Daily Prayer for January 19

But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. Isaiah 63:16, NIV

Lord God, we thank you as we look back to the times throughout the ages when your servants lifted a voice to witness that you are our Father, that you lead the peoples to their true goal. However long it may take, we thank you for allowing us to be part of this witness. We thank you that so much love and goodness still shine into our time as a light to the nations. Watch over us. May your Spirit grow stronger and stronger within us. Bring the redemption proclaimed by your servants, and let your light dawn over all lands to the honor of your name. Amen.

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Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I 1 Sm 16:1-13

The LORD said to Samuel:
“How long will you grieve for Saul,
whom I have rejected as king of Israel?
Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
But Samuel replied:
“How can I go?
Saul will hear of it and kill me.”
To this the LORD answered:
“Take a heifer along and say,
‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do;
you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you.”

Samuel did as the LORD had commanded him.
When he entered Bethlehem,
the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired,
“Is your visit peaceful, O seer?”
He replied:
“Yes!  I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.
So cleanse yourselves and join me today for the banquet.”
He also had Jesse and his sons cleanse themselves
and invited them to the sacrifice.
As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel: 
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because he sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel,
who said, “The LORD has not chosen him.”
Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said,
“The LORD has not chosen this one either.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.” 
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There–anoint him, for this is he!”  
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David. 
When Samuel took his leave, he went to Ramah.

Responsorial Psalm 89:20, 21-22, 27-28

R.        (21a)  I  have found David, my servant.
Once you spoke in a vision,
            and to your faithful ones you said:
“On a champion I have placed a crown;
            over the people I have set a youth.”
R.        I  have found David, my servant.
“I have found David, my servant;
            with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
            and that my arm may make him strong.”
R.        I  have found David, my servant.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
            my God, the Rock, my savior.’
And I will make him the first-born,
            highest of the kings of the earth.”
R.        I  have found David, my servant.

Alleluia See Eph 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Faith, Freedom, and Pharisees

Pharisees. As we read through Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus making enemies when he is only trying to hold out the truth to them (have you ever felt like this?). The Pharisees are the ones who hold themselves above everyone else because they know the law up and down, inside and out. And they follow the law. Scrupulously. Not just the Scriptural law, but the hundreds – HUNDREDS – of traditional interpretations of that law. In their (self-determined) superiority, they ruled over the people and in their (self-determined) self-righteousness, they looked down on all others.

This is what humans will do. Because we are fallen, and we are free. So wherever there are rules, there will be a tendency for some to act like the Pharisees. There will always be some who assure themselves that they are doing things properly because they are obeying the precise letter of “the law.” And it never ends there! For those who think and operate like the Pharisees, there will always be a tendency to nitpick the (self-determined) failures of others.

At some point on the spiritual journey, most of us become hyper-aware of “the rules” and work hard to conform ourselves, our behavior, our habits, to those rules. Saying specific prayers, attending Mass, confessing our sins, and practicing other devotions are good things! But the enemy can turn these good things into emblems of (self-determined) righteousness, and even tempt us to think we are better than others. We may even be tempted to look down on others or begin to nitpick inessential details. This is not the point of the rules the Church gives us!

If we do these “good things” just to “be good Catholics”, we are missing the essential thing. Religion is not about following rules (though the rules are certainly the guardrails that keep us on the road and not in the ditch!). All of the many practices and devotions in the Church have one essential goal: to help us encounter and love Jesus Christ, who alone is holy!

We are made to glorify HIM, and not ourselves.

The Pharisees were glorifying THEMSELVES, and not God.

In their (self-determined) righteousness, the Pharisees refused to let Jesus’ transforming love heal their hardened hearts so that their lives could open up to the unimaginably broad horizons of God’s will for them. We can do the same thing – God has given us a free will that makes self-determination possible, but what we determine for ourselves will always be so much smaller, so cramped and limited, compared to what God wills for us. Let’s determine to open ourselves and offer ourselves as completely as we can to Him, trusting that He wants more for us than we can imagine!

