The Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the  2nd Week of Advent is Matthew 11:16-19.

After mysteriously announcing to a large crowd that the imprisoned John the Baptist is the new Elijah, and by implication, that He (Christ) is the long-awaited Messiah, Christ rebukes the current generation for their unbelief.

Christ publicly rebukes His enemies (Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians), but uses veiled terms to confound their short-term plans to kill Him. Humiliating them by comparing full-grown men to pouting little children who play yelling games in the marketplace, Christ speaks of His joyous message (“We piped for you…”) that His enemies reject (“you did not dance”) and the Baptist’s call to repentance (“we wailed for you”) that His enemies also reject (“did not mourn”).

Christ reiterates His point about the childish and evil behavior of the Jewish elites by getting specific.  While John is an ascetic who fasts and eats little, the Jewish leaders accuse the Baptist as being possessed by a demon. When Christ does the opposite of John by eating with sinners, the Jewish leaders accuse Him of being a glutton and drunkard (a slanderous lie). Christ ends with this: Wisdom (Jesus Christ Himself is Wisdom) is justified (proven true as the Messiah) by all her children (those who repent, are baptized and follow Christ).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is the Messiah who is Perfect Wisdom.  Divine King, Christ courageously and slyly rebukes the Pharisees for their unbelief in veiled ways that thwarts their efforts to accuse Him. Divine Prophet, Christ uses poetic language that draws on the Old Testament (e.g. personifying Wisdom) and reveals His identity in mysterious ways.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men respect men who have the gift of wisdom; to see what others don’t see, to ponder deeply and to express breakthrough insights. Reflect on the Infinite Wisdom of Wisdom itself, Jesus Christ the Word, who has come into the world for the salvation of men.

2) There are many false Christianities (e.g. the so-called prosperity gospel, nobody goes to Hell, the false mercy of downplaying/accepting sin, etc.) which require little self-examination and no true repentance, while falsely promising all the blessings of Christ. The true Gospel, preserved by His Church, makes is clear that men must repent (“to wail”) to be able to encounter Christ’s joy (“to pipe”). During Advent, review your need for Repentence (CCC 541, 674, 1425-1433, 1889, 1226), examine your conscience, repent, go to Confession and experience the joy of Christ’s Divine Mercy.

3) With abundance of food and a sedentary lifestyle, many men struggle with gluttony. In contrast, St. John the Baptist, like many saints, lived a life of strict mortification, in repentance for his sins and the sins of the world. During Advent, review the Catechism’s teaching on Gluttony and Mortification (CCC 1866, 1430, 2015, 2549) and pray for Christ to help you prepare for His Coming by repenting of your sins and mortifying your cravings.

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  2nd Week of Advent is Matthew 11:11-15.

Responding to the disciples of the imprisoned John the Baptist (imprisoned by King Herod because John denounced Herod’s adulterous “marriage”), Christ quotes the prophesies of Isaiah that confirm He is the Messiah. Christ now exalts John the Baptist as the new Elijah to the crowds and publicly confirms that He (Christ) is the anticipated Messiah.

Christ begins by revealing that John the Baptist, the fierce and bold prophet who lived an austere life in the wilderness, is the greatest man (none greater) who has ever lived; this means that John is on par with all the Old Testament prophets (Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah). John’s greatness is because he is honored to announce Christ and to be among the first to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (John will be murdered by Herod shortly). Christ puts human greatness in perspective; as great as John is on earth, the lowliest saint in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.

Though obscure, Christ seems to refer to the beginning of a new era of Spiritual Combat which men will wage in the age of the Messiah; men will do violent battle with evil and sin to make their way into the Christ’s Kingdom. Christ reveals that John the Baptist is the long-anticipated return of the combative Old Testament prophet Elijah, the one who will announce the Messiah; this is a stunning, for Christ is confirming that He is, indeed, the Messiah.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ has a sweeping view of all Salvation History, knowing the impact and relative importance of all the prophets; He confirms the Kingdom of Heaven.  Divine Prophet, Christ reveals that all Old Testament prophecies are being fulfilled through John the Baptist and His Incarnation. The Messiah, Christ confirms that He is the one long revealed in Scripture.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ, who’s birth is accompanied by a heavenly “host” (Greek: stratia, meaning “army”), awes John the Baptist, the exceptionally manly and combative greatest of men. During Advent, reflect upon our powerful and manly King.

