After teaching about the extreme sacrifice required of disciples and the harsh realities of the Judgment, Christ offers a series of parables which reveal the overflowing Divine Mercy of God, a God who goes to great lengths to search out the lost and lavishly welcomes, forgives and blesses the repentant.

Accused by the Pharisees of coddling sinners, Christ teaches two parables (Lost Sheep, Lost Coin – omitted in today’s Gospel) which describe God’s great willingness to search for lost souls and the astounding joy in Heaven when a soul is saved. Blinded by their arrogance and hatred, the Pharisees can not recognize that they are part of the “lost” that Christ (God) is seeking to save.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is an iconic masterpiece of Christ’s teaching. God the Father (the father) is gravely insulted (asked for inheritance while still alive) by Catholic men (the Prodigal).  Catholc men (the Prodigal) leave the Church (go to a foreign land) and engage in all kinds of sin (sexual sin). After hitting rock bottom (the Prodigal is starving and feeding unclean pigs), Catholic men can repent (“I have sinned against you”), return to God (the father), be forgiven and experience His Mercy (the father welcomes the son, dresses him and holds a feast). A final note: the unforgiving and jealous older brother in the parable represents the harsh and judgmental Pharisees. Don’t be a Pharisee.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ offers an inside view of God’s hunger for the salvation of souls. Divine Teacher, Christ brilliantly teaches with wonderfully complex and powerful parables which continue to speak to men. Divine King, Christ is fearless in His willingness to confront the hateful Pharisees. Divine Mercy, Christ longs to save all souls, even those scheming to kill Him.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Across history, most of what the brightest minds have said and written is unknown or forgotten by most men. Be awed by how Christ’s sayings (“turn the other cheek”) and parables (Lost Sheep, Prodigal Son, Good Samaritan) continue to have impact 2000 years after the Incarnation.

2) The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a lesson in the Father’s overflowing mercy.  During Lent, reaffirm in your hear God’s Divine Mercy (CCC 210-211, 270, 589, 545, 1700) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in faith and trust in His Mercy.

3) Like the Prodigal, to receive the Father’s mercy, every man must repent and return to the Father. During Lent, continue the process of conversion and repentance (CCC 1423, 1439, 1468), asking Christ to forgive your trespasses (CCC 2838-2841). Examine your conscience, go to Confession and be blessed the forgiveness of your sins by Christ.

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

Entering Jerusalem for Passion Week, Christ clashes with the Jewish leadership after He clears the Temple. Responding to their challenge to His authority, Christ responds with several parables including the Parable of the Wicked Tenants which He uses to both rebuke and call the Jewish leadership to repentance.

In slightly veiled terms, the parable tells of how God has given men a fruitful earth and has sent prophets, and ultimately His Beloved Son, to call men to fruitful lives. God (A householder) has given men (tenants) a beautiful Creation (a vineyard with hedge and winepress). God, who is unseen (goes to another country), sends His prophets (servants) to call men to holy lives (produce fruit). Wicked men (Jewish leadership, evil men) abuse (beat, kill, stone) God’s prophets (servants). God (the householder) sends His Son Jesus (the son) but wicked men (Jewish leadership, evil men) kill Christ, seeking to rule the world (get the inheritance). Amazingly, when Christ questions the Jewish leadership about what God should do (the householder), they incriminate and condemn themselves (wretches) to death.

Christ quotes the 1000-year-old scripture of the “cornerstone” (Psalms 118:22-23) which cryptically refers to His Resurrection and the building of the Catholic Church. After speaking in veiled terms, Christ explicitly condemns the Jewish leadership for their lack of holiness (fruits) and reveals God will withhold His blessings from Israel and give His blessings to others (fruitful nations); ominously, Christ warns of destruction (broken to pieces, crush) to those who reject Him (omitted verse 44). The Jewish leaders finally realize Christ is condemning them but fail to act out of fear of the enthusiastic crowd.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God and Divine Prophet, Christ has inspired the Old Testament scripture and uses it to predict His Passion and His Church. Almighty King, Christ rebukes the Jewish leaders using both a well-crafted parable and ancient Scripture in a masterful oratory. Divine Judge, Christ confirms that men are judged by their fruits and some are harshly condemned.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Crowds are awed by Christ’s powerful parables, magnificent oratory and fearless condemnation of the corrupt Jewish leadership. Re-read and imagine you are witnessing Christ’s actions in today’s Gospel.  Be awed.

2) Christ accurately predicts that God will build the Catholic Church upon Christ, the cornerstone. During Lent, refresh your understanding behind the Creed’s profession, “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church” (CCC 748-810) and pray for Christ to help you grow in love and service to His Church.

3) Christ reveals that men are called to and will be judged on their fruitfulness. During Lent, review the Catechism’s summary of “Grace and Justification” (CCC 1987-2029) and pray for Christ’s grace to help you accept and do His will.

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

 

After offering several parables about the obsession with, and the misuse of wealth, Christ gives the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The parable confirms the truth about life after death and offers a frighting look into the eternal damnation that awaits those who ignore the plight of the poor. The Rich Man spends his days in the sin of gluttony, eating exquisite meals while in his front yard, the poor Lazarus is starving, tormented by wild dogs who lick at his wounds.

Both die and go to Hades, a realm of the dead where all who die reside prior to Christ’s opening of Heaven after His Resurrection. Though in Hades, Lazarus enters in the relative comfort of Abraham’s bosom, being united with the just of the Old Testament. Because of his callous disregard for Lazarus’ plight, the Rich Man is cast into depths of Hades where the evil reside in suffering in eternity.

