With momentum growing in His ministry and the battles with the Jewish leadership escalating, Christ moves to establish men who will be His leaders of the Catholic Church. After going up on a mountain for an all-night prayer vigil with the Father (Luke 6:12), Christ hand-selects 12 men to be His Apostles (meaning “to be sent”) from His growing group of disciples.  Christ exclusively chooses men to establish a new priesthood for His New Covenant and to underscore the essential role that men must play in the Church.

Each of these Apostles (excluding Judas), are patriarchs (“Fathers”) of the Church and will give their lives in the service of Christ. Simon Peter is the first pope, is the source for Mark’s Gospel, writes the Epistles of 1st and 2nd Peter and is martyred in Rome. James the Greater, the brother of John, was one of three of Christ’s inner circle (Peter, James and John) and was martyred in Jerusalem. John, part of Christ’s inner core, is directed by Christ to watch over the Virgin Mary, writes the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John and Revelation; he is harassed and exiled to Patmos. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, evangelized Greeks and was crucified in Patras on an X-shaped cross. Philip evangelized in modern day Turkey and continued to preach as he was crucified upside down. Bartholomew (also called Nathanael) may have evangelized in India and was flayed (skinned) to death. Matthew wrote the first Gospel, preached to the Jews in Judea and was martyred in Italy. Thomas preached in India and was martyred by spear. James the Lesser was thrown from the Temple wall, stoned and clubbed to death. Thaddeus (also called Jude) evangelized in Syria and was killed with an axe.  Simon Cananaean (also the Zealot) may have evangelized in Britain and Spain and was sawn in half.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of the Father, Christ prays a all night long prayer vigil as He prepares to call the Apostles. Son of Man, Christ demonstrates incredible stamina by praying all night and then healing and preaching the Sermon on the Plain.  Divine King, Christ appoints 12 men as His Apostles and signals His world-wide kingdom by speaking to Israel and Gentiles.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s purposeful selection of the 12 Apostles establishes the Church and endures to this day.  Review the Catechism’s teaching about “The Church is Apostolic” (CCC 857-870).

2) In the relativistic, self-focused society, many argue there is no such thing as truth. Realizing that Christ and His loyal Apostles (and millions more) have been martyred for Truth, review the Church’s teaching on Truth (CCC 2464-2513). Pray for Christ to help strengthen and prepare you to stand for truth, regardless of the cost.

3) Reflect on God’s deliberate consistent decision across Salvation History to choose men to lead Israel (CCC 50-64), is the Man Christ in the Incarnation, establishes the Church with 12 men to be Apostles.  Pray for Christ to strengthen you as a Catholic man to be a leader in your family, parish and in the Church.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries

Following several intense conflicts with the Jewish leadership, Christ prudently withdraws from Capernaum out into the countryside by the Sea of Galilee. Because of His authoritative teaching and miraculous healings, Christ was beginning to gain widespread interest from people drawn from all of Israel and also from the Gentile lands, confirming His universal call to all people.

The crowds are so large and desperate that, as they surge to draw close to Christ, there is a real danger that people could be hurt; Christ, able to remove Himself at will from difficult situations (Luke 4:29-30), perhaps was more concerned about injuries to others. Foreseeing the danger, Christ prudently comes up with an elegant solution: He has a boat at the ready to take Himself and the disciples out into the safety of the Sea of Galilee.

Christ heals many of the ill, so desperate that they seek to draw close to Him and touch him, because Christ radiates a mysterious “power” (Luke 6:19); Christ, immune from illness, is never infected with disease despite the constant contact with sick people. Those possessed, controlled by their demons who force the possessed to fall down and shriek, exalt Christ,  calling Him, “The Son of God.”

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is widely recognized for His power and followed by multitudes. Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of the flesh and immune from all types of diseases. Divine Physician, Christ has the power and knowledge to heal every kind of illness. Divine King, Christ authoritatively casts out demons from possessing people and orders them not to speak.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ, the Divine Physician, is recognized for His power to heal every kind of disease (CCC 1503-1510). Contemplate Christ’s healing power and be awed.

2) Celebrities come and go, but Christ continues to appeal to billions of people two millennia after His death and resurrection. Pray for Christ to increase your faith and your hunger to draw close to Him.

