After Christ’s sharp rebukes of the Apostles for their failure to think deeply and to understand the implications of Christ’s many miracles and teaching, they arrive at Bethsaida (the home of Peter, Andrew and Phillip) after crossing the Sea of Galilee. People bring a blind man to Christ and beg Him to touch him, believing Christ has the miraculous power to give sight to the blind.

Christ’s healing of the blind man at Bethsaida is unique in all the Gospel accounts, for Christ heals the man in two stages; all other miracles are immediate and complete. Taking the blind man by the hand and leading him out of the village, Christ puts the man at ease as He recently did with the deaf man (7:33). After putting spittle in the blind man’s eyes (in those days, saliva was thought to have healing powers) and laying His hands upon him, the man’s sight is partially restored. In the first stage of the healing, Christ asks if the man can see; given the man’s ability to identify men and trees, the man was not born blind.

In the second stage of healing, Christ completes the miracle by again putting His hands on the man’s eyes, giving him clear vision; the former blind man  “looks intently” and sees “everything clearly.” Though mysterious, Christ’s decision to restore the blind man’s sight in two stages perhaps allows the man to adjust to the miracle; it may also reflect that faith often grows in stages. Christ directs the man to go directly to his home and avoid the village, allowing the man to quietly enjoy his eyesight and to reflect upon the miraculous encounter with God.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is widely recognized as having supernatural powers. Divine King, people offer great deference, begging Him to intervene in desperate situations.  Divine Physician, Christ has the ability to restore sight to the blind.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Reread today’s Gospel and imagine you are a witness to the miraculous healing of the blind man. Be awed.

2) Christ rebukes the Apostles’ lack of engagement which left them blind and deaf to His miracles and teaching (Mark 8:17-18); Christ is asking the Apostles to meditate (“to think over, reflect”).  Review the Church’s teaching on Meditative Prayer (CCC 2705-2708) and learn about the ancient practice of Lectio Divina (Divine Reading); pray for Christ to help you draw closer to Him through ever greater prayerful meditation on Sacred Scripture.

3) In the Incarnation (“to be made flesh”), Christ often physically engages in His healing miracles; He puts His hands on the sick, putting His fingers in ears, touching eyes and even uses spittle for healing. Reflect on the Incarnation and Christ’s True Body (CCC 461-463; 476-477), realizing that Christ understands the physical suffering of you and all people.

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 miraculously Feeding the 4000 and being confronted by the disbelieving and treacherous Pharisees who demand another sign from Heaven, Christ rebukes the Pharisees and departs with the Apostles by boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.

Despite the Feeding of the 4000 which left 7 baskets full of leftover bread, the Apostles have somehow only brought one loaf of bread for their passage. Returning the Apostle’s attention to the hard-heartedness of the Pharisees, Christ warns them of how poisonous ideology (like the Pharisees and Herod), even in small amounts, negatively affects individuals and societies like a small amount of leaven (yeast) affects a whole batch of dough. The Apostles, perhaps being driven by their hunger or because they are simply spiritually dense, are confused and continue to focus on the lack of physical bread.

Christ rebukes the Apostles for their lack of understanding, perception, memory and inability to grasp what they have seen and heard (an echo of earlier condemnations of Israel; Jer 5:21; Isa 6:9-10); worse, Christ asks them if they are hard-hearted. Questioning them further, Christ forces them to recall  the remains of 12 baskets and 7 baskets from His feeding miracles ; though cryptic, Christ likely refers to His offer of salvation to the 12 tribes of Israel and the Gentile nations who make up the rest of mankind (“7” represents completeness and perception in the Bible).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of Man, Christ has a definitive methodology, remarkably ensuring that exactly 12 and 7 baskets are left over from His miracles. Divine King, Christ is close to His men and continually forms and prepares them for their mission to evangelize the world. Divine Prophet, Christ speaks truth with bluntness, echoing the words of earlier prophets He inspired.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s ability to multiple bread and fish to feed thousands of people is miraculous; to engineer the result to have exactly 12 and 7 baskets of remains is astounding.  Be awed.