2) Today’s Gospel reading is a special reminder to men, who are naturally endowed by God to fight to protect and defend, to recognize the violent reality of the Spiritual Combat against evil. During Advent, renew your understanding of the Spiritual Combat (CCC 405-409, 1426, 1707, 2015, 2516) and pray for Christ to enlist you in His “host” and strengthen you against the relentless attacks of Satan.

3) Men who enter the Spiritual Combat need brothers in arms, for no man can battle against Satan and the demon horde alone. During Advent, reflect about the power of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to lead you to saints, like John the Baptist, who can strengthen you in the Spiritual Combat.

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 Wednesday of the  2nd Week of Advent is Matthew 11:28-30.

Having revealed the blessings and power the Father has given Him, Christ offers to give peace and joy to men. Christ knows men’s burdens: at one with the Father at Eden, Christ purposefully gave men toil to remind them of their dependence on God (Gen 3:17-19); Christ willingly carries man’s burden through His years as a simple carpenter. In the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, Christ now shows that in Him, men can be reconciled with God and be relieved of their burden.

For relief from the burdens of the world, Christ reiterates His exhortation in the Old Testament for men to pursue Divine Wisdom (Sirach 51) with an incredible revelation: Christ is Wisdom personified! He promises in His Divine Mercy to draw men to Him in gentleness, relieving the suffering of men who seek Him. To seek Him, Christ invites men to come to Him, to learn from Him and to take on His yoke of the Christian life; in this, Christ promises men rest.

Christ’s call to take on His yoke life-changing. The yoke is His yoke, through which men are united with Christ. Christ does not impose His yoke, but gives man free will to give himself to Him. His yoke becomes the vocation of disciples to labor for the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ does not take away our burdens, but helps us carry our duties in the world with joy, realizing that we are contributing in our meager way to His plan of Salvation History. Christ’s yoke is one of complete obedience to Christ in the willing and joyful carrying of our own cross.

Awed by Jesus Christ – Son of Man, Jesus knows the struggles of men and promises them peace. Divine Prophet, Jesus proclaims that Old Testament writings that are hundreds of years old are about Him. Divine Wisdom, Christ reveals that His is Wisdom personified.  Divine Mercy, Christ desires all men to find relief and rest.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Pop psychology, self-help gurus and false religions deceive men into thinking lasting “peace” can be gained with philosophies (humanism), techniques (positive thinking, mindfulness meditations) and gimmicks (walking on coals). Marvel that Christ purposefully incarnates, taking on the work, physical burdens of manhood and death on the Cross; through the Resurrection Christ’s yoke is the only source of lasting peace and eternal salvation.

2) Knowing that men suffer the burdens of the world (overwork, oppression, physical suffering, emotional turmoil) Christ comes into the world to give men peace. During Advent, reflect upon why Christ became Flesh (CCC 456-460) and pray for Christ to fill your heart with joyful anticipation of His Coming.

3) Christ knows that men get out of balance and He wants men to find rest in Him. During Advent, reflect on the Need for Men to Rest (CCC 314, 337, 1193, 1720, 2042, 2172, 2184-2189, 2194) and pray for Christ to help you find balance, a growing rest and peace in Him.

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

The Gospel reading for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Luke 1:39-47.

Mary, having accepted God’s will for her to become the “Mother of God” and informed of her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy, travels for four days (some 80 miles) to the hill country of Judea. There are a number of mysterious echoes of the Old Testament which prefigure Mary’s journey.

Elizabeth is miraculously moved by the Holy Spirit upon Mary’s arrival. Without being told Mary is pregnant (only a few weeks into her pregnancy, Mary does not “show”), Elizabeth recognizes (“Blessed are you…blessed is the fruit of your womb”) Mary’s miraculous conception. Elizabeth is divinely inspired to exalt Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” Mysteriously, Mary’s voice is heard by John the Baptist, still three months away from birth in Elizabeth’s womb, and causes John to leap with joy. Mary responds with her beautiful Magnificat (“My soul doth magnify the Lord”).

