After the Rich Man refuses the invitation to sell all his possessions and to follow Christ, Christ reveals that it is nearly impossible for those attached to wealth to enter into Heaven.  Alarmed, the disciples worry about their own salvation, wondering “Who then can be saved?”; Christ replies “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Still worried, Peter, speaking for the Apostles, says, “Lo, we have given up everything and followed you”. Peter’s statement reflects the disciples have not yet been fully formed in Christ: the statement sounds like a boast; while they have given up possessions, they have not yet given up everything (their lives); the disciples are still squabbling for honor (Mark 9:34); they still resist suffering/the Cross (Mark 8:32).

Christ does not rebuke Peter directly, but makes a promise that both inspires and warns of the persecutions that come with discipleship. Christ reveals that those who give up possessions (home, lands) and family (father, mother, brother, sister…even children) for the sake of the Gospel will be rewarded in the present age (with fellowship and peace) and with eternal life; He confirms that disciple’s motivations for sacrifice must be pure, “…for My sake and the sake of the Gospel.” In the rewards, Christ slips in “persecutions”, a revelation and warning that suffering will come, but that persecutions will ultimately been seen as blessings (the Cross). Summing things up, Christ confirms “the first” (like the Rich Man) will be last, and “the last” (like the self-sacrificing Apostles) will be first.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ knows the blessings of Heaven and can promise eternal rewards.  Divine Judge, Christ assures that men who willingly sacrifice in His Name will be saved.  Divine King and Divine Mercy, continues to form His disciples and offers consultations to help them grow in commitment.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) The Apostles, though grown men are spiritual children who lack formation and often can’t grasp the reality of being in the presence of God. Marvel at Christ’s merciful patience and perseverance to form mere men into Apostles and Saints.

2) Like the Apostles, men of every age must sacrifice themselves for Christ and the Gospel. Men must make the effort to accept the Sacraments (CCC 1127-1134), live their Lives in Christ (CCC 1691-1698) and engage in Prayer (CCC 2558-2565).  Pray for Christ to help you to sacrifice yourself for Christ and His Gospel.

3) The pace of modern life and the conditioning for instant gratification makes it harder and harder for men to be patient. Grow in your understanding of The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1830-1832) and pray for Christ to send the Holy Spirit to help you grow in patience (and all the Gifts and Fruits).

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 revealing the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the humble childlike, Christ now encounters the opposite: The Rich Man. The Rich Man rushes up and kneels before Christ and asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ, knowing the Rich Man’s soul and sensing a lack of humility and lack of faith, reacts harshly, saying “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone.” Ironically, God is standing right in front of the Rich Man but he cannot see.

Christ then coldly redirects the Rich Man towards the basics: keep the Commandments. To test him, Christ mentions parts of the 10 Commandments that focus only on neighbor (and not God). The arrogant young man falsely claims to have kept “all” these commandments (who keeps “all” the commandments?) but fails to mention God, confirming Christ’s insight about the man’s stunted spirituality. Merciful, Christ directs the Rich Man to give away all his possessions and to “follow Me (God)“, an invitation to give himself completely to God. Attached to his worldliness and possessions and lacking true desire for God, the Rich Man refuses Christ’s invitation and leaves in sadness.

Christ confirms the difficulty of entering Heaven and laments the loss of those with riches, saying, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” First amazed, then astonished and now panicked,  the disciples’ worry about their own fate and ask, “Who then can be saved?”  Christ gazes intently at the disciples with a hint of dismay, perhaps in frustration for their unbelief, and replies, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Prophet, Christ has profound insight into the Rich Man’s heart, immediately seeing that he is failing to seek God. Divine Truth, Christ states hard uncompromising truths that make men uncomfortable.  Divine King, Christ abhors mediocrity and calls all His men to the perfection of sainthood; He deals bluntly with those needing correction. Divine Judge, Christ speaks with authority, disclosing the difficulty of the wealthy to enter Heaven. Divine Teacher, teaches with mysterious irony, blunt statements and memorable metaphors that still intrigue and draw men to Christ’s message.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Some men have profitably cultivated the skill to imperfectly “read people”, picking up their micro-facial expressions and reading body language. Be awed (reverence and fear) by Christ’s supernatural power to perfectly read outer indications and to perfectly read the most minute details of every man’s soul.

