The Gospel reading from the Mass for Saturday of the 15th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 12:14-21.

After being humiliated by Christ’s rebukes for their evil attacks (Matt 12:1-13), the cowardly Pharisees, unwilling to engage Christ in honest debate, are filled with venomous anger and take “counsel” with themselves and scheme in secrecy to “utterly destroy” (Greek) Jesus.  Mysteriously knowing their secret schemes, Christ withdraws, not in failure or cowardice, but in the fullness of power of the Son of Man to pick when and where He will achieve His Passion.

Rather than hiding, Christ continues to establish His Kingdom by drawing a large following and mercifully healing of all who seek Him. Unlike the attention-seeking of the prideful Pharisees, Christ demonstrates humility by forbidding His disciples from making Him known, temporarily avoiding the worldwide proclamation of the Gospel.

Matthew’s reference to Isaiah’s 700 hundred year-old prophecy is powerful assurance of Christ’s total victory. Remarkably, “servant” can also be translated as “son”, a reference to the Son of God who becomes the “Suffering Servant”. God’s voice, speaking through Isaiah, calls the servant “beloved”, the same word the Father says about the Son in the Baptism and the Transfiguration.  Christ’s withdrawal, rather than defeat, is a preparation for the expansion of His Kingdom to all nations (i.e. the Gentiles).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ omnisciently knows the hidden murderous intent of the Pharisees and effortlessly withdraws to safety, postponing the confrontation with the Pharisees until it suits Him (Matt 23). The Perfection of Virtue, Christ demonstrates prudence and temperance (restraint, patience) in His interactions with the Pharisees. The Divine Prophet, Christ not only inspires Isaiah to speak about Him, He fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy. Divine Physician, Jesus heals all who seek His Mercy.  Divine King, Jesus expands His Kingdom beyond the Chosen People to all people.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Seven hundred years ago is a long, long time; for perspective, 700 years ago the world was the Middle Ages. Re-read Isaiah’s 700 year-old prophecy about Christ from today’s Gospel and marvel at how perfectly He fulfills the prophecy He inspired Isaiah to write. Christ fulfills all prophecy (CCC 601, 652, 713).

2) Like the Pharisees, many men falsely believe their “private” thoughts and behaviors are actually private; they are not. Reflect on Christ’s absolute omniscience and knowledge of each man’s Private Lives (CCC 473, 682) and pray for Christ to help you to do a thorough Examination of Conscience. Go to Confession to confess mortal and venial sins.

3) In the Spiritual Combat, Satan relentlessly attacks Catholic men, seeking to provoke them into losing battles (e.g. arguing with evil internet trolls, debating with better-prepared atheists, emotionally and/or violently responding to evil injustice, etc.); Satan purposefully uses these tactics to discourage or draw men into evil reactions.  Reflect on Christ’s prudent temporary withdrawal and pray for Him to give you patience and wisdom to know when to fight and when to withdraw.

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 Gospel reading from the Mass for The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene is John 20:1-2, 11-18.

In the pre-dawn hours of Easter morning, Mary Magdalene (being of the town of Magdala), who witnessed Christ’s Crucifixion (John 19:25) and burial in the tomb, returns to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body with spices (Luke 24:2); Mary had great devotion for Christ had cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2). Finding the stone rolled away, seeing the tomb empty and thinking Christ’s body has been stolen, Mary runs back to the Upper Room and alerts Peter and John; running to the tomb, they find Christ’s burial cloths and return home beginning to believe.

Mary Magdalene remains alone at the tomb. Weeping, she stoops to look in and finds that two angels have now miraculously appeared. When they ask why she is weeping, Mary, astonishingly unafraid, repeats that she believes Christ’s body has been stolen. Immediately, Mary turns and sees Jesus but does not recognize Him, even when He first speaks. When Mary asks Christ to return His own dead body, Christ calls Mary by name, she immediately recognizes Him as “Rabbouni” (my teacher and master) and falls to the ground, grasping His feet in adoration (Matt 28:9). Mysteriously, Christ orders Mary to stop holding on to Him and instructs her to go and tell the Apostles that He is alive and returning to the Father.

After the Ascension of Christ, tradition holds that St. Mary Magdalene remained with the Christians in Jerusalem for a number of years until she was set adrift in a boat on the Mediterranean without a sail or oars by Jewish leaders who wished to crush Christianity. She came ashore in France and lived for many years, evangelizing many and living in poverty in a cave. St. Mary continues to be venerated at the Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene in St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume France and is the patroness of converts, repentant sinners, sexual temptation and women.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is resurrected from the dead with a glorified body with the mysterious ability to disguise His appearance; He is attended to and commands angels. Divine King, Christ is adored by those who follow Him and issues commands and guides His disciples. Counter to 1st century religious practices which were led by men, Christ first appears to a female.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at the stunning ability of Christ to disguise His glorified body (CCC 645-646, 659) so that even His close disciples can not recognize Him.

2) Mary Magdalene demonstrates absolute awe and gratitude as she falls on her face and grasps the Risen Christ’s feet. Reflect on the Adoration of Christ (CCC 2096, 2628) and make a commitment to regularly spend time kneeling in adoration of Christ in the presence of the Eucharist.