In today’s Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Church remembers the Holy Mother’s appearances to Juan Diego in Guadalupe Mexico in 1531.  Our Lady of Guadalupe left a miraculous image of herself on Diego’s cloak (unexplainable by science) which ultimately led to the mass conversion of millions of people to Catholicism and the eradication of the Aztec death cult which offered human sacrifice by slaughtering many thousands of humans each year. Patroness of Americas, Our Lady is venerated at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse Wisconsin.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ even in the earliest stages of gestation in Mary’s womb has a powerful impact on Elizabeth and the unborn John. Divine King, Christ’s presence causes Elizabeth to be the first to recognize Mary’s Queenship (in ancient Jewish culture, the mother of the king was queen). Divine Prophet, Christ inspires mysterious connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While the beautiful devotion of the Rosary has been prayed in some form for 1000 years, the key parts of the “Hail Mary” (“Hail Mary, full of Grace..”, “Blessed are you among women…”) are from words in Luke’s Gospel. Marvel that men still today repeat the words uttered by angels and saints in awe of Christ 2000 years ago.

2) The Blessed Virgin Mother’s appearance to Juan Diego is a purposeful intervention of Our Lady in the lives of men; Our Lady’s appearance led to the conversion of millions to Catholicism and the eradication of human sacrifice in Mexico. During Advent, reflect upon Our Mother in the Order of Grace (CCC 967-970) and pray for Christ to help you grow ever closer to Our Blessed Mother.

3) Many men don’t have a relationship with their Holy Mother. During Advent, reflect upon the Veneration of The Blessed Virgin Mary (CCC 487, 971, 2146, 2673-2379) and pray for Christ to draw you to draw close to and build great love for His Mother.

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

The Gospel reading from the Mass for Thursday of the  2nd Week of Advent is Matthew 11:11-15.

Responding to the disciples of the imprisoned John the Baptist (imprisoned by King Herod because John denounced Herod’s adulterous “marriage”), Christ quotes the prophesies of Isaiah that confirm He is the Messiah. Christ now exalts John the Baptist as the new Elijah to the crowds and publicly confirms that He (Christ) is the anticipated Messiah.

Christ begins by revealing that John the Baptist, the fierce and bold prophet who lived an austere life in the wilderness, is the greatest man (none greater) who has ever lived; this means that John is on par with all the Old Testament prophets (Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah). John’s greatness is because he is honored to announce Christ and to be among the first to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (John will be murdered by Herod shortly). Christ puts human greatness in perspective; as great as John is on earth, the lowliest saint in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.

Though obscure, Christ seems to refer to the beginning of a new era of Spiritual Combat which men will wage in the age of the Messiah; men will do violent battle with evil and sin to make their way into the Christ’s Kingdom. Christ reveals that John the Baptist is the long-anticipated return of the combative Old Testament prophet Elijah, the one who will announce the Messiah; this is a stunning, for Christ is confirming that He is, indeed, the Messiah.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ has a sweeping view of all Salvation History, knowing the impact and relative importance of all the prophets; He confirms the Kingdom of Heaven.  Divine Prophet, Christ reveals that all Old Testament prophecies are being fulfilled through John the Baptist and His Incarnation. The Messiah, Christ confirms that He is the one long revealed in Scripture.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ, who’s birth is accompanied by a heavenly “host” (Greek: stratia, meaning “army”), awes John the Baptist, the exceptionally manly and combative greatest of men. During Advent, reflect upon our powerful and manly King.

2) Today’s Gospel reading is a special reminder to men, who are naturally endowed by God to fight to protect and defend, to recognize the violent reality of the Spiritual Combat against evil. During Advent, renew your understanding of the Spiritual Combat (CCC 405-409, 1426, 1707, 2015, 2516) and pray for Christ to enlist you in His “host” and strengthen you against the relentless attacks of Satan.

3) Men who enter the Spiritual Combat need brothers in arms, for no man can battle against Satan and the demon horde alone. During Advent, reflect about the power of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to lead you to saints, like John the Baptist, who can strengthen you in the Spiritual Combat.

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