After announcing that He is the Messiah in His hometown of Nazareth on the Sabbath and is attacked by a murderous mob, Christ walks 30 miles to Capernaum. In this fishing/agricultural town on the Sea of Galilee that has a population of several thousand, Jesus establishes a base for His Galilean ministry.

Christ teaches in the synagogue on the Sabbath and, in contrast to the closed minds of Nazareth, He astounds men for His “word” has great authority and power. Sensing the Divine and filled with great fear, demons in a possessed man are the first to speak the name of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel, proclaiming Jesus to be “the Holy One of God.”  The demons, with supernatural perception, realize the infinite power of Christ and His ability to destroy them with a word.  Instead, Christ commands them to be silent about His identity and casts them out of the man, who though tossed about, is made well.

The men of the synagogue, who likely had known the torture of the demon-possessed man, are amazed (overwhelming wonder) at the miracle they have witnessed; they see an exorcism up close and the return of the possessed man to health and sanity. Those who witness Christ’s power are so awed by the miracle that they immediately spread the news about Jesus to all the surrounding region.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ has absolute power over Creation, including the demons who fell with Satan and roam the earth. Divine Prophet, Christ is recognized as a teacher who has an amazing ability to authoritatively interpret Scripture. Divine Physician, Christ heals supernatural demon possession with simple commands. Divine King, Christ controls when, where and how His mission will be fulfilled.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  There are many who view Christ as simply a very good teacher or wise man. Reflect on the truth that Christ publicly confirms the reality of demons and demonstrates His supernatural power and dominion to cast out demons; in this, He demonstrates His Divinity.

2) Many moderns scoff at demons, believing that demonic possession is in reality, simply mental or physical illness. Consider that Christ confirms that demons are real and pray for Christ to protect you against the many demons seeking to tempt and possess you.

3) Few Catholic men have a rigorous habit of daily Scripture reading. Pray for Christ to help you to be “amazed”at His Word like those who heard Him teach and commit to study His teachings in Scripture on a daily basis.

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 His Baptism and Temptation in the Judaean desert, Christ begins His public ministry by working His way west, preaching in synagogues and healing the sick; His reputation begins to grow.  Christ returns to His hometown of Nazareth and goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was His custom. With His people Israel and fellow villagers, many of whom He was related to through Mary, Christ will announce that He is the Messiah.

Standing to read Scripture, Christ selects and reads Isaiah’s 700 year-old prophecy of the Messiah who will bring miraculous healing and freedom to those in bondage. Stunned, the crowd watches as Jesus says “this Scripture has been fulfilled”, a declaration that He is the long-awaited Messiah. His people first react well, but skepticism grows as they realize Jesus is Joseph’s son; mysteriously, despite having the Son of God, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph in their midsts for years, the people have failed to recognize Divinity and holiness.

Knowing that His own people will reject Him, Christ rebukes them for their inability to recognize a prophet in their midst. Their anger grows, for by calling Himself a prophet, He has compared Himself to the revered Isaiah. Rebuking them again, Christ reveals that Israel (them!), as in the time of Elijah and Elisha, will not be receive miraculous blessings. The people’s anger explodes into murderous intent, for Christ has rebuked them, compared Himself to two additional heroic prophets and proclaims the hated Gentiles will receive blessings and Israel will not. Christ allows the mob to take Him up on a brow of a hill to throw Him off; in this preview of the violence and murder of Passion Week, Christ’s prophecy of Israel’s rejection and loss of blessing is fulfilled.  As always, Christ is in complete control and mysteriously walks through the vicious mob and leaves.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ speaks with power and authority, announcing His coming as the long-awaited Messiah. He possesses both supernatural and physical power that allows Him to pass through the angry, bloodthirsty crowd. Divine Prophet, Christ has an intimate knowledge of Scripture He inspired His prophets to write and teaches with authority. He rebukes the people of Nazareth for their unbelief.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) As men turn from God and chaos grows in the world, images of frenzied “protest” mobs and violence is routinely broadcast. Marvel at Christ’s mysterious power to “pass through the midst” of a violent mob that is seeking to kill Him.

2) Only a small minority of Catholic men have a habit of prayerfully reading Scripture. Christ, raised by Joseph and Mary to read and memorize Scripture in the synagogue, desires that all Catholic men read and become intimately familiar with Him in Scripture. Pray for Christ to help you imitate His example and heed His call to know the Word made flesh in Scripture.

3) Men, full of testosterone, are prone to verbal and physical violence if they lack a deep inner life centered on Christ.  Commit to a habit of daily prayer, asking Christ to take a “chair” in your heart, to help you constantly seek to do His Will and help you to turn from anger and build the virtue of meekness.

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

NazarethPrecipice

Despite numerous clashes with the Pharisees and their ongoing schemes to trap and kill Him, Christ accepts the invitation for a Sabbath feast from a prominent Pharisee, knowing that many Pharisees are there hoping to catch Him in some error. Omitted in today’s reading (v. 2-6) Christ provocatively asks if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. When the Pharisees refuse to answer, Christ miraculously cures a man with dropsy, justifying His action by asserting that the Pharisees would save their child or oxen who fell into a well on the Sabbath. The Pharisees unable to respond, remain silent.

Christ again attempts to break through the Pharisees’ rigid rules-bound religious myopia after watching them jostling for seats closest to the host to gain honor. He proposes and critiques two seating strategies, asserting that the humble approach is the better. Christ’s summary is a glimpse of the Judgment: he who exalts himself will be humbled (least in the Kingdom of Heaven or, worse, to end up in Hell) and those who humble themselves will be exalted (great in the Kingdom).

