The Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the 19th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 19:3-12.

The Pharisees, as part of their plot to kill Christ, seek to discredit Him on the topic of divorce; Christ’s teaching that divorce is forbidden contradicted Moses’ long-established allowance of divorce. The Pharisees realize that Christ’s position on divorce was the same as John the Baptist’s; by publicizing Christ’s forbidding of divorce, the Pharisees scheme to get the divorced Herod to kill Christ as he killed John the Baptist.

Christ humiliates the learned Pharisees by exposing their lack of understanding of Scripture by referring to Moses’ own words inspired by God in Genesis (it was held that Moses was inspired to write Genesis) that describes man, woman, marriage and forbids divorce (Gen 2:24); God made two sexes, male and female, and supernaturally binds man and woman together in an unbreakable bond of marriage. He responds to the Pharisees’ second question (“Why then did Moses…”) by revealing Moses allowed divorce because of the “hardness” of hearts and that He absolutely forbids divorce and remarriage, condemning “remarriage” as adultery.

Christ’s “except for unchastity” is not an exception; Catholic understanding has always been that divorce is absolutely forbidden; the Greek word for “unchastity” (porneia) can also mean incest (blood relatives can not marry, if if they do, they must divorce). The disciples’ response that it is perhaps better not to marry confirms that Christ strictly forbids divorce with no exceptions. Christ releases men from the vocation of marriage who are sexually impotent (by birth or because of castration) and those men who become celibate priests for the sake of the Kingdom.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, with the Father from the beginning, Christ knows Moses’ rationale for the temporary allowance of divorce; on His own authority, Christ forbids divorce, overturning centuries of flawed Jewish practice. Divine King, Christ forcefully rebukes those who attack, decisively destroying their feeble attempts at traps and arguments. Divine Priest, Christ lays the foundation for the celibate male priesthood.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men, seeking to change the world, attempt to speak with authority, citing public opinion, logic, the latest science, emotion or historical precedent; all of these sources of authority come from imperfect humans. Marvel at the boldness of Christ, the only man in history, whose authority is because He is God; Christ is the unalterable Divine Truth.

2) Today, there is broad rebellion against God’s unchanging truth that marriage is the permanent, exclusive union of a man and a woman ( e.g. non-married “partners”, homosexual “marriage”, polygamous “marriages”, etc). Renew your understanding of the Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage (CCC 2387-2391; elsewhere the Church categorically condemns homosexual unions) and pray for Christ to help you fearlessly respect the dignity of marriage, in your own life and in your public profession.

3) Recently, some in the Church have heretically claimed that civily-divorced Catholics may “ remarry” and not be in a state of adultery; this is false. Review the Catechism’s unchangeable teaching about Adultery and Divorce (CCC 1640, 1650, 1664, 2380-2386, 2400) and pray for those who rebel against Christ’s teaching about adultery and divorce.

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 19th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 18:21-19:1.

After Christ dictates how men are to correct their brothers who sin against them, Christ now teaches about forgiveness.  Peter, continuing to show why Christ chose him to be the leader of the Church, realizes the critical importance of forgiveness but asks Christ for more clarity about the limits of forgiveness.  Christ’s reply that His disciples must forgive “70 times 7” means that Christ demands 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 immediately follows His response to Peter with the parable of The Unmerciful Slave. A King (Christ) has riches and power so immeasurable that one of His slaves 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 an almost infinite debt (each man’s sins). In desperation, the slave kneels and begs, promising to pay his impossible debt. The King, viscerally moved by the slave’s repentant plea, forgives the slave’s entire debt.

The newly freed slave, forgetting forgiveness, comes across another slave 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 slave, 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 slave into prison.  Fellow slaves report the injustice to the King who confronts the evil slave, 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 Slave, Christ gives a mysterious “God’s eye” view of His infinite Mercy but also His perfect Justice.  Reflect on God’s willingness to forgive the immense sins of repentant sinners and the just punishment that unrepentant sinners will face.

