After preaching about the need for men to pray with perseverance and promising that God will answer prayers, Christ demonstrates the power of God by miraculously casting a demon out of a mute man. While the people marvel, some murmured among themselves, absurdly accusing Christ as colluding with Beelzebul; “Beelzebul” was a derogatory term (“Lord of Dung”) used by the Jews for the false god of the Philistines, who in reality is Satan.  With this slur, the scoffers attempt to denigrate both the miracle and the Son of Man. Others seek to test Christ further asking for a “sign from Heaven.”

Christ, with omniscience, knows their hidden evil thoughts and decisively rebukes them. Revealing the absurdity of their murmured charge, Christ exposes their illogical accusation by pointing out that Satan does not attack Satan. Turning their attack back on His accusers, Christ demonstrates that their own (your sons) purport to cast out demons and so, using their attack, must also be in league with Satan.

Christ mysteriously reveals His divinity and His triumph in the Spiritual Combat. Satan (strong man), who is powerful (strong, has amor), guards those he has corrupted (his goods) by enticements to sin.  Christ (One stronger) assails (casts out demons) and disarms Satan (takes away armor), setting sinners free to be judged (divided) by Christ. Christ warns that every man must choose to be either with Christ or against Christ (and with Satan). Men who have been liberated by Christ of sins/demons, must give themselves fully to Christ or, in their emptiness, be repossessed by sin/demons.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ confirms the existence and evil action of Satan in the world and some of the behaviors of demons who prowl the world. Christ is omniscience and “knows” the thoughts of men. Omnipotent, Christ’s miracles reveal that in Him is the “finger of God.”  Divine King, Christ rebukes His would-be attackers and challenges men to choose sides; either the Kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of Satan. He easily exposes the lack of logic in the minds of His enemies. Divine Teacher, Christ reveals truths about the demonic using memorable examples (“the strong man”).

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  Since Eden, men’s sinfulness has been exploited by Satan to tempt them to rebel against God. Be awed by Christ’s absolute and embarrassing rebukes of rebellious men and His complete domination of Satan.

2) Men are built for combat and Christ uses militaristic (strong man, armor, spoils, etc.) terms to call men to the Spiritual Battle (or Spiritual Combat).  During Lent, recommit to the Spiritual Battle (CCC 405-409, 1426, 1707, 2015, 2516) and pray for Christ to arm and protect you against the relentless attacks of Satan.

3) Christ reveals that “He who is not with Me is against Me”; would Christ say that you are with Him? During Lent, pray for Christ to convert your heart and give you the Grace to be 100% “with Him.”

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

Having described the great blessings of the Beatitudes and the need for men to be enthusiastic evangelists, Christ continues the Sermon on the Mount, a summary of the New Covenant. Preparing for the fuller revelation of the New Covenant which will expand beyond simple outer compliance to the 10 Commandments to a radical conversion of the heart to love, Christ authoritatively confirms the New Covenant builds upon and encompasses the foundation of the Old Covenant.

Remarkably, Christ starts by revealing that He is the fulfillment (i.e. to make complete) of the Law and the Prophets, which is a shorthand reference for the entire Old Testament. He clearly and adamantly confirms the details of the Law, saying not the “smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter” of the Law will be ignored; the perfection Christ is calling men to is an impossibly high standard. As Christ will reveal, only the Divine Mercy of God will allow men to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christ reveals He has an intimate knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven, knowing the hierarchy that exists (greater and lesser), the criteria by which men are judged (righteousness) and even those who will not be accepted into Heaven (The Pharisees and those who are less righteous).  Christ calls all men to honor the Commandments and places great responsibility on those who teach to teach the fullness of the Commandments or face the consequences.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ speaks with the authority, revealing that He is the fulfillment of the Old TestamentDivine Prophet, Christ reinforces the Law and Prophets of the Old Covenant and warns the Pharisees and scribes that their righteousness is insufficient to gain Heaven.  Divine Judge, Christ, having first hand knowledge of Heaven and the Power and Wisdom to judge men’s souls, confirms some are excluded from Heaven.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) As a Person of the Trinity, Christ establishes the unbending truth of the 10 Commandments, sets the standards of righteousness and explicitly makes it clear that many won’t make it to Heaven. Be awed by Christ’s ominous power and wisdom.

