The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle A of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 22:15-21.

After thoroughly rebuking the Jewish priests, scribes and elders, two other opposing Jewish factions join forces to confront Christ.  The Pharisees were ultra-rigorous Jews who believed God would reward Israel if every one just acted holy.  The Herodians, the Roman’s choice to administer Roman rule, were Jewish elite who enjoyed riches and power by collaborating with the Romans. These opposing factions band together and form an evil coalition to seek to condemn Christ.

Scheming, they seek to trap Him. First they attempt to flatter Christ; ironically, they speak the truth about Christ but don’t believe what they are saying. Foolish, they think they’ve set the perfect trap: If Christ says “to pay” the census tax to Caesar they can accuse Him of siding with the Romans instead of His own Jewish people and if Christ says “do not pay” they can report Him to Caesar for insurrection.

Christ easily sees through their hypocrisy and authoritatively directs the Herodians and Pharisees to bring Him a denarius, a Roman coin with Caesar’s image, idolatrously venerated by Romans as a god. They foolishly bring Christ a coin proving their own hypocrisy by carrying an idolatrous coin and then He forces them to further participate in their own humiliation, asking whose image is on the coin. After they reply “Caesar”, Christ responds with words that have been quoted for over 2000 years, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”  Totally outwitted, the Herodians and Pharisees slink away, “marveling” at Christ (v. 22; omitted).

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Wisdom, Christ knows the hearts of the attackers and masterfully eludes their attempted trap. Divine King, Christ outwits, humiliates and rebukes some of Israel’s best thinkers, leaving them in awe. Divine Teacher, Christ’s words continue to teach men throughout the ages. Son of God, even Christ’s enemies can not but help marvel at His wisdom.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ is the greatest debater/orator who has ever lived, for He is the Son of God. Think of men or women that impress you as eloquent, witty or combative speakers and realize that Christ is infinitely superior.

2) As in the days of Rome, many men today “worship” political or social figures, putting their faith and trust in mere human beings to solve the world’s problems. Review the Catechism’s teaching on Idolatry in the First Commandment (CCC 2112-2114) and pray for Christ to help you to put your faith solely in Him and not in men.

3) While Catholic men are called to be good citizens (“Render unto Caesar”), we can never cooperate with evil; Catholic men in the rapidly decaying modern culture must be both wise and courageous. Review the Church’s helpful catechesis on the Fourth Commandment section on Authorities in Civil Society (CCC 2234-2246) and pray for Christ to give you the fortitude to refuse to support or cooperate when governments/institutions/organizations acts immorally.

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

The Gospel reading from the Mass for Saturday of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 12:8-12.

After exhorting the disciples to fear God’s Judgment and to be fearless of His enemies (the Pharisees, scribes, etc.), Christ warns the disciples to be loyal unto death in proclaiming their allegiance to Him and to promote His Gospel to all men. Christ promises to acknowledge to the Father those men who are loyal and to deny those men who reject or fearfully retreat in the face of persecution.

Ever merciful, Christ promises to forgive those who have spoken against Him; Christ will forgive those who have opposed Him if they repent (the Apostle Paul is a case in point). Christ reveals that those who blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven: those who reject the Holy Spirit refuse the grace of salvation that comes through the Spirit (CCC 1864).

Great King, Christ steels the disciples with promises of how He will make them victorious in battle. Rather than meekly submit to all persecution in fear, men are to reject anxiety and to be confident in Christ. Remarkably, Christ promises to send the Holy Spirit to actively speak through men in times of trial. Rather than fearfully denying Christ, men can be super-naturalized with the Holy Spirit.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ reveals that the Holy Spirit is a person of the Trinity and promises the Holy Spirit will be given to men to guide their word in times of persecution. Divine Prophet, Christ accurately foresees the persecution of the Apostles. Divine King, He calls disciples to heroic self-sacrifice and, with omniscience, gives precise instructions as to the tactics they are to use.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While appearing to be a man, Christ has first-hand knowledge of the Father, the Holy Spirit, angels, Judgment and has the power to send the Holy Spirit to help men in times of distress. Be awed.