2) Across the thousands of years of Salvation History, Christ lays the groundwork for the gift of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist: Melchizedek’s blessing (Gen 14:18-20), the gift of manna in the desert (Exod 16 ), the Feeding of the 5000 and 4000. Marvel at Christ’s deliberate gift of the Eucharist (CCC 1333-1344) and pray to grow in love and devotion to the Body and Blood of Christ.

3) Many men are lazy when it comes to growing in faith. Consider Christ’s blunt rebuke of the Apostles’ failure to reflect upon and understand His miracles.  Review the “Characteristics of Faith” (CCC 153-165) and pray for Christ to help you grow in your zeal and pursuit of understanding of your Catholic faith.

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

Traveling to the desolate area of the east shore of the Sea of Galilee in the area of the Decapolis (“ten cities”), Christ miraculously performed an act of mind-boggling scope; in the deserted location with no food available, Christ fed 4000 men (and many additional women and children) with bread and fish until they were full. It is a sign of such immensity so as to confirm His Divinity; no human being could perform such a sign.

Despite being among those fed by Christ, a group of Pharisees come forward and seek to challenge Christ. Pharisees (“Separated Ones”) were a dominant Jewish sect which believed that God would deliver Israel if minute details of religious practices were rigorously carried out; already, Christ had clashed with the Pharisees on multiple occasions. Now, the Pharisees argue with Christ, demanding He perform a sign from Heaven so as to test Him, similar to how Satan sought to test Christ in the Temptation. Blinded by their ideology and demanding that God conform to their expectations, the Pharisees have failed to grasp the miraculous sign of the Feeding of the 4000, despite having been fed themselves.

Frustrated and perhaps sorrowful for their hard-heartedness, Christ sighs deeply in spirit and rebukes the Pharisees, saying, “…no sign will be given to this generation.”  Christ words condemn the Pharisees and recall God’s words to the rebellious Jews during the Exodus who refused to accept His many signs and were not allowed to enter into the Promised Land (Deut 1:35; 32:5). Unable to break through to the sinful Pharisees, Christ departs by boat.

Awed by Jesus Christ –  Divine King, Christ confronts the curiosity and false faith of the Pharisees. Son of Man, Christ demonstrates the power of righteous indignation for those who seek to test Him. Divine Prophet, Christ mysteriously warns the hard-hearted Pharisees of their coming doom with Scripture references.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at Christ’s Divine Prudence: while He could effortlessly perform miraculous signs, Christ refuses to be tested by the hard-hearted Pharisees’, choosing to warn them of their coming peril using Scripture references they understood.

2) Like the Pharisees tried to test Christ by asking for a sign, men, during times of stress or doubt, sometimes test Christ to give signs or to provide a specific “acceptable” outcome. Realize that testing Christ is an act against faith (CCC 2119) and pray instead for Christ’s perfect will to be done.

3) Christ demonstrates considerable patience with the Pharisees despite their constant accusations and secret plots to kill him. Pray for Christ to help you grow in patience (a Spiritual Work of Mercy) during the struggles of everyday life and when you bear unjust wrongs (CCC 2447, 1825, 2219, 736, 1832).

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

God called Moses to ascend a mountain to receive the 10 Commandments; now Christ ascends a mountain to give the Sermon of the Mount, a summary of the New Covenant in which the standards of holiness are raised even higher. Having described the demands and blessings of holiness in the Beatitudes and the need for men to spread the Gospel, Christ reaffirms the 10 Commandments and calls for men to seek an even more rigorous internal conversion of the heart.

Remarkably, Christ starts by revealing He is the fulfillment (i.e. to make complete) of the Law and the Prophets, 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” will be ignored; the perfection that 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.