2) Secular governments enacting laws which directly contradict the 10 Commandments; sadly, many in the Church are seeking to “relax” the Law by promoting false mercy. During Lent, renew your understanding of Christ’s perfection of the Law (CCC 577-582, 1965-1986) and pray for Christ to help you to become righteous.

3) It is impossible to win a game (e.g. be accepted into Heaven) if you are ignorant of the rules (10 Commandments – CCC 2052-2082, Precepts of the Church – CCC 2041-2043). During Lent, do a daily Examination of Conscience (CCC 1385, 1454) using the 10 Commandments (there are readily available guides in most parishes) and pray for Christ to fully convert your heart to seek His Kingdom.

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 Christ grants the power to forgive sins (“bind and loose”) to the disciples, Peter, continuing to show why Christ chose him to be the leader of the Church, asks for clarity about the limits of forgiveness; Christ’s reply, “70 times 7”, means unlimited forgiveness. Elsewhere, Christ reveals that a man’s own forgiveness depends on his willingness to forgive (The Lord’s Prayer : “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”) and Christ demonstrates the infinite magnitude of forgiveness from the Cross (“Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do”).

Stressing the forgiveness imperative, Christ offers the parable of The Unmerciful Servant. A King (Christ) has riches and power so immeasurable that one of His servants owes Him several billion dollars (10,000 talents in today’s values/200,000 years labor!).  The King’s reckoning of accounts (an allusion to the Judgment) requires that the servant, his whole family and all his possessions must be sold in partial payment of his infinite debt. In desperation, the slave kneels and begs, desperately promising to pay his impossible debt. The King, viscerally moved by the servant’s repentant plea, forgives the servant’s entire debt.

The newly freed servant, forgetting forgiveness, encounters a fellow servant who owes him several thousand dollars (100 denarii/about three months wages). Despite the small level of debt, he chokes the man, demanding payment. The second servant, as did the first, fell to his knees and begged for time to pay his entire debt. Instead of mercy, the first casts the second servant into prison.  Fellow servants report the injustice to the King who confronts the evil servant, rebuking him for his lack of mercy and turning him over to the jailers (literally, “torturers”) until the entire debt is paid, an impossibility (an allusion to the eternal torture of Hell).  Christ confirms: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ describes His Kingdom, Authority and insights into how He rules. Divine Mercy, Christ describes the infinite mercy that God is willing to show the repentant. Divine Teacher, Christ gives a powerful parable that gives deep insight and sticks in the mind. Divine Judge, Christ offers a veiled preview of the Judgment that awaits all, including allusions to the horror of Hell.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) In the parable of The Unmerciful Servant, Jesus gives a mysterious “God’s eye” view of God’s infinite Mercy but also His perfect Justice.  Reflect on God’s willingness to forgive the immense sins of repentant sinners and the just punishment unrepentant sinners will face.

2) Through His Catholic Church (CCC 981-987, 2842-2845) Christ will forgive the gravest sin, absolutely (i.e. Absolution) in the Sacrament of Confession. During Lent, conduct a rigorous Examination of Conscience, repent in your heart, go to Confession and experience Christ’s Divine Mercy.

3) Feelings of resentment, anger, disgust, ridicule, condemnation, revenge, etc. are all signs that a man has failed to forgive those who “trespassed against us.” During Lent, make a list of those you have not forgiven (even back to childhood), go to the Tabernacle and pray for Christ to send His Holy Spirit to help you forgive your “brothers (and sisters) from your heart.”

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

As His reputation continues to grow, Christ returns to Nazareth to reveal Himself. A Nazarene who speaks Aramaic with a Nazarene accent, Christ desired that His own people of Nazareth would come to Him. As He teaches in the synagogue, He proclaims that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah. While the people are first impressed, they begin to wonder about the source of Christ’s great wisdom. Their skepticism begins to grow as they recall that Jesus is the Son of Joseph (and Mary). 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.

