The Gospel reading from the Mass for Tuesday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 8:19-21.

As Christ teaches huge crowds in Galilee, His mother and brethren attempt to reach Him but the crowds are too great. Unable to draw close to her Son, Mary sends a message to Christ that she is nearby with His brethren. Christ uses this message, which was perhaps shouted through the crowd, to teach the crowd.  His spontaneous response is powerful: all men and women who do the will of God are His family, and each are related in the Spirit to each other. It is a beautiful proclamation to those hurting, isolated and longing for love and a call for men to recognize that all men are their brothers.

Some mistakenly interpret this event as Christ acting in a callous and divisive way to Our Lady. Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Christ, the Perfection of God, perfectly keeps all the laws, including the 4th Commandment to “Honor your father and mother…” Christ, Person of the Trinity, lovingly causes the Immaculate Conception of Mary and loves her deeply; Christ will crown Mary the Queen of Heaven (Rev 12:1).  As Christ reveals, she “who does the will of the Father is His “mother”; Mary, in her Immaculate Conception,  perfectly does God’s will in her fiat (Luke 1:38). Mary is not shunned; she honored by the Son of God as the perfect example.

Some mistakenly use the reference to the “brethren” of Jesus as proof that Mary had other children; this is false.  As taught by the Church for 2000 years, Jesus was the only child of the Virgin Mary, who remained a virgin her entire life; Jesus had no blood brothers or sisters. A number of points support this truth. Because Hebrew had no word for “cousin”, the word “brethren” was used instead. The “brethren of Jesus” are never called the children of Mary but Jesus is clearly Mary’s son. James and Joseph, mentioned as brethren of Jesus, are actually the sons of another Mary (Matt 27:56). Jesus gives His mother Mary to His disciple John at the crucifixion; Jesus would never have chosen John if He had blood brothers to care for His Mother Mary; this would have been against Jewish laws and customs.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ causes the Immaculate Mother of Christ to be born and loves Mary beyond measure.  Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of manhood who perfectly keeps the 4th Commandment to honor His father and mother. Divine Teacher, Christ spontaneously reacts with great wisdom to events, using them to further the explanation of the Gospel.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men admire men who can “think on their feet” and who can mesmerize a crowd.  Reflect on the Son of God’s awesome omniscience and His ability to spontaneous offer Divine Wisdom to the huge crowds who followed Him.

2) A great and beautify mystery (and dogma) of the Church is the truth that Mary was “ever virgin.” Refresh your understanding of Our Queen’s Perfect Virginity and Motherhood (CCC 487-507) and pray for Christ to help you to honor Mary as He Himself honored Our Lady.

3) Christ makes it clear that to be in His family, men must “hear the word of God and do it”; this is a call for complete obedience to Christ’s will in every aspect of their lives.  Review the Catechism’s teaching about Thy Will be done from the Lord’s Prayer (CCC 2822-2827) and pray for Christ to help you more clearly hear His Will and to do it.

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 Monday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 8:16-18.

After explaining the Parable of the Sower, Christ pauses to reveal part of His strategy of evangelization to encourage the disciples and build their confidence. He begins with the example of a lighted lamp. The revelation of the Gospel (the light) maybe hidden in the near term to confound those who are evil (covered with a vessel or hidden under a bed) but God’s intention is for His truth to be known (seen) by all (put the lamp on a stand).

Christ is preparing the disciples for their role as leaders in evangelization of the world. He takes them aside and patiently teaches them the deeper meaning of His parables. Christ directs the disciples to make His parables known broadly, uncovering the secret meaning so that His truth can be known by all.

With the blessing of receiving the fullness of truth from Christ comes great responsibility. Christ urges the disciples to heed His words, warning them that their exalted status could be taken away if they fail to productively use the gifts they have been given. This warning holds true for all men even today.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is the greatest strategist, planning out Salvation History and revealing it in deliberate stages. Divine King, prepares His disciples for their mission to bring the Gospel to all men. Christ Divine Teacher, Christ offers teachings which can be mysterious to the evil but made manifest to those who love Him. Divine Judge, Christ warns of clear consequences for those who do and do not heed His words.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men are impressed by great strategists, leaders who conceive and successfully implement breakthrough strategies. Reflect on God’s strategy that spans all of human history and the magnificent Incarnation of Christ as part the unfolding plan of Salvation History.