3) While some scoff at demons and others are fascinated by them (occult, horror films), Christ is familiar with the evil fallen angels who follow Satan; He engages and defeats both Satan and demons throughout the Incarnation. Arm yourself with the Church’s teaching about Satan and demons (CCC 391-395) and the need to be “delivered from evil” (CCC 2850-2854).

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

Corporal Work of Mercy – To shelter the homeless

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To bear wrongs patiently

27932

After several run-ins with the Pharisees and scribes about the Sabbath and His authority, Christ goes on the offensive on the Sabbath in the synagogue. The Pharisees, in their attempts to “will” Israel into God’s favor by enforcing excessively pious practices, had lost sight of love and mercy; even more grievous, the Pharisees and scribes were blind to the Son of God in their midst.

The perfect balance of truth and mercy, Christ mercifully seeks to engage the Pharisees in truth, deliberately exposing their confusion with a spectacular miracle. After teaching in the synagogue, Christ turns His attention to the Pharisees, knowing they hope to accuse Him for healing on the Sabbath, a breaking of the law in their twisted minds. Rather than play it safe, Christ has a man with a withered right hand stand up and provocatively asks the Pharisees, the experts in the law, a question about the law. The author of the Law, Christ knows that the law forbids servile work on the Sabbath but not works of mercy (Exod 20:23); Christ asks: “is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?”

Christ looks around the room, His powerful gaze falling on each of His would-be accusers; stung by previous rebukes from Christ, devious and cowardly, the Pharisees refuse to answer. The man with the withered right hand, resigned to live his remaining days as an emasculated cripple, stretches out his right hand at Christ’s command; the man’s hand and manhood is miraculously restored. Instead of marveling at the miracle, the Pharisees and scribes, pious practicers of the “law”, are filled with sufficient fury to team up with their rivals, the Herodians, committing themselves in a plot to destroy Jesus.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is the authoritative source of all of the law and the Lord of the Sabbath. He sees the hidden motivations of men. Divine Teacher, Christ uses powerful words and miracles to teach the truth in an unforgettable way.  Divine Mercy, Christ mercifully teaches and performs works of mercy. Divine Physician, Christ has the knowledge and power to miraculously heal every human infirmity.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s powerful gaze falls on every man, friend and foe, looking into their eyes and into their souls; it is a look of compassion, resoluteness and challenge. Reflect on your readiness to meet the gaze of Christ in your own Judgment (CCC 1020-1060); are you prepared?

2) Every man is destined to deal with his own or another’s disability, be it physical or mental illness, temporary or chronic, mild or severe. While some see suffering from disability as proof that God does not exist, Catholics see the truth of disability as a type of cross which offers great blessings if endured with love and valor; the fruits of Christ’s suffering proves God’s existence and wisdom.  Pray for Christ to strengthen you to bear disability as an opportunity to grow in love.

3) In the healing of the man with the withered hand and countless other examples, Christ demonstrates the commitment to mercy that He expects from His disciples. Review the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy (CCC 2443-2449) and commit to perform several works of mercy in the coming week.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – Saint Joseph

Virtue of the Day – Temperance

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the imprisoned

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To comfort the sorrowful

Christ now turns to the importance of the Sabbath as a day of rest and mercy. Jesus is directly accused by the Pharisees for breaking the law because His disciples plucked grain to eat on the Sabbath. The Pharisees, in their self-reliant attempts to achieve holiness to gain God’s favor, had extended Moses ritual laws that forbid harvesting grain on the Sabbath to include even plucking grain by the hungry.

Christ humiliates (“Have you not read”) the prideful Pharisees with a harsh rebuke that exposes their lack of understanding of Scripture by offering two examples (i.e. David’s men ate showbread; priests were guiltless for handling the bread of Presence). Remarkably, Christ offers a sign of His Eucharist in this encounter by references to grain/bread: the plucking of grain; the mention of showbread and priests who profane (a reference to the bread of Presence).

Christ also rebukes the Pharisees’ obsessive minute details for what could and could not be done on the Sabbath as a “test” for Jewish faithfulness; Christ’s words, “the Sabbath was made for man…”, underscore God’s intention of the Sabbath is meant to be a blessing and not a burden for men. Christ makes a shocking proclamation of His Divinity: “The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath.”