In their hardness, the people are offended and reject God in their midst; they have disbelief, not just little faith. Christ, with sorrow and amazement at their lack of faith, condemns their disbelief (“a prophet is not without honor…”). He condemns their sinfulness, referring to Old Testament examples (Elijah, Elisha) of when God’s miracles were given to Gentiles, while Israel was shunned because of unfaithulness.

Quickly, His own people of Nazareth go from being impressed to murderous. Christ allows the people to freely choose to condemn themselves; they drag Christ out of the city to a cliff and prepare to throw Him to His death. Always in control, Christ passes through the midst of the murderous crowd and departs, a demonstration of His mysterious personal power; it is unclear if Christ simply intimidates the mob with His powerful personality or if He performs a miracle.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ speaks with power and authority; He demonstrates mysterious power that can intimidate a murderous mob. Christ Divine Mercy, Christ is mysteriously willing to remain hidden and to patiently accept rejection by His Creation, including those from His hometown. Divine Prophet, Christ rebukes the people of Nazareth for their unbelief.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Rather than the weak and feminized Jesus so often portrayed, Christ is a manly and intimidating figure who can strike fear in men and can make a murderous crowd back down.  Be awed.

2) The men of Nazareth refused to believe in Christ.During Lent, review the Church’s teaching about belief in the Creed (“I believe” – CCC 144-184) and pray for Christ to give you an unshakeable faith.

3) Today’s Gospel reference to St. Joseph reminds of the need for all Catholic men to have a devotion to St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Church and of fathers. During Lent, pray to St. Joseph, asking for his intercession on your behalf to Christ the King.

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

Returning from Judea, Christ purposefully travels through Samaria to evangelize the Samaritans, a semi-pagan people with Jewish roots who were held in contempt by Israel. After the Assyrian exile of Israel, Jews left behind intermarried with five pagan tribes and worshiped Baal (“lord”, “husband”), with worship practices that combined Jewish and pagan elements. Christ travels to Samaria to demonstrate His universal call to conversion of all people and prepare the disciples to evangelize the whole world.

Christ, tired and thirsty after walking many miles, rests in the heat of the day by Jacob’s well. The Samaritan woman is an outcast shunned by other women, perhaps due to her dissolute life of serial marriages, comes alone at the hottest part of the day to draw water where Christ waits. Christ, breaking all norms (men don’t talk to strange women, Jews avoid Samaritans, rabbis do not speak with fallen women), engages the woman with supernatural insights into her life (married five times and now in an adulterous relationship), teaches her of the Father and the Spirit and ultimately reveals that He is the long-awaited Messiah. First reluctant, the Samaritan woman experiences a conversion, calling Him, in turn, “sir”, “prophet”, “Christ” and “Savior of the World.” Convinced, the woman leaves and returns with many from the village who are also converted.

Returning from the village with food, the disciples are shocked to find Christ speaking with a Samaritan woman but are afraid to discuss it with Him. Responding to the disciples’ concern about His hunger, Christ says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work”; the “work” is to go into the world and “harvest” souls for eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Demonstrating the rich yield of a whole Samaritan town brought to God, Christ both exhorts the disciples about the urgent need to evangelize the world and demonstrates how to do so.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ has supernatural understanding of the Samaritan woman. Divine Bridegroom, symbolically converts the Samaritan woman (to be His Bride, the Church) at the well where Jacob encountered his bride, Rachael. Divine Prophet, Christ acts in shocking ways to draw souls and form His disciples for their mission. Son of Man, Christ accepts thirst, hunger, weariness and all forms of suffering.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at how Christ magnificently uses the physical need for water (thirst) at a well to teach the truth of deeper human need for the “living water” of eternal life in the Holy Spirit (CCC 694, 2557,2560-2561).

2) During Lent, recall the spectacular Graces freely given to you in the Sacrament of Baptism (CCC 1262-1277) and pray for Christ to help you renew and live up to your Baptismal vows each day.

3) During Lent, reflect upon the Holy Spirit (CCC 683-747) and pray for Christ to send the Holy Spirit so you can grow in faith, hope and charity.

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