2) Many men can relate to the Father and the Son, but often find it difficult to relate to the Holy Spirit because He can seem mysterious. Renew your understanding of the Gift of the Holy Spirit (CCC 733-736, 1287) and the Desires of the Spirit (CCC 2541-2543) and pray for Christ to send the Holy Spirit to you to help on your path towards sainthood.

3) Denying Christ can be outright denial (e.g. “I reject Christ”) or to fail to oppose evil and/or to proclaim Christ to men (sins of omission). Realize your duty to Bear Witness to the Truth (CCC 1816, 2471-2474) and pray for Christ to send the Holy Spirit to “teach you…what you ought to say.”

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead

The Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 12:1-7.

Following His devastating critique and the announcement of the curses coming to the unrepentant Pharisees and scribes, massive crowds follow Christ, longing to hear and be healed by Him; many thousands of people are so frenzied and numerous that “they trod upon one another.”

Christ sums up the controlling weakness of the Pharisees as their hypocrisy. The word “hypocrite” has Greek roots which mean to be a “stage actor” or “pretender”; the Pharisees and scribes pretended to be holy but were not. Christ (God) has intimate knowledge of every man and sees through the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes. He warns that the Pharisees’ hypocrisy permeates (like leaven spreads throughout dough) all their teachings and corrupts all their followers.

Christ urges His disciples to not cower in the darkness because the Pharisees can only kill the body. Instead, Christ warns that God should be feared; He is all powerful, all knowing and can condemn the soul in eternity to Hell. The disciples should be courageous for Christ reveals that light of the Gospel will be proclaimed everywhere. He promises that God, who has dominion over Heaven and Hell, knows everything (the hairs on a man’s head) and will remember and protect the disciples when they are zealous and unafraid in proclaiming Gospel. Christ promises that men are of great value and that God will take care of them.

Awed by Jesus Christ – Son of God, Christ describes His Father based on first hand Divine knowledge, reiterates the reality of Hell and the truth about the Judgment. Perfection of Virtue, Christ exhorts the disciples to be courageous. Divine Judge, Christ warns that He acknowledges men who acknowledge Him and deny men who deny Him. Divine King, Christ exhorts men to be fearless in battle and promises to protect them.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Spurred on by pervasive media, men flock to sporting, entertainment and politics events. Marvel at the Divine Charisma of Christ which spurs word-of-mouth excitement and draws thousands upon thousands to undertake arduous travel and tough conditions to see Him.

2) Reflect on the truth that the God has intimate knowledge and love for you personally. Renew your understanding of having Personal Relationship with God (CCC 35, 37, 299, 2558) and pray for Christ to help you draw closer to Him as your King and Savior.

3) Many Catholic men fail to condemn sin because they fear being labeled a “hater” (or misogynist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, racist) but have lost the healthy fear of God; Christ explicitly says, “fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” Renew your understanding the essential need for Holy Fear (CCC 1041, 1303, 1831, 1845) and pray for Christ to help you have holy fear and trust in His mercy.

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

The Gospel reading from the Mass for Thursday of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 11:47-54.

Christ continues His condemnation of the hostile Pharisees and lawyers with a series of “woes”; “Woes” are a declaration of doom, curses that warn the unrepentant of God’s coming judgment.

Christ rebukes the Pharisees for hypocrisy and pride because they falsely honored the prophets, claiming  they would not have killed the prophets as their fathers had; Christ (the Divine Prophet) condemns their lies, knowing that the Pharisees will successfully carry out their schemes to kill Him.  Ominously, Christ warns that the current generation will bear the bloodguilt of all the murdered prophets; as the Son of God, His murder at their hands will confirm their guilt and Christ confirms that justice “shall be required of this generation”;  within a generation, Christ’s prophecy will be fulfilled as hundreds of thousands of Jews are killed and Jerusalem is demolished by the Romans in A.D. 70.

Christ again (v. 45) condemns the lawyers, this time of taking away the “key to knowledge”; Christ exposes the lawyers’ manipulative practice of keeping Scriptures locked up, restricting access to keep control of what men were allowed to hear. Now exposed, the Pharisees and lawyers begin to relentlessly attack Christ, seeking to build evidence against Him; ironically, this validates Christ’s revelation of their evil.