2) Like the Unmerciful Servant, each man has an infinite debt to God he can never repay (a man’s priceless value of being alive; countless sins of commission and omission). Reflect upon Forgive Us Our Trespasses (CCC 1439, 1441, 2839-2841) and marvel that Christ is willing to forgive the gravest sin in the Sacrament of Confession. Go to Confession as soon as possible, repenting in your heart for your sins and giving thanks for Christ’s Infinite Divine Mercy.

3) Christ’s call for unlimited forgiveness can seem impossible when someone commits a serious sin against a man (e.g. an unrepentant murderer of a man’s son; the rape of a wife or daughter); often deep divisions form in families over much less serious sins. Review the need to Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us (CCC 1425, 2843-2845) and pray for Christ to send the Holy Spirit to help you forgive your “brothers (and or sisters) from your heart (CCC 368).”

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 19th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 18:15-20.

Having taught the Apostles to seek out the lost in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Christ now gives practical direction as to how to bring a lost sheep back into the fold. Speaking to men using masculine terms, Christ reveals that some men stuck in persistent grave sin may repent if confronted with their sin by holy men.

Christ describes a three step process, using subsidiary (to solve problems at the lowest level possible), beginning with a man-to-man rebuke (fraternal correction) followed by a discussion with several men (witnesses) and finally a discussion with the local parish priest (the Church). After explicitly giving the power to bind/loose to Peter (Matt 16:19), in this teaching Christ gives Peter the ability to extend this power to bind/loose to bishops in their local congregations.

For those stubborn men, confused by evil and unwilling to turn from sin, Christ directs His men to shun those men like “a Gentile or tax collector” (those outside the covenant); this is consistent with Paul’s teaching to disassociate with those who persist in grave unrepentant sin (e.g. 1 Cor 5:9-13). The purpose is pastoral; the hope is that the unrepentant sinner will repent when he is shunned for his sinful rebellion by his brothers in the Church. Christ urges men to pray for wayward men, promising that He hears their prayers for He is in the midst of them.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ gives authority and rules to His appointed Apostles for the leading of the Church; He reinforces the need for Catholic fraternity/brotherhood. Divine Teacher, Christ blends masterful parables with practical advice about how to live out the Gospel. Divine Judge, through this teaching Christ previews His willingness to disassociate with unrepentant sinners in His Kingdom to come.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Rather than the false, non-offensive wishy-washy Christ so often promoted, the true Christ does not tolerate sin; He hates sin and is willing to die to defeat sin. Marvel at how Christ speaks directly to men using a masculine approach that blends merciful, but blunt, confrontation of those in sin with truth and offers tough consequences for men who won’t repent.

2) In contrast to Christ’s call for Catholic brotherhood, today, the majority of Catholic men do not have meaningful fraternity with other Catholic men/brothers. Reflect on the need for Catholic Brotherhood (CCC 788, 1271, 2074, 2233, 2790) and pray for Christ to help you build deep fraternity with other Catholic men in your parish.

3) Despite Christ’s explicit command for Catholic men to correct their brothers who are in obstinate sin, many men are afraid to speak the truth due to the oppressive culture of political correctness. Reflect upon the duty to bear Witness to Truth (CCC 932, 2471-2472) and pray for Christ to help you to Instruct the Ignorant and Admonish Sinners (Spiritual Works of Mercy; CCC 2447).

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 Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is Luke 1:39-56.

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 (Joseph very likely accompanied Mary on this dangerous 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 brith in Elizabeth’s womb, and causes John to leap with joy.

Mary full of humble joy, directs attention to the glory and praise of God. Mary’s joyous Magnificat (Latin: “magnifies”) is a divinely inspired and poetic hymn of praise to God for His blessings throughout Salvation History. The Magnificat starts with Mary’s grateful response to the blessings that God has bestowed upon her. Astoundingly, Mary prophetically announces that “all generations will call me blessed.” Mary glorifies God and His intervention in the lives of men across time.

