight. We grow into them. And they test us. True friends have put up with a lot from each other. Friendship with Jesus is no different. We disagree, don’t understand, ask him for things he doesn’t do. And sometimes we won’t do what Jesus asks us to do. But if we persevere, we grow into deep, personal friendship—with Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit. These reflections are meant to encourage you to persevere in working to know Jesus better—by reading a

A Friend Who Doesn’t Play Games

Monday, February 12, 2018 Week VI in Ordinary Time James 1:1-11; Psalm 119; Mark 8:11-13 Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Mark 8:12 Jesus would not give a sign because the Pharisees didn’t really want one. They just wanted an excuse not to believe in him. Jesus doesn’t play games with the insincere. That’s good. We are all insincere sometimes, often without recognizing it. But Jesus is a friend who won’t leave us there. He leads us to face reality. Usually gently, although if need be, he can be tough. Jesus never gives up on us. St. James assures us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and you will be

A Friend Who Makes Me Clean

Sunday, February 11, 2018 Week VI in Ordinary Time Leviticus 13:1–2, 44–46; Psalm 32; 1 Corinthians 10:31 to 11:1; Mark 1:40-45 Blessed is the one whose fault is taken away. Psalm 32:1 Human friends can accept me, forgive me, help me to be better. But they cannot actually take away my guilt or relieve me of the burden of my past sins. I am still the person who did whatever I have done. Not so with Jesus. He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” He does it by dying, and by incorporating us into his body on the cross so that we might die in him. That is the mystery of our redemption. When Jesus died we were in him, with all of our sins, past, present, and future. In Chri

A Friend Who Involves Me

Saturday, February 10, 2018 Week V in Ordinary Time 1Kings 12:26 to 13:34; Psalm 106; Mark 8:1-10 My heart is moved with pity… How many loaves do you have? Mark 8:2, 5 Jesus was about to feed 4000 people, using his divine power. But first he asked his disciples, “How many loaves do you have?” They had seven. He used them. Jesus involves his friends in everything he does. God likes to act through humans. That is what “sacraments” are: human actions through which God does things he could do without them. For example, people can be reborn through “Baptism of desire,” without the physical sacrament. And God forgives anyone who repents, with or without Confession. But Jesus likes to gives grace

A Friend Who Asks Why

Friday, February 9, 2018 Week V in Ordinary Time 1Kings 11:29 to 12:19; Psalm 81; Mark 7:31-37 The man’s ears were opened, and his speech impediment was removed. Mark 7:35 Speaking depends on hearing. So Jesus, to restore speech, first restored hearing. He addresses causes. He “lays the ax to the root of the tree” (Matthew 3:10). His reforms are “radical.” They are “root” changes. As friend, Jesus renews our lives from the bottom up. He looks to the core of our being, sees everything we are and can be, accepts us as we are right now, and works to free us from everything that keeps us from becoming all we can be. Our relationships have the same dimensions as our interactions. Friends who in

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