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ is the author of God’s laws passed down in Scripture. Son of God, Christ asserts His Divinity.  Divine Prophet, Christ teaches through powerful events which reveal the astonishing truth of the Eucharist and the ending of Jewish religious practices that stood for over a thousand years. Divine King and Teacher, Christ speaks with authority, rebuking the powerful Pharisees and correcting their misinterpretation of Scripture.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  All Scripture was inspired by Jesus Christ to reveal Himself. Marvel that Christ uses references about grain/bread/sacrifice embedded in the Old Testament, references Christ inspired Himself, which mysteriously point to the future revelation of the bread of the Eucharist.

2) A common tactic used to silence discussion about truth is accuse an opponent of being bigoted, insensitive or phobic. While Christ is Divine Mercy, He was also tough-minded and combative when confronting evil or falsehood and fearless in His  public rebuke of the powerful. Pray that Christ guide you to growing knowledge of Truth and Mercy and to give you a courageous heart to proclaim the Gospel.

3) For many, Sunday is only a weekend day of relaxation or another work day. Jesus Christ accepted the Crucifixion to save men from their sins and rose on Sunday. In thanksgiving, Catholics are to keep the Sabbath (CCC 2168-2195) and are obligated (i.e. must do to avoid a state of mortal sin – CCC 2181) to attend Mass every Sunday (CCC 2041) and keep Sunday, holy (Deut 5:12). Commit to never miss Mass and to grow in holiness on every Sunday (CCC 2184-2188).

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Guardian Angels

Virtue of the Day – Justice

Corporal Work of Mercy – To clothe the naked

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To counsel the doubtful

John the Baptist, a virile ascetic who preached in the harsh desert, practiced mortification of the mind and body (including fasting) to prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom (John 3:29). The Baptist, having heroically denounced King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, is imprisoned and will be killed for defending the sacredness of marriage. The Baptist’s followers practice fasting, but seeing that Jesus’ disciples do not, come to Christ for guidance.

Like the Baptist, Christ fasted (for 40 days! – Matt 4:2), underscoring the importance of fasting/mortifying the body. The Baptist had called Jesus “the Bridegroom” (John 3:29), referring to God’s spousal commitment to His people (Is 54:5-8).  Jesus, confirming that He is God/the Bridegroom, instructs His disciples to enjoy His presence without fasting until His Passion and to fast and mourn afterwards.

Jesus exhorts the Baptist’s disciples to make a complete break with the Old Covenant and give themselves completely to Him. In veiled terms, Christ’s metaphor of new wine/old wineskins mysteriously points to the outpouring of mercy in His Blood in Eucharistic wine.  Ominously, the metaphors also warn of the destructiveness of not giving one’s self completely to Christ (i.e. being torn or burst).

Awed by Jesus Christ – Jesus confirms that He is the Son of God by revealing He is the Bridegroom.  Divine Teacher uses enduring metaphors (wineskins, patching an old cloak) to draw disciples into deeper reflection.  Divine Prophet, Jesus alludes to His Passion (Bridegroom will be taken away) and warns that half-measures have bad consequences.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Modern society has desacralized marriage, celebrating single-motherhood and being “partners”, endorsing divorce and legalizing homosexual “marriage.” Strengthen your commitment to the Sacrament of Marriage (CCC 1601-1666) by reflecting on how John the Baptist died defending marriage and how Christ elevates the Sacredness of Marriage by His revelation of Himself as “Bridegroom” and the Church as His bride.

2) Modern culture is obsessed with eating and drinking (e.g. fast food, food porn, binge drinking, etc.) and many men are stuck in the deadly sin of gluttony (1866). Christ calls men to heroic virtue to free them from sins so they can draw closer to Him. Pray for Christ to help you grow in the virtue of temperance (CCC 1809, 1838, 2290).

3) The Church preserves Christ’s instructions for men to regularly fast (CCC  1434), including before receiving the Eucharist (CCC 1387) and with the 4th Precept (CCC  2043) which requires “days of fasting and abstinence” to help men gain mastery over instincts and obtain the freedom of heart. Pray for Christ to give you the fortitude to regularly fast to grow in holiness.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory

Virtue of the Day – Prudence

Corporal Work of Mercy – To give drink to the thirsty

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To instruct the ignorant