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  • St. Peter the Fisherman

June 1, 2020

Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church


Mark 12:1-12


Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenan ts to death, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture passage:


“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away.


Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to take this time to open my mind and my heart to whatever it is you want to say to me today. I believe in your love for me, even though I don’t always feel it. I hope in the power of your grace to continue purifying and strengthening me in my journey through life. And I thank you for all the good gifts you have given me throughout my life, and especially in these last twenty-four hours. Lord, “lead me in the path of your commandments, for that is my delight” (Psalms 119:35).


Encountering Christ:


1. Jesus Is Patient with Us: God’s infinite patience comes across in this parable in three different ways. First, Jesus continually tries to make his enemies understand who he really is. He speaks this parable to the “chief priests, the scribes, and the elders.” These were religious leaders in Israel, the ones who would eventually condemn Jesus and have him crucified. Jesus hasn’t given up on them. They haven’t accepted his plain teaching, so he changes gears by using a parable to open their eyes: he is the Son of the parable, and in rejecting him, his enemies are separating themselves from their proper relationship with God, just as the tenants in the parable did with the owner of the vineyard. Parables are an extra effort on Christ’s part to explain things to people who have blind spots. Jesus uses parables all the time, because he knows we all have blind spots. He wants us to see and embrace the truth, and he never stops tryi ng to help us do that.


2. God the Father Is Patient with Us: Second, the parable itself illustrates God’s determined patience in the behavior of the vineyard’s owner. After sending three different servants to collect the normal price owed by the tenants, and after all three of them were unjustly abused, he sends “many others,” who are also abused. And he still doesn’t give up. He then sends his very own son. Just so, throughout the history of salvation, God has sent us many messengers–prophets, priests, and kings–and in the fullness of time, he even sent us his own Son. There is simply no limit to God’s mercy, goodness, and patience. No matter how many times we may turn our backs to God or reject his approaches, or abuse his gifts, he will never give up on us. We matter too much to him.


3. God’s Infinite Patience Is Matched by His Infinite Generosity: Third, the vineyard owner in the parable provides all the necessary material for his tenants to have a successful harvest, and then goes away and gives them plenty of time and space to do their work. The parable points out that the owner sent the first servant to collect the tenant’s payment “at the proper time.” God is not unreasonable. He has given us all that we are and all that we have: our lives, our talents, the earth, our cultural heritage, our faith, the Church, the Gospel. He has provided us with a fully equipped vineyard, and he respects our freedom as we try to make it produce the fruits of wisdom, justice, and happiness that our lives are created for. He does not rush us. He does not force us. He trusts us and gives us unlimited chances (always supported by his grace and providence) to develop all our gifts in harmony with the true purpose of our lives—livin g in communion with God. Only those who stubbornly persevere in selfishness and sin in spite of God’s overflowing generosity and patience will be excluded from his Kingdom. God himself wants all of us to succeed in what matters most: the journey of growing in our friendship with him.


Conversing with Christ: Sometimes, Lord, I think I am less patient with myself than you are with me. You never give up on me, but I often give up on myself. You never tire of reaching out to me, but at times I get frustrated and close myself off from receiving what you want to give. Help me, Lord, to be like Mary, your mother and the mother of the Church, who was always ready and eager to receive whatever you wanted to give, and to give whatever you asked.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pay special attention to feelings of frustration, anger, and discouragement. When I feel those things, I will pause and call to mind your infinite patience. Then I will ask you to show me how to be more like you in the way I deal with whatever is causing those feelings.


For Further Reflection: St. John Henry Newman’s unforgettable prayer for patience and trust: Lead, Kindly Light (http://www.newmanreader.org/works/verses/verse90.html).

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  • St. Peter the Fisherman

May 31, 2020 Solemnity of Pentecost


John 20:19-23


On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Opening Prayer: Lord, I have been preparing my heart this week for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Send forth your Spirit to enlighten my mind as I reflect on this Scripture.


Encountering Christ:


1. The Doors Were Locked: The doors of the room where the disciples were gathered was locked because they were afraid of the Jews. The doors of our hearts are also locked when we are afraid. A wise confessor once told me to prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by asking myself, “What was I afraid of when I did/said/thought that?” Sin often happens because we’re afraid. Fears can point to self-love, worldly attachments, or vanities. St. John tells us that “perfect love casts out fear.” When we identify our fears, let us ask the Lord to replace them with love. And the grace of Reconciliation strengthens us to reopen the doors to our hearts.


