Monthly Archives: March 2017

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.
(Matthew 5:44)

Who are my enemies, Lord? Who is persecuting me? We have had to stand up for our right to worship here. How can we still show love for those who persecute us? You taught us how from the cross, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” You loved and prayed for those who tortured you.

I pray daily for those who dislike me, but I try to avoid them. That is not love. Please give me the courage and humility to approach them with respect and kindness.

Therefore, before you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with you brother, and then come and offer your gift.
(Matthew 5:23-24)

Lord, what could we offer at your altar that is more important than reconciling with our brothers and sisters? Please help me to know whom I have offended and to make amends. Tomorrow, I will receive the sacrament of penance and then the Eucharist. After confessing how I have hurt, insulted or neglected my neighbors, let me pray for them during Mass and include them in my thanksgiving. Before then, if possible, let me apologize to anyone I have slighted.

For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks the door will be opened.
(Matthew 7:7)

Lord, you will not refuse us anything that leads us to you and benefits us. I don’t always know what I need, but you do. I trust you to give me whatever is good.

In the first reading today, Queen Esther begs you for the life of her people. The danger is imminent and obvious. You rescue her by giving her the wit, the resolve, and the courage to stand up against her enemy. Please give us strong leaders in this age, too.

Help me to pray with greater confidence and let go of my fear. Show me how to act on this confidence and contribute to the solution in whatever way I can. Let me never tire of knocking at your door, for you never tire of me.

At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.
(Luke 11:32)

Nineveh was a pagan and wicked place, but when Jonah prophesied, its citizens recognized that he was from you, Lord, and they repented.

When you were preaching and healing, my Jesus, the crowds still asked for a sign. They ignored the miracles they had witnessed and demanded something more spectacular. You told them the people of Nineveh would rise up against them for their lack of faith.

When do I not recognize you, Lord? When do I forget all the gifts you have given me, all the signs you have shown me? When do I fail to trust you? It happens when I begin to rely on myself, to control my life, to micromanage every situation. I ask for a miracle but fail to see it when it comes.

Today, let me proclaim you and shout my praise to you for all you have shown me.

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think they will be heard because of their many words.
(Matthew 6:7)

My Jesus, please help me to pray today as you taught us. Let me consider each word.

You tell us to pray to “our Father,” not “my Father.”

Father, you are the Creator of us all, not merely the progenitor but the infuser of life. You are one, and you make us one with you.

You are in Heaven. What is that except wherever you are? Your Son brings heaven to us; he restores us to your Presence.

Your name is holy, so holy that the Jews dared not pronounce it but substituted “Adonai,” or Lord.

Your kingdom is here, now, and eternal. Your will is done, whether or not we cooperate with it. When we do seek it and strive to carry it out, we share the joy of your everlasting creation, “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Each day, you provide whatever we need, bread for our body and Eucharist for our spirit.

Perhaps the most important word in the prayer you gave us is “as.” We say not only, “as it is in heaven,” but “as we forgive those…” You forgive us to the extent that we forgive others. Every time I say this and mean it, I promise to forgive as you did, my Jesus, even from the cross. Let me not rattle off these words without considering them.

You will deliver me from evil and lead me out of temptation. My Jesus, I trust in you. Hear my prayer. Thy will be done in this moment and every moment.

And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did to one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
(Matthew 25:40)

Lord, I have seen you hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, ill, and in prison. Did I minister to you? I am ashamed to admit that there were many times when I failed to recognize you. I have even avoided those who sought my time and attention. I convinced myself that I didn’t know how to help, or that I had something more important to do. It is not too late for me to repent and reform. I cannot change on my own, but you can reshape my thoughts and actions. Please take me out of the way so that you can work in me. Then it will be you who welcomes the needy, as you did in your earthly ministry.

At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan. It is written:
‘The Lord your God shall you worship/and him alone shall you serve.’”

(Matthew 4:10)

I worship you, my God. Only you do I want to serve. Please help me to resist the cunning lies of Satan.

My Jesus, in order to be like us in everything except sin, you submitted to be tempted. The devil’s use of Scripture was no match for you, the author of Scripture. You who are all-powerful rejected the idea of wielding power. You who would feed thousands did not assuage your hunger. You did not thwart the laws of nature by throwing yourself from a precipice. You had no need to perform spectacular deeds. You would simply heal those who came to you.

Lead me far from temptation, Lord. Deliver me from evil. Ty will be done now and forever. Show me how to serve you today.

Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have come not to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners.
(Luke 5:31-32)

The Pharisees criticized you, Jesus, for eating with sinners and tax collectors. You had just called Levi from his collection stall and he was entertaining his counterparts, people the Pharisees shunned. I can’t help wondering, then, why the Pharisees were there.

Are there people with whom I refuse to associate? Is it because I am afraid they will rub off on me? I don’t think so. Am I, rather, afraid that others will criticize me, as they did you? Should I not be happy when I am treated as you were? You were mocked, scourged and spat upon – for my sins. How can I demand any other treatment? Please, Lord, heal me of “human respect.” I give you thanks that you are calling me to repentance, that you sit with me. You not only eat with me; you give yourself to me in the Eucharist. I will not be ashamed to be with anyone, for that would mean being ashamed of you.

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish
releasing those bound unjustly
untying the thongs of the yoke,
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
Sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
And not turning your back on your own.

(Isaiah 58:6-7)

Lord, please help me to fast from selfishness and pride by serving those who are needy. Show me who it is that I must release. Am I binding anyone by making demands on them? Am I oppressing anyone by ignoring or gossiping about him or her? Do I share not only food, shelter, and clothing, but cheerfulness, acceptance and kindness? Help me to turn towards my neighbors, not away from them.

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
(Luke 9:23-24)

You said this to all, my Jesus. You are saying it now to me. In the first reading today, we are instructed to choose life. Now you show me that in order to save my life I must lose it in you. You will reveal my daily cross and invite me to accept it, as you did yours. Yesterday, I grumbled because my plans were thwarted. What do my plans matter when yours are always fruitful? How much happier I will be if I accept each circumstance as your will. You have assured me that your yoke is easy. Help me to lean into it, remembering that you are pulling with me.

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees ion secret will repay you.
(Matthew 6:3)

Father, when I pray in secret, that prayer is my reward. Only when I am alone with you can I realize how much you love me. Please help me this Lent to act confidently on that realization. Show me how best to serve you.