Having completed His work in Galilee, Jesus “sets His face” in steely determination and begins the heroic ascent to Jerusalem where He will proclaim Truth, suffer on the Cross and be “taken up” in triumph in the Ascension.

Christ calls for exclusive and absolute commitment of those who seek Heaven. He warns one enthusiastic man who makes a impulsive promise to Christ to “follow  you wherever You go” to expect extreme hardship as a disciple (i.e. nowhere to lay one’s head). After calling one man to “Follow me”, the man pleads with Christ to allow him to fulfill the sacred duty of burying his father; Christ offers a blunt and highly provocative rebuke (i.e. let the dead bury the dead) to make clear the the urgent and more sacred commitment of a Christian.

Another man, with great respect (calls Jesus, “Lord”), promises to follow Jesus, but requests permission to bid his family farewell. Jesus makes clear that those who weakly long for their old life (i.e. look back) are not worthy of the manly vocation (i.e. the plow) of being Christ’s disciple and the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ’s requirement for this kind of absolute commitment and obedience is stunning; it exceeds the demands of the Old Testament prophet Elijah who allowed his disciple Elisha to say goodbye to his parents (1 Kings 19:19-21).

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ firmly rebukes overzealous or lukewarm men and demands absolute and exclusive commitment.  Divine Teacher, Christ knows that lukewarmness kills men and firmly teaches men the truth about discipleship.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men look up to hard and demanding leaders who command respect and “set the bar high.” Reflect on Christ’s demanding expectations and no-nonsense approach to challenging men to discipleship.

2) Millions of Catholic men have not made the “100% all in” commitment that Christ demands; Christ makes it clear that they are not fit for Heaven. Pray for Christ to give you the faith, today, to give yourself heroically and completely to Christ.

3) Christ seeks unconditional devotion and routinely asks those He calls to heroic action. Are you taking action for Christ?  What is Christ calling you to do to build the Kingdom?

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

After His several-year missionary campaign in Galilee and elsewhere, Christ turns toward His Holy city of Jerusalem to be “received up”; this refers to His glorious entry into Jerusalem, His proclamations in the Temple, His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Christ “set His face” to go to Jerusalem, a steely determination to do the Father’s will which echoes Isaiah’s prophecy that the Suffering Servant will set his “face like flint” against his enemies (Isa 50:7).

Christ leads and directs His men, sending an advance party to a Samaritan village to prepare for His arrival. Samaritans had Jewish roots but had intermingled with pagan religions; Samaritans and Jews had great animosity against each other. Because of Christ’s known plan of going to Jerusalem, the Samaritans refuse to receive Him. The Samaritans, perhaps inspired by Satan, offer opposition to Christ’s mission. Christ is undeterred and goes instead to a different village.

James and John are called the “Sons of Thunder” by Christ Himself (Mark 3:17); they ask Christ if they should call down fire from Heaven to destroy the Samaritans. Remarkably, something in Christ’s fiery demeanor give them reason to assume that He might destroy a city, that He has the power to do so and that they can share in that supernatural power. Christ rebukes them: He did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ’s life and Passion is revealed to the Prophet Isaiah 700 years before the Incarnation. Son of Man, Christ is zealous and has a powerful personality that is combative. Divine King, Christ directs His disciples to take action in specific ways and delegates authority. He forcefully rebukes His followers when needed. Divine Mercy, Christ’s love for men is absolute and He wishes that all men might be saved.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  The presentation of a false “cuddly” Christ to modern men has left many unconvinced and many bored. Marvel at how highly combative and strong men (the “Sons of Thunder”) give themselves to Christ and that Christ’s fiery disposition leads them to assume (falsely) that Christ would call down fire in judgment.

2) There is a tendency for some Catholic men to be “Sons of Thunder”, men who want to attack and destroy those who oppose Christ. Reflect on Christ’s rebuke of James and John  and pray for Christ to guide you to balance the assertion of Christ’s Truth with His Mercy.

3) While the reality of Satan is avoided or scoffed at by many in the modern world, Christ confirms that Satan and his demons are real and active in the world. Realize that like Satan opposes Christ, Satan attacks men who seek to follow Christ; men who renew their commitment to Christ are immediately targeted. Pray for Christ to guide and protect you against the attacks of Satan.

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

After rebuking the disciples for their lack of faith and offering a veiled prophecy of His Passion which the disciples don’t understand, the disciples begin to argue among themselves about which of them is the greatest. Perhaps insecure and certainly still far from their future saintly holiness, the disciples’ selfishness blinds them to the reality that they are in the presence of God.

Nothing is hidden from Christ’s watchful gaze and omniscience.  Always ready to use circumstances to teach, Christ does the unexpected: to address the issue of greatness, Christ calls a lowly child to Himself.  In a rebuke to the disciples who seek greatness, Christ paradoxically uses a child to teach that the humility of a child is the key to greatness in Heaven. He emphatically states that men must protect and provide for children (receive); in doing so, men serve the Father and the Son.