Having made a general rebuke to the prideful Pharisees, Christ boldly rebukes and corrects the prominent Pharisee host. Christ directs the man to stop inviting his family and friends to his banquets and to start inviting the poor. Rather than settle for the short-term benefit of getting invited to other banquets, Christ tells the man to aspire to gain the reward of the resurrection.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ asserts His dominion over the Sabbath and reveals the reality of the resurrection and how one can be rewarded. Son of Man, Christ boldly and fearlessly confronts the Pharisees.  Divine King, Christ aggressively and authoritatively directs the murderous Pharisees. Divine Teacher, Christ has a keen eye for men’s behaviors and sins and offers clear direction to help men become holy. Divine Judge, Christ mysteriously reveals one of the criteria (humility) of His Judgment.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men are impressed by heroic men who fearlessly challenge the powerful. Reflect on Christ’s courageous willingness to aggressively confront the Pharisees on their own turf even as they plot to kill Him.

2) Men pridefully seek status, puffing up resumes, bragging about conquests and trash talking. Pray for Christ to awaken you to your own pride “blindspot” and to help you become the humble man He demands you to be.

3) Men seek acclaim by conspicuous giving; being a “gold level donor”, having one’s name show up on contributor’s lists, having one’s name on a wall/building. Pray for a movement of the Spirit to help you more fully embrace Christ’s urging to personally serve the poor.

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 exhorted men to be watchful and prepared for His coming, Christ continues His teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven in The Parable of the Talents by revealing what He expects from from His disciples. Jesus Christ (the master) has entrusted the Gospel (wealth/talents) to His disciples (servants) and expects men to lead others to the Kingdom (return on investment). Christ (the master) gives each man (servant) gifts (talents), each receiving varying (talents of 5, 3, 1) and substantial gifts (a talent is equal to several million in today’s dollars).

Each man (servant) will be called before Christ (the master) to account at the Judgment (master comes to settle accounts). Men (servants) who deliver outstanding results (100% return on talents!) are enthusiastically acknowledged (“Well done”) and rewarded (“enter your Master’s joy”) by Christ (the master) and given more responsibility (“will set you over much”).

Men who fail to offer Christ a return (the servant who buries 1 talent) because of fear of responsibility, stupidity (did not put the talent in the bank) or laziness (slothful) will be harshly rebuked (“wicked”), stripped of responsibility (talent taken away) and cast into Hell(“outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth”).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ offers insights into the mind of God and the future event of Judgment. Divine King, Christ has high expectations for every man to bear fruits with the gifts given and He rewards and punishes men based on their results. Divine Judge, Christ judges men and that some will be rewarded with eternal joy and others with eternal despair.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Many men live as if Catholicism is a low-expectation faith. Reflect on how Christ carefully constructs of this parable to convey His disdain for poor results, His high expectations for men’s fruitfulness and the rewards and punishments He will give in the Judgment.

2) Christ has given every man talents: the gift of life, abilities (functional skills, spiritual gifts, etc.) and resources (financial, material gifts, etc.) Reflect upon and make a list of the gifts with which Christ has blessed you.

3) In this parable, Christ reveals that Catholic men are choosing their eternal destiny every day by how they use their talents. Pray for Christ to reveal how He wants to use your talents to build the Kingdom and commit to take action.

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

After revealing the violent worldwide turmoil and coming judgment of men in Matthew Chapter 24, in the second of three parables, Christ again exhorts men to be morally ready at all times for His coming for He will ultimately judge all men.

After a period of betrothal (married but living apart for a period of time prior to sexual relations), Jewish marriage customs at the time of Christ included the procession from the bride’s house to the groom’s house, often at night with lit torches, for a week-long feast. In the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Maidens, Catholics (10 maidens) wait for Christ (the Bridegroom) to arrive (come again/meet at the Judgment), uncertain when they will meet Christ (die and meet Him or when He will come again). All Catholics are imperfect (fall asleep).

Faithful Catholics (5 wise maidens) hold to the Catholic faith (hold lamps) and store up a reservoir of good works (are prepared with plenty of oil). Causal Catholics (5 foolish maidens) profess faith (hold lamps) but do not yield the fruit of good works (no oil). When Christ does arrive (the Judgment) for the marriage feast (Heaven), Casual Catholics (foolish maidens) who are without sufficient good works (oil) will be rejected by Christ (I do not know you) and not enter (door is shut) Heaven (wedding feast).  Wise men (wise maidens) with good works (oil) will be rewarded with entry into Heaven (wedding feast).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is the Bridegroom for the eternal wedding feast of Heaven. Divine Teacher, Christ constructs memorable parables that build off of everyday life to teach and remember key spiritual truths. Divine Judge, Christ is the “gatekeeper” of Heaven and will allow the faithful to enter and the unfaithful will be turned away.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  Some like to argue that there is a reasonable hope that all men are saved.  Reflect on this (and many other) teachings of Christ that confirm that He will exclude many from Heaven. Heaven is not a “gimme.”

2) Because the reality of the Beatific Vision of God in Heaven is impossible to fully grasp, it is rarely discussed in many parishes. Give thanks that Christ offers a glimmer of Heaven as a spectacular and joyful wedding feast, an image that men can imagine and aspire to.

3) In these dark days of sexual promiscuity, many mock the idea of chastity and virginity. Be strengthened in the battle for chastity by Christ’s Parable of the Maidens which features virginity (maidens), chaste relations (betrothal) and the celebration of marriage.

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