Following Christ’s teaching in Mark about the necessity of being dependent on God like a little child (Mark 10:13-16), Jesus encounters the opposite:  The Rich Young Man.  Eager, the Young Man runs and shows respect to Jesus by kneeling. The Young Man claims to understand and practice the the law (10 Commandments), but he zealously believes he must do something more to gain eternal life.

The Young Man lacks a reliance on God and Jesus immediately points to God, saying “No one is good but God alone.” Ironically, the Young Man is speaking directly to God but does not know it. To test the Young Man, Jesus mentions parts of the 10 Commandments that focus only on neighbor (and not God). The Young Man claims to have kept these commandments but fails to mention God.

Jesus gazes at the Young Man with the love of God, but the Young Man fails to realize it.  Jesus then says the “one thing” that the Young Man must do is to give away all his possessions and to “follow Me“, an invitation to give himself completely to God. Again failing to see that Eternal Life is standing right in from of him, the Young Man refuses God’s invitation and leaves in sadness.

Jesus does not denounce wealth, but warns that it is nearly impossible for the wealthy to enter Heaven; like the Young Man, they become blinded by their possessions and cling to the comfort of wealth rather than relying exclusively on God.  The disciples are astonished for several reasons: the stark realization that many will not get to Heaven; that they too have still relied on wealth; they have not yet come to the point of absolute dependence on God. Christ tells them their only hope is to rely completely on God’s Mercy.

Awed by Jesus Christ – Jesus, Divine Mercy, looks at the Young Man with love.  Jesus, Divine Prophet, has profound insight into the Young Man’s heart, immediately seeing that he is failing to seek God.  Jesus, Divine Teacher, teaches with mysterious irony, blunt statements and memorable metaphors that still intrigue and draw men to Christ’s message.  Jesus, Divine Judge, reveals that many will not get to Heaven, but that in the Divine Power of God “all things are possible.”

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Often men are passive in the faith, thinking that refraining from “grave” sin is sufficient.  It is not; not doing bad things is not the same as doing good things. Christ calls men to the perfection of love by giving one’s self fully to God and neighbor.  How can you actively seek God and serve neighbor today?

2) The path to Heaven is found by an absolute commitment to “follow” Christ.  Pray for a greater commitment to follow Christ and choose several ways to take action on your Christ commitment.

3) Many Catholic men spend indulgently themselves while being miserly to the poor and the Church.  Christ challenges the Young Man to give away everything; what is Christ challenging you to do? Resolve and take steps to give more to the poor and the Church.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

 

In this portion of Christ’s Sermon on the Plain, Jesus focuses on the need for each man to zealously examine his own thoughts and behaviors and to strive for perfection.

Jesus warns His disciples about false teachers who are “blind” and who will lead their followers to the destruction of the “pit”, perhaps an allusion to Hell.  Men must be carefully discern who they follow and to seek to be well taught.

Christ rebukes those hypocrites (literally actor or pretender) who are blindly mired in sin and who focus on judging others. Instead, Christ instructs men to rigorously examine their own numerous faults (the log in their eye) and to seek perfection, gently helping others as they grow in holiness.

He then describes the holiness that men are to achieve; the fruit of goodness that comes from a man’s heart who is compelled to serve his brothers.  Christ also warns those whose hearts are evil, hearts that fail to produce fruit and only produce thorns and rotten fruit.

Implicit in the teaching that a man will be known by his fruit, is the inevitability that each man will be judged by the words and deeds that proceed from his heart.

Awed by Jesus Christ – Jesus, the Divine Teacher, gathers together disciples for catechesis; His Word continues to inspire men two thousand years later.  Jesus, the Divine Judge, has a blunt take and a clear rebuke for those hypocrites who judge others and gives men the criteria by which each man will be judged:  Did he bear good or rotten fruit?

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) It is common for men to outwardly or inwardly assess and judge the faults of others. Consider how you have judged others recently.

2) Christ rebukes those who judge others and insists that a man rigorously assess his own sinfulness.  Make a rigorous examination of conscience focusing on how you have judged others this week and go to Confession.

3) Holy hearts bear holy fruit. Each man will be judged by his fruit. Are you bearing good fruit or rotten fruit.  Repent, and make a commitment to pray each morning and do an examine of conscience before going to bed.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

 

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Following Christ’s clear reiteration of God’s plan for Creation with men and women united in indissoluble marriage (Mark 10:1-12), He turns to the need to protect and bless children, the fruit of marriage.

Aware that some disciples were stopping the children from coming to Him, Christ becomes indignant (displeasure, objecting to a lack of dignity) and corrects His disciples.  In a time where children were disposable, Christ asserts the inherent dignity of children by stating that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children.  In this, Christ lays the foundation for infant baptism.