2) Despite Christ’s clear command to evangelize, many Catholic men are lackadaisical in living up to their responsibilities to share the gift of the Gospel. Reflect upon the call for you to Evangelize (CCC 429, 848-851, 905, 2044, 2225, 2472) and pray for Him to guide you to spread the Word.

3) Christ warns men of punishment for men who fail to respond to His call to evangelize, saying that “even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” Reflect on Punishment (CCC 1828, 1964, 2090) and Hell (CCC 1033-1037) and pray for Christ to fill you with a holy fear and love for Him so that you might seek growing 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

The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle A of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 20:1-16a.

Having told the disciples that “…many that are first will be the last, and the last first” (Matt 19:30), Christ delivers the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, a stunning revelation of His infinite magnanimity and the dramatic conversion of hearts required for disciples to be accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The parable describes God’s (Householder, Lord) tireless efforts to recruit men (laborers) to build His Kingdom (work in the vineyard). For those who respond to God’s call, there is Judgment (payment at the end of the day) and reward of Heaven, a singular blessing of the Beatific Vision (a single denarii) that encompasses the totality of God.  By God’s Grace, some men are blessed to have a conversion in Christ early in their lives (the first) while other men don’t convert until their last days (the last); both receive the same Beatific Vision of God in Heaven. Christ requires men to  rejoice in God’s generosity; those whose hearts are corrupted by pride, ingratitude and envy will not enter the Kingdom (they are told to go).

Christ’s amazing parable offers tremendous insights. Christ, with relentless effort, calls each man individually from the idleness and helplessness to the blessings of joining Him in building the Kingdom. Christ purposefully challenges men in their lives to confront their self-centeredness and to rejoice in His infinite generosity. He wants men to face their ingratitude, pride, envy and the false ideas of self-serving “justice”; these are the same evil delusions are what causes Satan’s fall. Christ wants men to discard worldly concepts of merit and to whole-heartedly take hold of the self-sacrificing work of the Gospel, reveling in the blessing of every saved soul. Though friendly in Judgment, Christ will not admit those into the Kingdom of Heaven who cling to their selfishness, pride, ingratitude and envy.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ acts with vigor and persistence to draw men from worldly aimlessness to a life dedicated to helping build His Kingdom; He requires a true conversion of heart.  Divine Mercy, Christ gives hope that even those who come late to Him can receive His Grace.  Divine Teacher, Christ teaches using parables which reveal mysteries in short, somewhat cryptic stories. Divine Judge, Christ holds men accountable to trust and accept His Gospel of love; some will be judged as unworthy of the Kingdom.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ offers men a glimmer into His Divine Goodness in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Be awed by God’s tireless efforts to draw men to His Kingdom, for His desire to teach and convert hearts and by the boundless generosity Christ offers to all men.

2) As Christ reveals in the parable, it is not men who justify themselves, but God who justifies men. Reflect upon God’s Justice and Justification (CCC 271, 1040, 1861, 1953, 1987-1995) and pray for Christ to give you the faith to accept His Justice completely.

3) Christ, who is the Perfection of Justice, calls men to the virtue of Justice. Review the Virtue of Justice (CCC 1805, 1807, 1459, 1778, 1787, 2446, 2479, 2487) and pray for Christ to help you grow in justice.

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

The Gospel reading from the Mass for Saturday of the 24th Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 8:4-15.

As Christ begins to proclaim the Gospel to the cities and towns of Galilee, He challenges the huge crowd that follows Him with the Parable of The Sower. A parable is short story that uses familiar images to draw the willing to ponder a cryptic deeper truth.  Christ uses parables to draw the humble to ponder and hunger for God, to conceal His teachings from the prideful and to pronounce judgment on those who reject Him.

The Parable of the Sower uses familiar imagery the crowd would recognize; all were familiar with agriculture and Jews would recall that the “Sower” refers to God in the Old Testament (Isa 55:10-11; Jer 31:27-28).  This magnificent parable describes the disposition of men to hear God, the Spiritual Combat, the confirmation of Satan’s work in the world and God’s expectations of men to be fruitful.