The Assumption is the infallible dogma of the Catholic faith which recognizes that after her life on earth was fulfilled, the Blessed Virgin Mary was “take up body and soul into heavenly glory” (CCC 966). The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been celebrated since the earliest days of the Church and reminds Catholics of Mary’s unique participation in her Son’s Resurrection and of the hopeful anticipation of the resurrection of all the Catholic faithful.

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. Son of Mary, Christ fills His mother with joy and inspires Mary to give Him glory; after His Resurrection, He raises the His Blessed Mother in the Assumption.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Be awed that Christ, though still in the early stages of human development in Mary’s womb, enthralls Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and the unborn John the Baptist and moves them to joy.

2) The Blessed Virgin Mary is venerated in the Church (CCC 1172) as the Holy Mother of God (CCC 466, 495, 509). Reflect upon the Blessed Virgin’s perfect example of Holiness (CCC 2030), Obedience of Faith (CCC 144, 148-149, 494), Hope (CCC 64) and Witness to the Faith (CCC 165, 273); pray for Mary to ask Christ to give you the grace to become more holy.

3) As demonstrated by Resurrection of Christ and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, man is destined for life after earthly death, to reside eternally either in Heaven or Hell. Reflect upon the Resurrection of the Body (CCC 988-1013) and ask Mary to “pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”

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

The Gospel reading from the Mass for Monday of the 19th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 17:22-27.

Following the powerful experience of the Transfiguration, Christ comes down the mountain and rebukes the disciples lack of faith and urges them to simply have the faith of a tiny mustard seed. Rather than hid the truth, Christ bluntly reveals that He will be killed but will be raised again. Showing they continue to lack faith, the disciples are “greatly distressed” at Christ’s blessed revelation.

Affirming Peter’s primacy as Christ’s lead Apostle, the men collecting the temple tax approach Peter for payment and Peter answers on Christ’s behalf.  The meaning of Christ’s later question to Simon-Peter in the New American Bible translation (used in the Mass readings) is distorted with gender-neutral language.  Here is an accurate translation of verses 25-26 using the RSVCE:  “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.”  With the accurate translation, Christ reaffirms important truths: the Divine Patriarchy of Kingship (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); His deliberate establishment of the patriarchy (rule by men) of the Catholic Church; the specific call to men to be adopted sons/princes in Christ’s Kingdom; the freedom of Christ’s sons from the ritual practice of the Old Covenant; Christ’s specific call to greatness for men.

After instructing Peter with the truth about paying the Temple Tax (Christ’s followers are exempt, for they are His sons), Christ demonstrates to Peter the need to be savvy with evangelization; in this case, to avoid conflict in the short term by simply paying the Temple Tax. To ensure Peter remembers, and perhaps to actually have the money to pay the tax, Christ performs a small miracle by materializing a coin in a fish’s mouth.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ reasserts the reality of His Kingdom and the essential nature of patriarchy in the Church; He also performs miracles using His Creation. Divine King, Christ’s selection of Peter as His chosen leader is recognized by even non-believers. Divine Prophet, Christ reveals His coming Passion and Resurrection. Divine Teacher, Christ instructs Peter about how to think about and deal with the Old Covenant.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not make mistakes; He purposefully establishes His Kingdom and specifically calls men (including priests – CCC 1577-1580) to be leaders in His Kingdom. Reflect on Christ’s perfect and deliberate emphasis on the call to men in this passage.

2) By financially contributing to the Temple, Christ demonstrates by example the need to support the Church; sadly, many Catholic parishes are struggling because Catholic men do not give generously. Review the obligation for men to Financially Support the Church (CCC 2043, 1350-1351, 1438) and pray for Christ to give to give generously to His Church out of gratitude for your many blessings.

3) In a world in free-fall moral decline and with a Church that often fails to take courageous Catholic stands, in contrast to Christ’s approach of picking His battles, men are often tempted to fight every battle. Reflect upon the Cardinal Virtue of Prudence (CCC 1805-1806, 1835, 1788, 2104) and pray for Him to guide you to take prudent action.

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