2) Men living in modern societies enjoy incredible wealth (like the Rich Man) compared to many billions in the developing world (real poverty) and compared to those Christ called rich. Reflect on the need for Poverty of the Heart (CCC 2544-2547) and pray for Christ to help you battle the desire for riches/comfort and to grow in charity for the poor.

3) The Rich Man’s false arrogant claim to have kept “all the commandments” is because he had a poorly formed moral conscience. Renew your understanding of the Catechism’ teaching on Moral Conscience (CCC 1776-1802), do a rigorous Examine of Conscience and get to Confession as soon as possible.

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 this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ again (Matt 5:19-21) calls men to see beyond the world and to seek through faith and holiness the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ refutes the delusion of a man’s independence, revealing that men must choose to serve the master of the world (i.e. mammon, meaning “trusting in wealth”) or the ultimate Master, God; there is no middle ground, for men are not capable of doing both and must choose.

Christ uses the common worry about having sufficient food, drink and clothing to prove that slavery to the world (mammon) results in unhappiness. He chastises men for their useless worry; even if a man worries about the most important thing (a man’s very life), his worry does not add even a small amount to his lifespan. He points out that birds and grasses are well-cared for by God and, given that men are infinitely more valuable, God knows and will provide for men’s needs.

Christ rebukes men of “little faith” who worry about the necessities of life (e.g. food, drink and clothing), comparing them to faithless pagans. Instead, Jesus challenges men to first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and to be confident that God knows and will provide for His men’s needs. He urges men not worry about tomorrow, for “Sufficient for a day is its own evil.’

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God,  Christ speaks authoritatively about how the Father engages the world and makes promises on the Father’s behalf.  Son of Man, Christ has a perfect knowledge of the dependence, trials and psychology of men.  Divine Teacher, Christ is the masterful orator whose words are still repeated today (e.g. God/mammon, lilies of the field). Divine King, referring to the Spiritual Combat, Christ reveals that men must choose between God and the world.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) The Divine King warns men that they must give themselves to Him completely and exhorts them to have courageous faith. Consider that Christ is saying this directly to you.

2) Christ’s reveals that men cannot serve both God and mammon. Called the Spiritual Combat, men are servants to the Master Christ the King or are slaves to the master of the mammon/the world, Satan. Reflect on the First Commandment (“You shall love the Lord your God…” CCC 2083-2094) and pray to Christ for the faith to give yourself completely to Him.

3) Christ not only commands men to not be anxious, but He gives men the Our Father to help men grow in their trust in God.  Review the Catechism’s teaching on “Give us today our daily bread” (CCC 2828-2837) and pray the Our Father regularly that Christ might help you trust in Him to provide for your daily needs.

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

Having confirmed God’s plan for marriage and condemning divorce, Christ blesses the fruit of physical union (children) and demonstrates the importance of spiritual fatherhood. Fathers and mothers are overwhelmingly drawn to bring their children to Christ to receive His blessing and prayers; it was also a Jewish practice for children to be blessed by a rabbi and for fathers to lay their hands on and bless their children (Gen 27:30; 48:14-16).

The disciples rebuke the parents, attempting to stop them from bringing the children to Jesus. The disciples may have had honorable intentions: the Master was tired; the crowds were too large; others were in more desperate need. More likely, the disciples were being pridefully thick-hearted, thinking that children were below the Master’s dignity. They had forgotten that Christ had recently taught them that to receive a child is to receive Him (Mark 9:36-37); they were pridefully acting like gatekeepers instead of gate-openers.