3) In busyness and distractions of the world, men forget about the powerful champions Christ has given men in the Saints. Renew your understanding of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to help you to be strengthened by your patron Saint(s) (CCC 2165, 2156) and those Saints who can help you prevail over your life challenges.

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 Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the 15th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 12:1-8.

After promising rest for the burdened (Matt 11:28-29), Christ now turns to the importance of the Sabbath as a day of rest and mercy. Christ is directly accused by the Pharisees for breaking the law because His disciples plucked grain to eat on the Sabbath. The Pharisees, in their self-reliant attempts to achieve holiness to gain God’s favor, had extended the ritual laws of Moses that forbid harvesting grain on the Sabbath to include even plucking grain by the hungry.

Christ humiliates (“Have you not read”) the prideful Pharisees with a harsh rebuke that exposes their lack of understanding of Scripture by offering two examples (i.e. David’s men ate showbread; priests were guiltless for handling the bread of Presence). Remarkably, Christ offers a sign of His Eucharist in this encounter by references to grain/bread: the plucking of grain; the mention of showbread and priests who profane (a reference to the bread of Presence). Christ further humiliates the Pharisees for their lack of Scripture knowledge by quoting, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” and also rebukes them for their false condemnation of His disciples.

Christ mysteriously disclosures His Divinity in this encounter. His assertion that “something greater than the Temple is here” is a history upending claim.  The Jewish belief was that the Temple housed God Himself and the ritual sacrificial system in the Temple that relieved sin dated back over a thousand years to Moses. Christ makes another shocking proclamation of His Divinity: “The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath.”

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ is the author of God’s laws passed down in Scripture. Son of God, Christ asserts His Divinity.  Divine Prophet, Christ teaches through powerful events which reveal the astonishing truth of the Eucharist and the ending of Jewish religious practices that stood for over a thousand years. Divine King and Teacher, Christ speaks with authority, rebuking the powerful Pharisees and correcting their misinterpretation of Scripture.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While Christ is Divine Mercy, He was also tough-minded and combative when confronting evil or falsehood and fearless in His public rebuke of the powerful. Be impressed by Christ’s powerful and combative character.

2) The Church calls all Catholics to draw close to Christ in the Eucharist on Sunday. Recall that Catholics are obligated (i.e. must do to avoid a state of mortal sin – CCC 2181) to attend Mass every Sunday (CCC 2041, 2177-2183) and commit to never fail in your Sunday obligation to Christ.

3) For many, Sunday is only a weekend day of relaxation or another work day. Reflect on the 3rd Commandment and the need to Keep Sunday Holy (CCC 2168-2176, 2184-2188) and pray for Christ to help you always set aside Sunday to honor and serve Him.

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 15th Week of Ordinary Time 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) The age of the Internet has made huge amounts of human knowledge (and perversion) available to all. Realize in Christ is infinite Wisdom, infinitely exceeding the mind-boggling information found on the Internet, encompassing the knowledge of God that exceeds His Creation.  Be awed.

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. Reflection upon why Christ became Flesh (CCC 456-460) and give praise and glory to the Father for sending the Son.

3) Some couples go through tough times when their marriage can seem like an unbearable burden. Reflect on Marriage in the Lord (CCC 1612-1617) and pray for Christ to strengthen and fill all Catholic marriages with peace and joy.

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 15th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 11:25-27.

After severely rebuking and condemning the unrepentant cities (Matt 11:20-24), Christ now prays to the Father, offering to all men a privileged glimpse into the intimacy of the Trinity and contrasts the arrogance and disobedience of the unrepentant “wise” with the the men of good will who obediently give themselves to Christ like innocent children and who receive the wisdom and blessings of the Father.

In just a few short lines, Christ’s prayer to the Father is a powerful blessing that reveals the closeness of the Father and the Son. He reveals the perfect love between the Father and the Son. He reveals His perfect obedience to and reverence for the Father. He expresses His heart-deep thanks for His Father’s blessings. He acknowledges the power the Father has given Him in the world. He confirms the Father’s dominion over Creation.

Christ’s prayer also reveals how men can draw closer to God. Through His example, Christ demonstrates how men can speak with God. He reveals that through the Father’s gracious will, God is hidden from the arrogant (self-proclaimed “wise”) and revealed to the innocent (infants); that only through humble obedience and dependence can men be open to receiving Christ’s Wisdom. To receive Wisdom, He reveals that the only way to God the Father is through the Son.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ reveals glimpses of the relationship of the Father and the Son. Son of God, Christ asserts that God has the power to influence the lives of men and does so. Almighty King, Christ reveals that only through Him can men be drawn to the Father.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is perfectly united with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Marvel at how Christ generously has allowed you to get a glimpse of His closeness to the Father in today’s reading.

2) Remarkably, Christ offers men a chance to see His love for the Father in prayer. Reflect upon Christ’s Prayer (CCC 2603, 2701) and pray for Christ to help you pray with praise and gratitude and that you might more perfectly do the will of the Father.

3) The presumption in the pluralistic society is that all religions and equally valid and all lead to God. Christ says otherwise: “no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him”(v. 27). Reflect upon the the truth that Outside the Church theres is no Salvation (CCC 846-848) and pray that Christ to make you an instrument to evangelize many souls.

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