In private, Christ reveals to His disciples the secret in-depth understanding of the Parable of the Sower.  He describes four different reactions (Soils) to Christ’s (the Sower) announcement (Sowing) of the word of the Kingdom of Heaven (the Seed). Men who hear but don’t care to understand about the Kingdom (the path) are seduced by the Evil One/Satan (the birds). Men who hear but only have an initial shallow emotional reaction (rocky ground with shallow roots) fall away when tribulation/persecution (the scorching sun) occurs.  Men who hear but prefer and are choked by the pleasures of the world (the thorns) fail to bear fruit. Men who hear, understand and persevere to enter the Kingdom (the good soil) bear disciples and love for the King (extraordinary fruit).

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ reveals the reactions of men to His Kingdom and accepts only men who understand and willingly commit to bear signifiant fruit. Divine Teacher, full of Wisdom and the Greatest Orator, Christ uses compelling and memorable parables that draw on everyday experience to selectively teach those willing to hear. Divine Judge, Christ makes it clear that many men (the path, rocky ground, thorny ground) will fail to meet His expectations and will not enter into the eternal life of the Kingdom.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s description of the “soils” in the Parable of the Sower accurately describe today’s Catholic “man-crisis”; very few Catholic men are “good soil” (perhaps about 10%) who fervently practice the faith and are passionate about making disciples. Marvel at Christ’s all-knowing and eternal understanding of the souls of men.

2) Christ warns of the temptations that oppose responding to His Word: some are seduced by Satan (the path), others are “scorched” by troubles in the world and some are “choked” out by riches/pleasures and become sterile. Review the Catechism’s teaching from the Lord’s Prayer, Lead us not into temptation and Deliver us from Evil (CCC 2846-2854) and pray for Christ to protect, guide and strengthen you to bear the assaults of Satan and the world.

3) Christ has extremely high expectations (100, 60 and 30 fold!) for the fruit (i.e. disciples) men fit for the Kingdom of Heaven must produce. Refresh your understanding of the requirement to Bear witness to the Truth (CCC 1816, 2417-2474) and pray for Christ to help you be fruitful in bringing many souls to Him.

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 24th Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 8:1-3.

After the establishment of His base in Capernaum, Christ expands His ministry, traveling through surrounding cities and villages around Galilee and preaching His good news (the Gospel) of the Kingdom of God (or Heaven). The Kingdom of God is announced by Christ in the Incarnation and reflects God’s complete dominion over Creation and Salvation History. Those conformed to Christ, who do the Father’s will, are members of the Kingdom who gain the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life with God.

The Kingdom of God is both present now in the Church Christ established and still to come into fullness in the future when God’s will is done everywhere. Christ demonstrates the coming of the Kingdom by the Incarnation, His preaching and His many miracles. His miracles include the healing of physical bodies (infirmaries) and the spirit (the casting out of demons).

Among Christ’s followers are those who have gained access to the Kingdom of God by their faith. The leaders of His Kingdom in the Church, the Apostles (The Twelve), were called by Christ to “be with” Him; these men are witnesses who are trained to expand awareness of the Kingdom after Christ’s Ascension. Christ, confirming the opening of the Kingdom to both men and women, allows women to accompany Him on His mission work, a courageous counter-cultural act in a culture in which men and women were not allowed to associate in public. The women, demonstrating their commitment to the Kingdom, financially supported Christ and His Apostles, men who had given up their livelihoods for the Kingdom.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God and Divine Prophet, Christ announces His Kingship and announces of the Kingdom of God. Divine King, Christ appoints His key Apostles and accepts the support of good women. Divine Physician, Christ heals all human ailments including those of the body and demon possession.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel that despite the scandal of a rabbi having female disciples who travel with him, Christ invites women to become disciples, upholding the dignity of women.

2) Christ the King deliberately and in-errantly chooses 12 male Apostles to lead His Church and to evangelize the world. Reflect on the men Christ called to be Apostles (CCC 2, 96, 858-860, 1575, 1577) and pray for Christ to help you and all men to be sacrificial protectors, providers and leaders who bring their families and many souls to Christ through His Catholic Church.

3) Consistent with the generous women who followed Christ, the Church relies on the tireless efforts of women religious and lay women to sustain local parishes. Reflect upon the Catechism’s teaching about the Dignity of Women (CCC 1605, 1616, 2334, 2393)   and pray for Christ to help you and all men uphold the dignity of women.

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