The disciples’ actions anger Christ and He rebukes them, commanding that the little children are to be brought to Him. Recalling His life with the Father in Heaven, Christ sees in children the spiritual qualities of those in Heaven: joy, poverty, simplicity, humility, obedience, dependency, vulnerability, etc.. In addition to the children being blessed by the Hand of God, Christ demonstrates spiritual fatherhood that all priests and men are called to; men are to  protect, provide and bring children to Christ. Like Christ blesses marriages, Christ blesses the fruit of marriages, laying His holy hands on the children, supernaturally blessing them; He confirms even the youngest are welcome into the Kingdom and lays the foundation for Baptism of infants.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ personally knows the Father and that children need to know Him too. Son of Man, Christ, despite His immense stature and power, has a personality that welcomes parents to present their infants for His blessing. Divine King, Christ issues commands (to bring the children), angrily rebukes the disciples and demonstrates how to be a spiritual father.  Divine Priest, Christ establishes the foundation for infant baptism and confirms the priestly action of the laying on of hands in blessings.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Contrary to the false “gentle Jesus meek and mild” regularly promoted by those who attempt to feminize Him, Christ angrily rebukes His disciples when warranted. Consider your own thoughts and acts than might draw Christ’s righteous and angry rebuke.

2) Christ reveals that men must become humble and childlike to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Reflect on the Father (CCC 2777-2802) and pray for Christ to help you grow in humility and love for the Father.

3) As Christ demonstrates, while some men are biological fathers, every Catholic man is to be a spiritual father. Review the Catechism’s teaching on infant and adult baptism (CCC 1246-1255) and pray for Christ to use you to bring many souls to Him in baptism.

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 Pharisees, as part of their plot to kill Christ, seek to discredit Him on the topic of divorce; Christ’s teaching that divorce is forbidden contradicted Moses’ long-established allowance of divorce. The Pharisees realize that Christ’s position on divorce was the same as John the Baptist’s; by publicizing Jesus’s forbidding of divorce, the divorced Herod may do the Pharisee’s dirty work and kill Christ as he killed John the Baptist.

Christ humiliates the learned Pharisees by exposing their lack of understanding of Scripture by referring to Moses’ own words inspired by God in Genesis (it was held that Moses was inspired to write Genesis) that describes man, woman and marriage and forbids divorce (Gen 2:24); God made two sexes, male and female, and supernaturally binds man and woman together in an unbreakable bond of marriage. He reveals that Moses allowed divorce because of the “hardness” of hearts and that God absolutely forbids divorce, saying “…therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Later, in private, the disciples approach Christ because they are troubled that Christ strictly forbids divorce with no exceptions. Christ does not equivocate, making it clear that not only is divorce forbidden but that men and women who divorce and remarry commit adultery, a mortal sin described in the 6th Commandment of the 10 Commandments.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, with the Father from the beginning, Christ knows Moses’ rationale for the temporary allowance of divorce; on His own authority, Christ forbids divorce, overturning centuries of flawed Jewish practice. Divine King, Christ forcefully rebukes those who attack, decisively destroying their feeble attempts at traps and arguments.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men, seeking to change the world, attempt to speak with authority, citing public opinion, logic, the latest science, emotion or historical precedent; all of these sources of authority come from imperfect humans. Marvel at the boldness of Christ, the only man in history, whose authority is because He is God; Christ is the unalterable Divine Truth.

2) God’s unchanging truth that marriage is the permanent, exclusive union of a man and a woman was rebelled against during the Incarnation and is rebelled against today ( e.g. non-married “partners”, divorce, homosexual “marriage”, polygamous “marriages”, etc). Only the Catholic Church fully upholds Christ’s unchangeable truth about marriage; Catholic men must affirm Christ’s truth of marriage. Review the Church’s teaching on the Sacrament of Matrimony (CCC 1601-1666) and pray that Christ strengthen you to fully accept His truth about marriage and that all people come to accept God’s teaching.

3) Conditioned by a 1st Century Jewish culture that accepted divorce, the disciples were stunned when Christ confirms that those who divorce and remarry commit adultery. Today, adultery is rampant: 40% of marriages are remarriages; 1/3 of marriages experience infidelity. Review the Catechism’s teaching on the 6th Commandment (Thou Shall not Commit Adultery – CCC 2331-2400) and pray for Christ to help you and all people to pursue chastity.

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