2. Peace Be with You: Our Lord knows the perfect antidote to fear: peace. He bestowed peace on his apostles who were locked in the upper room. And he always brings peace to us when we let him into our moments of prayer or activity. Peace is his “trademark,” a sure sign of his presence in our life. Even when life circumstances challenge us, Jesus brings peace with him if we invite him in. Why do we hesitate? Come Holy Spirit! Reign in my heart and cast out all fear.


3. Receive the Holy Spirit!: There is no better gift on earth or in heaven than to receive the Holy Spirit. Our Lord promised us the Paraclete, and when we are in a state of grace, the Holy Spirit is alive and active within us. The Holy Spirit brings invaluable gifts (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord) and fruits (charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, forbearance, gentleness, faith, modesty, self-control, and chastity). The Sanctifier works to make us holy and worthy of eternal life with the Holy Trinity. So, when our Lord said to his apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he was saying also to us on this Pentecost Sunday, “Receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.” Come Holy Spirit. Come!


Conversing with Christ: Lord, please send your Holy Spirit in abundance! I need grace and inspiration to live a life worthy of you. I want to know you more personally and revere you with the gift of fear of the Lord. Please bless me with special graces on this feast day! Allow me to pray in the Spirit.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will use the resources below to pray the “Promises of Christ,” and personalize and add to them as I scour the Scriptures in the coming weeks.


For Further Reflection: A shortlist of the promises of Christ:


God will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

God will always protect you (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

God will give you strength for every battle (Isaiah 40:31).

God will give you the graces necessary to endure all suffering (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God will forgive you even when you have sinned against him (1 John 1:9).

God will never stop loving you (Ephesians 3:17-19).

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  • St. Peter the Fisherman

May 30, 2020

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter


John 21:20-25


Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?” It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.


Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for Peter. He teaches us so much about how you work with human nature. Help me to be open and honest in my prayer today.


Encountering Christ:


1. Peter turned...?: The Gospel opens with the phrase “Peter turned…” Jesus had just intimated that Peter would die on a cross, and commanded him to, “Follow me.” Instead of responding to Jesus with “fiat,” or even “I’m frightened,” Peter turned and inquired about John. Little children do this sometimes. They ignore a direct command as if they didn’t hear it, and they busy themselves with the nearest distraction. When God asks more of us than we are willing to give, we sometimes turn away too. Fortunately, we know that Peter, who seemed more interested in John’s fate than in following Jesus at that moment, went on to grow in grace enough to lead the Church and become a saint. We draw consolation from Peter’s example as we hope to become saints one day ourselves.


2. What Concern Is It of Yours?: Our Lord rebuked Peter, reminding him (and us) to stay focused on the mission. “You, follow me,” Jesus said. Why did Peter ask, “What about him?” Was Peter envious of John? Concerned for John, that he might also face crucifixion? Overwhelmed by Jesus’s revelation and out of sorts? Regardless of his motive, Peter earned a reprimand. Considering the ugliness of sin, Our Lord’s reprimands can be exceedingly gentle. They can come in the form of a spouse’s well-intentioned criticism, a friends’ fraternal correction, a chiding by a spiritual guide with our best interests at heart, or an inspired confessor. Knowing, as we do, that these comments are grounded in the love of Christ, we humble ourselves, thank Our Lord for his wisdom, make the correction, and refocus on the mission.


3. Jesus Did so Many Things: John tells us that all the books in the world could not have contained Our Lord’s actions. That was true in his lifetime, but even more, true today, as Christ acts in a multitude of ways in everyone’s life every day, every hour. Among his most profound acts is the transubstantiation that happens at every Mass throughout the world around the clock. His presence through the sacraments sanctifies souls continually. And he acts among nonbelievers in the good they do and the love they share. Even in those spiritually dead, Jesus is entombed. “He remains in all those who are tempted: in those who are in mortal sin, he is in the tomb. We should never come to a sinner without the reverence we would take to the Holy Sepulchre.” – Caryll Houselander


Conversing with Christ: Lord, you seem to be reminding me to keep my eyes on you in these Gospel verses. I get frightened, overwhelmed, and easily distracted from my everyday mission— to love those you put in my path. Please let me know when I’ve stepped out of line. I want to do your will, but I’m weak. Come Holy Spirit!


Resolution: Lord, today, by our grace, I will do a thorough examination of conscience to see where I can reorient my thoughts and actions toward you.

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