Going further, Christ teaches that children are a model for those who aspire to Heaven; the blessed attributes of children include their humility, dependency on the grace of others, the lack of worldly merit, simple faith and trust.  Jesus

Awed by Jesus Christ – Jesus, the Divine Teacher, overturns the cultural norm that devalued children.  As Divine Leader and Protector, Jesus displays His anger at the disciples’ abuse of children and rebukes them.  Jesus, in Divine Love and Mercy, embraces the children with a fatherly love and blesses them.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) In today’s feminized culture, a false Jesus Christ who is all mercy and no truth is promoted; it is politically correct to downplay His Divine Masculinity (protector, provider, leader, risk taker, combativeness, etc.). Commit to read scripture more with the goal of meeting the Perfect Man.

2) As in Roman times, many children today are abused (even murdered through abortion), neglected and abandoned due to a lack the protection and fatherly love of men. Pray for Christ’s love of children to be embraced by all people.

3) Boys and young men are particularly neglected in society because large numbers lack the love of a father. Consider how you can grow in your role as a father (even if you don’t have sons of your own).

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

 

In Mark 10:1-12, Jesus enters Judea for the first time since His baptism, now moving towards the Passion.  Christ’s reputation precedes Him, attracting large crowds.

The Pharisees, alarmed at Christ’s growing popularity, publicly confront Him, asking  “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”  This is clearly meant to be a trap: for over a thousand years since the time of Moses, Jews were allowed to divorce (Deut 24:1-4).  The Pharisees likely knew that Jesus opposed divorce from His earlier teaching (Matt 5:31-32).

Jesus, the Son of God, now questions the Pharisees and they point to Moses as allowing divorce.  Jesus boldly asserts that Moses only allowed divorce because of the hardness of the heart.  Further, Jesus turns to Genesis and getting back to the foundations of God’s plan: God created male and female (Gen 1:27) for an insolvable union in marriage (Gen 2:24).

Later, to His disciples, Jesus unequivocally denounces divorce, teaching that whoever divorces and remarries commits adultery.

Awed by Jesus Christ – Jesus, the Divine Teacher, has an indisputable charisma, drawing crowds wherever He goes and is seen as a powerful threat to the Pharisees’ vision of Judaism. With Omniscience that transcends time, Jesus reveals the motivations of Moses; with Divine Authority, Jesus corrects both the Pharisees and Moses’ actions by reasserting marriages cannot be dissolved and those who divorce are in adultery.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) From the beginning, Christ reminds humans that God created two sexes; male and female.  Today’s gender ideology fantasizes that one’s sexuality is based on choice, not biology, and that men can be women and women can be men.  Pray that Christ leads the world to return to His truth.

2) Christ teaches that God’s plan for marriage between one man and one woman.  The same gender ideology has succeeded in imposing laws about homosexual “marriage.”  Again, pray for Christ to lead the world to return to His truth about marriage.

3) There are some, even in the Church, who deny Christ’s clear teaching about divorce and adultery, proposing that divorced and remarried Catholics who are in a permanent state of unrepentant adultery can receive the Eucharist.  Pray for Christ to return the Church to His truth.

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

Read the Bible in a Year – (insert reading)

Read the Catechism in a Year – (insert reading)

In Mark 9:41-50, Jesus makes it crystal clear about how much He hates sin. While Christ loves His Creation, He reveals the existence of Hell (Gehenna) where those who die in unrepentant sin are sent. Gehenna was well known to His audience: a ravine near Jerusalem, it was where idolatrous Israelites performed child sacrifice (Jer 7:31) that was during Jesus’ time a garbage dump for festering dead animals that was perpetually burning.  Christ describes Hell as an unquenchable fire where one is tormented by undying worms (Isa 66:24).

Who does Christ send to Gehenna? Those who lead the vunerable to sin. Those who gravely sin with their acts (hands, feet) and in their imaginings (their eyes).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ uses the  similar strong words to condemn sexual sin directed at men, teaching that sexual thoughts about a woman (not a wife) is adultery, and using hyperbole to avoid adultery (gouging out one’s eye, cutting off one’s hand, a reference to masturbation) (Matt 5:27-30).

As an alternative to sin and damnation, Christ offers His followers examples of loving behaviors: kindness to the vunerable; speaking to others with truth and clear communication (reference to salt).

Awed by Jesus Christ – Jesus, the Divine Teacher, speaks with forceful clarity about sin and how to avoid it. As Divine Judge, Jesus warns of the torment of Hell and makes it clear that men are sent there. Jesus has the Power to save and condemn men.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man
1) Many today, even in the Church, either deny or downplay the reality of Hell. Jesus makes it clear the Hell is real and it is horrific. Evil atrocities are a daily feature in the media; reflect on the truth that the worst evil on earth is nothing compared to eternal Hell.

2) Jesus uses harsh words to warn men to avoid sin, words that are applicable to the sin of viewing pornography and masturbation. Reflect on the gravity of these sexual sins and resolve to battle temptation. Go to Confession if needed.

3) Jesus wants men to live good lives and to join Him in Heaven. Think about a couple of ways to please your King today. Now, make it happen.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers
Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries
Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist
Virtue of the Day – Fortitude