Christ reveals disturbing details of the plight of the damned. The damned are aware of their plight, both in what they are eternally experiencing and that others (like Lazarus) are comforted. An inferno of flames engulf the evil, leaving them in thirsty anguish. The damned will be without hope, unable to exit the burning Hell or to have any influence on the fates of their families.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God with the Father for eternity, has knowledge of the realities of both Heaven and Hell. Divine Prophet, Christ constructs memorable parables to warn of the blessings of Heaven and of the torments of Hell.  Divine Judge, Christ determines who will be admitted into Heaven and who will be cast into Hell.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) It is sometimes easy to fail to grasp the astounding divine nature of Christ. During Lent, renew your understanding of our Creed’s profession that Christ “descended into Hell” (CCC 631-637) and be awed by Christ’s power and mercy.

2) During Lent, reconfirm your belief in the Creed’s profession, “I believe in life everlasting” (CCC 1020-1060), do a thorough Examination of Conscience at be cleansed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

3) The Rich Man doesn’t make excuses; he had seen Lazarus’ daily suffering. During Lent, reflect on the mortal sin of ignoring suffering (CCC 1859, 1033, 1825, 2208, 2443-2454) and pray for Christ to help you always respond to the needs of the suffering and the poor.

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

After forming the Apostles over a period of several years, Christ leads them towards Jerusalem and His Passion; it is a stressful time that leaves the disciples “amazed” and the crowds “afraid” (Mark 10:32). Taking the disciples aside, Christ, with astonishing precision, describes the details of His passion including His “trial” by the Jewish leaders, the scourging and Crucifixion by the Gentiles and His Resurrection after three days.

Rather than prayerful sorrow for Christ’s coming ordeal, the mother of the “Sons of Thunder”, James and John, kneels before Christ and then selfishly asks Christ to “Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Instead of a harsh rebuke for her ill-timed demand to glorify her sons (Christ has just told them He will be killed), Christ addresses James and John, probably because they have put their mother up to the request. Christ patiently confirms their ignorance and asks if they can “drink the chalice”; this is a mysterious reference to His Crucifixion. Christ confirms they will indeed “drink my chalice”, a reference to their own suffering (James is martyred and John is exiled), but defers to the Father’s Will as to how each will be rewarded.

The 10 other Apostles are indignant at James’ and John’s desire to be honored by Christ above them. Christ, aware of their anger, summons the Apostles and rebukes their desire for honor. Comparing their desires for glory to the lust for power of the Gentiles, Christ directs the disciples to instead model their behavior on Him and aspire to be a servant and slave for the salvation of others.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Leader, Christ forms and leads the Apostles to witness His Passion and Resurrection in Jerusalem.  Divine Prophet, Christ accurately provide details of His own death and the suffering of the disciples. Divine King, Christ talks tough to His disciples, rebuking their indignation and foolish desire for honor and directing them to imitate His humility and service.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Despite forming the Apostles for three years and clearly describing His imminent betrayal, torture and murder, the Apostles selfishly vie for honor. Be amazed at Christ’s merciful patience.

2) In today’s Gospel, Christ’s reveals His coming Passion and Resurrection for the third time. During Lent, marvel at how Christ’s death and resurrection was essential in God’s Plan of Salvation (CCC 599-623); pray for Christ to help you grow in gratitude for His Passion.

3) The 10 Apostles’ anger at James and John is due to their envy of the honor the Sons of Thunder have requested. During Lent, review the 10th Commandment (CCC 2534-2557) and pray for Christ to help you eradicate envy of others.

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 tolerating, but crushing, the repeated attacks by the Sadducees, Pharisees and scribes, in Matthew 23, Christ publicly (in the Temple!) warns that they are dangerous should not be followed. He begins by reasserting the importance of authority, pointing to the chair of Moses as the current authoritative teaching; in the New Covenant, Christ, the Son of God and Divine King is the exclusive authority and establishes the Chair of Peter (the papacy) and His Catholic Church to rule for Him.

Christ denounces the Jewish religious leadership with several criticisms: they put excessive religious burdens on the faithful; they don’t practice what they preach; they practice conspicuous piety; they pridefully seek attention and honor. Christ tells His disciples to avoid the Jewish leadership’s core sin of pride and embrace humility: “Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Of note: Protestants (and some feminists) often foolishly and falsely use Christ’s “call no man father” to argue against Christ’s exclusive selection of men for the Catholic priesthood and addressing priests as “father.” Christ uses hyperbole (e.g. exaggeration) to denounce the hypocritical Pharisee’s prideful quest for honorific titles; Christ certainly doesn’t intend for children not to call their own biological father, “father” (or to not call a religious teacher, “rabbi” ). The Apostles understood Christ’s “call no man father” as hyperbole; they used “father” as a title for spiritual fatherhood (Peter, John, Paul all did this) and eventually the title “father” became routinely used for priests.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of Man, the perfection of Virtue, Christ courageously condemns His enemies in their supposed domain, the Temple. Divine King, Christ commands that His followers be obedient, humble and rigorous in the practice of the faith; denouncing the hypocrites to teach one thing and do another, Christ perfectly carries out His teachings, even unto death.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Be awed by Christ’s bold and courageous speaking the truth about the blatant sins and corruption of those in power.

2) Just as Christ condemned the sinful failures of the Jewish leadership but urged His disciples to remain faithful, Christ abhors the many failures of Catholic clergy but desires Catholic men to remain faithful. During Lent, renew your understanding of Holy Orders (CCC 1536-1600) and pray for Christ to protect and correct His priests.

3) Christ condemns the arrogant pride of the Jewish leadership. During Lent, reignite your commitment to pursue Humility (CCC 2546, 2559, 2631) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in humble faith and love.

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