While the Old Covenant laid out commandments which outlawed outer sinful behaviors, Christ commands His followers to the higher standard of eradicating the sinful inner thoughts. Rather than just refraining from physically killing others, Christ commands men to refrain from anger in their hearts and to reconcile with others. Rather than refraining from adultery, Christ commands men to not even entertain lust in their hearts. Rather than using corruptions of the Law to divorce and remarry, Christ commands men to refrain from divorce and remarriage or they shall be guilty of adultery. Rather than limiting truth to when a man is under oath, Christ commands men to simply tell the truth all the time.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ reconfirms the 10 Commandments and speaks with the authority to modify Mosaic Law.  Divine Prophet, reinforces the Law and Prophets of the Old Covenant and amazingly, Jesus reveals that He has come to fulfill them.  Divine King, Christ calls His disciples to a new perfection of inner holiness.  Divine Judge, Christ has first hand knowledge of Heaven, the Power and Wisdom to judge men’s souls and confirms some are excluded from Heaven.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)1) Christ astounds as He asserts the authority to significantly amend Mose’s 1200 year-old law received directly from God. Christ does not claim that He was given authority by God (like Moses) but implicitly asserts His own authority; Christ is speaking and acting like God.  Be awed.

2) Modern culture, governments and even some within the Church oppose  Christ’s clear teaching and the 10 Commandments. Renew your understanding of and commitment to the 10 Commandments (CCC 2052-2082) and pray for Christ to help you live out His laws.

3) After adamantly condemning lustful thoughts, Christ uses extreme hyperbole (e.g. not literal) to warn men to turn from lust and the fires of Hell; gouging out one’s eye (from gazing at pornography) and cutting off one’s right hand (masturbation). Review the Church’s teaching on “The Vocation to Chastity” (CCC 2337-2359) and pray for Christ to help you repent from lust and to grow in chastity; Examine your conscience and go to Confession.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

Earlier, Christ had traveled to the area of the Decapolis (“ten cities”) east of the Sea of Galilee and miraculously cast out many demons from a possessed man, causing much fear (Mark 5:1-20). The former-demoniac desired to come with Christ but Christ told him to tell everyone about God’s mercy; upon returning, the man’s testimony has made Christ known and a huge multitude comes to meet Him in a deserted place, far from the cities.

After three days, the crowd has been without food and are famished. Christ feels deep compassion and worries about the well-being of the crowd, perhaps recalling His own fast in the desert for 40 days. The crowd are richly rewarded for their determination to be near Christ for they are not only fed, but witness an astounding miracle. Christ’s history-changing action by Feeding of the 4000 (Men) understates the miracle; when women and children are included, the count of those fed is much higher.

While the miracle of feeding thousands of people astounds, Christ’s action is much greater than simple feeding. Revealing Himself as the Divine Priest, Christ previews the liturgy of the Eucharist in the breaking of the bread, just as He will do at the Last Supper. He draws the 12 Apostles to Himself and allows them to mediate His Grace to mankind as they distribute the bread to the multitude; as priests after Christ’s Resurrection, the Apostles and their successors will feed billions of people with the Bread of Life in the Eucharist at every Mass. Christ seers the miracle into the minds of the 12 Apostles when they collect up the remains to find there was more bread than they had at the beginning; the 7 loaves had miraculously multiplied to feed the multitude and had now grown to fill 7 baskets.

Awed by Jesus Christ – Divine King and the Greatest Leader, Christ forms His apostles through participation in the miracle.  Son of Man, Christ feels emotions deeply, particularly compassion for the suffering. Divine Priest, Christ’s replays the feeding of Israel with manna, previews the Eucharist and initiates the Apostles into priesthood.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s astounding miracles sometimes lose their impact on the modern reader. Consider this: using simple math and some reasonable assumptions, Christ miraculously provided a semi-truck load full of bread in the Feeding of the 4000.

2) While Christ’s miraculous Feeding of the 4000 is astounding, His continued feeding of hundred of millions of Catholics with His Body and Blood at weekly Mass is an even greater miracle. Reflect upon the Eucharist (CCC 1322-1344) and pray for Christ to help you grow in awe of His miraculous gift of the Eucharist.

2) Unlike Christ and the multitude who persevere in the tough conditions of the wilderness for three days, many in the prosperous modern society have lost the “hunger” to endure hardship and persevere. Review the Cardinal Virtues (CCC 1803-1809) and pray for Christ to help you persevere in the face of current or future 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