Awed by Jesus Christ – Son of God, Christ has perfect knowledge of the inner evil motives of the Pharisees and lawyers and their future evil acts. Divine Prophet and Judge, Christ condemns their evil intentions and foresees the burden the generation will bear for His murder.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ knows the Pharisees are scheming to murder Him. Reflect on Christ’s impressive courage, that despite the powerful Pharisees’ plans, He harshly condemns them publicly, in the home of a Pharisee (Luke 11:37).

2) Christ condemns the Pharisees for failing to pass along the truth to the people; sadly, vast numbers of Catholics today do not know the faith. Renew your personal commitment to Catechesis (CCC 4-9, 426, 983, 1095, 2688), relying on the Truth that resides in the Magisterium (CCC 84-100), and ask Christ to help you grow in knowledge of the faith and to teach others.

3) Unlike Christ, many Catholics are afraid to loudly condemn the sins being promoted in the increasingly perverted society and to defend the truth of the Catholic faith. Renew your understanding of your obligation to Defend the Faith (CCC 1285, 1303) and pray for Christ to strengthen you to avoid the cowardliness of political correctness and to be able to effectively proclaim His Truth.

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

 

The Gospel reading from the Mass for the Feast of St. Luke is Luke 10:1-9.

Having sent out His 12 Apostles on a similar mission (Luke 9:1-6), Christ commissions an expanded group of 70 disciples on a second wave of evangelization.  Christ’s decision to send 70 is prophetic: Moses appointed 70 elders (Num 11:24-25); Genesis describes the all the ancient world as 70 nations (Gen 10) which Jesus will later command to be evangelized (Matt 24:47).

Christ confidently directs His 70 men with precise instructions: He warns of attacks on evangelists (the wolves) and that people and whole cities will reject the Gospel, resulting in their doom (v. 12; see also v. 13-16); He tells disciples to go in poverty (no purse, bag, sandals) and to rely on charity, establishing a firm base in each town with one receptive host; He directs them to perform miracles by healing the sick and then to reveal that the Kingdom of God has drawn near to them.

St. Luke was a Roman citizen who was trained as a physician and was a disciple of St. Paul (Phil 1:24, Col 4:14, 2Tim 4:11) who experienced the many persecutions of Paul and cared for him during imprisonment. Charged by Paul to write an account of the Gospel and early Church, Luke was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles (about a quarter of the New Testament). Using the discipline of a physician, St. Luke carefully incorporated existing Gospel accounts (Matthew) as well as eyewitnesses (including the Blessed Virgin Mary, Peter, Paul). St. Luke died of old age and his relics continue to be venerated at  St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague and several other places.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, the Son of God establishes and perfects models (i.e. “70”) in Salvation History. Almighty King and Lord, Christ grants authority and decisively directs His men to fight for His Kingdom in the Spiritual Combat against Satan; He grants the power to perform miraculous healing; He gives precise and directive instructions as to the mindset and tactics the Apostles are to use.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  Christ’s call of St. Luke is Divine Genius: as a physician, Luke sustains Paul by caring for his injuries and ailments; Luke’s physician training prepares him to write a systematic and disciplined account; Luke incorporates the Blessed Virgin’s accounts of Christ’s early life and first hand accounts of Peter’s and Paul’s establishment of the early Church; as a Greek, Luke is able to write in a way that non-Jews will be able to understand. Reflect on Christ’s excellent decision to call Luke.

2) Like 70 disciples, Luke was a zealous missionary witness. Renew your understanding of the duty to be a Missionary Witness (CCC 2044-2051) and the need for Zeal (CCC 584, 824, 2004, 2750) and pray for Christ to fill you and all Catholic men with missionary zeal.  St. Luke, pray for us!

3) In the day-to-day battle of life, men can forget about the powerful champions Christ has given men in the Saints. Renew your understanding of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to help you to be strengthened by your Patron Saint(s) (CCC 2165, 2156) and those Saints who can help you prevail over your life challenges.

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