John, the youngest of the disciples and called a Son of Thunder by Christ Himself (Mark 3:17), demonstrates his combative nature by wanting to stifle someone else who is casting out demons in the Name of Jesus. John’s troubling reason is that the other exorcist does not follow “us”; this in contrast to following “Jesus.”  John has not yet realized his own smallness and that all power and glory comes exclusively from Christ. Jesus rebukes John, saying that all who authentically (evidently the exorcist was successful and Christ approves) perform acts in Christ’s Name are not to be prevented.  Interestingly, Christ is beginning to grant authority to the disciples to prevent or not prevent.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ has personal knowledge of the mysteries of Heaven and explains the Father’s personal attention to and love of every soul. Christ also affirms the reality of demonic activity and the need for exorcism. Divine King, Christ rebukes even His beloved disciple John when necessary. Divine Teacher, Christ confirms the great spiritual battle in the world and describes how Christians must be in unity.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Like John and the disciples who argue about who is the greatest (Mark 9:30-37), men arrogantly forget that only Christ is King.  Reflect on Christ’s greatness and the fact that you (like every man) are very, very small.

2) Christ speaks in terms of Spiritual Combat, the reality that Satan and men of the world are against Christ. Realize that you are in the midst of a raging battle between evil and good. Commit to be a soldier who fights for Christ this day and every day.

3) In contrast to the post-modern culture that worships prideful self-esteem, Christ’s confirms that deep humility is a requirement for Heaven.  Commit in humble service to Christ to perform some specific act of charity for some who is suffering today.

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

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Christ offers a frighting look into the eternal damnation of those who ignore the plight of the poor. In the parable, the Rich Man spends his days in gluttony, eating exquisite meals while right in his front yard, the poor Lazarus is starving, tormented by wild dogs who lick at his wounds.

Both die and go to Hades, a realm of the dead where all who die reside prior to Christ’s opening of Heaven after His Resurrection. Though in Hades, Lazarus enters in the relative comfort of Abraham’s bosom, being united with the just of the Old Testament. Because of his callous disregard for Lazarus’ plight, the Rich Man is cast into depths of Hades where the evil reside in suffering in eternity.

Christ reveals disturbing details of the plight of the damned.  The damned are aware of their plight, both in what they are eternally experiencing and that others (like Lazarus) are comforted. An inferno of flames engulf the evil, leaving them in thirsty anguish. The damned will be without hope, unable to exit the burning Hell or to have any influence on the fates of their families.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God with the Father for eternity, has knowledge of the realities of both Heaven and Hell. Divine Prophet, Christ constructs memorable parables to offer a warning of the torments of Hell for those still on earth.  Divine Judge, Christ determines who will be admitted into Heaven and who will be cast into Hell.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) It is common for men to skim over Scripture and fail to grasp the astounding nature of Christ. Reflect with awe on the fact that Christ is speaking with first-hand experience about the realities of Hell.

2) Men desire justice, a putting of things “right” in which they are treated fairly; but most men don’t seek justice, they seek advantage.  God’s Justice is perfect: reflect on the justice exacted on the Rich Man who rejected God in life and was granted his desire in the afterlife.

3) While many Catholic men may convince themselves they would relieve the obvious suffering of Lazarus, there remains massive suffering in the world that is apparent to any who don’t avert their eyes.  Respond to Christ’s call to the Corporal Works of Mercy and commit to perform some act of mercy this week.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner

As background for today’s reading, Christ has been forming His Apostles for their roles as leaders in the spreading of His Gospel worldwide: He has given the Sermon on the Mount, healed thousands, raised the son of the widow of Nain, miraculously calmed the storm and Fed the 5000, revealed that He is the Messiah, been transfigured and explicitly predicted His Passion. And yet, the Apostles remain confused at some of His sayings.

He says to them: “the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” The “Son of Man” was a mysterious phrase, but not unknown to Jews, appearing over 100 times in the Old Testament. Given Christ’s explicit confirmation that He is the Christ and His prediction of the Passion (Luke 9:18-22), it seems strange that the Apostles are confused. The reason for their confusion is revealed: Christ has concealed the meaning for a time, perhaps so they might remember and marvel when Christ’s prophecies come true.

Just before this reading, Christ has cast a demon out of young boy and severely rebuked His disciples who had failed to help the boy: “O faithless and perverse nation. How long am I to be with you and bear with you?”  Still stung by Christ’s rebuke, the disciples are afraid to question Him about the saying.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, with dominion over all Creation, Christ casts out demons and causes crowds to marvel. He has the power to mysteriously “conceal” His meaning from the disciples. Son of Man, Christ is the long-awaited MessiahDivine King, Christ is direct in His commands and strikes fear and awe in His disciples.  Divine Prophet, Christ offers mysterious prophecies of His coming Passion.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) With the constant innovation and change in modern society, ancient things become lost to the minds of men. Reflect on the fact that 600 years before the Incarnation, the Prophet Daniel predicted Christ the Son of Man’s arrival. Be awed.

2) The sweet and gentle, feminized Jesus portrayed by some in order to make Jesus more “acceptable” to oversensitive modern men is a counterfeit Christ. The true Jesus Christ speaks with fearsome authority and often instills a holy fear in men. Reflect on Christ’s awesome insight and power to judge your soul.

3) Despite the deliberate effort by God to ensure that Scripture is available to men so they may know Him, most men don’t read Scripture. Reflect on Christ’s command to “Let these words sink into your ears…” and commit to persevere in hearing Christ each day in Scripture.

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