Lord, I give everything to you and I accept everything that You send, knowing that Your love for me is greater than my weakness and littleness, and will never fail me. Amen.

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Manno, https://pixabay.com/photos/enslaved-monument-stone-figure-209565/

Daily Prayer for January 18

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials…Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:2,12, RSV

Lord our God, be with us. Touch us with your Spirit so that our hearts may receive something from you. Let us find joy even in a life of struggle and temptation. Let us find joy in every need we face, even in the agony of death. Protect us through your Word, and let it always be a light to us so that we can follow you and do your will. Be with us on all our ways. Guide everything with your hand until the goal for all humankind is reached and we may rejoice over all the trials and testing because in the end the glorious prize can be won. Amen.

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Memorial of Saint Anthony. Abbot

Reading I 1 Sm 15:16-23

Samuel said to Saul:
“Stop! Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
Saul replied, “Speak!” 
Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem,
are you not leader of the tribes of Israel?
The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying,
‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction.
Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’
Why then have you disobeyed the LORD?
You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD.”
Saul answered Samuel:  “I did indeed obey the LORD
and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me.
I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban.
But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen,
the best of what had been banned,
to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal.”
But Samuel said:
            “Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
            as in obedience to the command of the LORD?
            Obedience is better than sacrifice,
                        and submission than the fat of rams.
            For a sin like divination is rebellion,
                        and presumption is the crime of idolatry.
            Because you have rejected the command of the LORD,
                        he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”

Responsorial Psalm 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

R.        (23b)  To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
            for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
            no goats out of your fold.”
R.        To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
            and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
            and cast my words behind you?”
R.        To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
            Or do you think that I am like yourself?
            I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
            and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R.        To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Alleluia Hb 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
 but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
 

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Celebrating His Presence!

 Can one pour old wine into new wineskins?

Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?

Today’s Gospel is one of celebration! Weddings and wine and the glory of being in the presence of our dear Savior- Oh My! For such happy occasions on Earth cannot begin to compare to the Glory of that offered to us by the true presence of living alongside our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lives! 

While 2000 years ago Christ may have breathed and ate alongside His disciples and the inhabitants of Israel, to this day currently, He is always here with us. We don’t ever need to be lost or afraid, but can rejoice that His word continues to live. More than anywhere else, we can encounter the great joy and peace He offers in the Holy sacrifice of the Mass. Are you mindful of Christ’s real presence when you receive him in Holy Communion? How blessed are we to be able to participate in the Mass, Christ’s union with His love, the Church!

Let us always remember that the will of the Lord is Always Great! Christ, who calms the storm, who heals the sick, wants us to be with Him. Whether through prayer, or the physical act of attending Mass, celebrate His love that lives with us today and always. 

Contact the author

Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Juan Pablo Arias, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/3694-cuerpo-sangre-cristo

Daily Prayer for January 17

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we need never feel forsaken. We thank you that we are led and guided by your hand. We thank you for all we have received from you, your care for our bodies, for our material needs, and for our inner life. We praise you, O God! Continue to lead us, we pray. Continue to work among us so that we can all see and come to know that the Good Shepherd is leading us. Amen.

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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I Is 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
   for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
   and her victory like a burning torch.

Nations shall behold your vindication,
   and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
   pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
   a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
   or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
   and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
   and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
   your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
   so shall your God rejoice in you.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10

R. (3) Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
            sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
            among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
            give to the LORD glory and praise;
            give to the LORD the glory due his name! 
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Worship the LORD in holy attire.
            Tremble before him, all the earth;
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
            He governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Reading II 1 Cor 12:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Alleluia Cf. 2 Thes 2:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called us through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it. 
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Who Knows

The Wedding Feast at Cana is one of the more well known Scripture passages. This is Jesus’ first public miracle in the Gospel of John, albeit a reluctant one. As I reflected on this passage, I found myself drawn in by the sheer number of people at play in it. 

There are the obvious characters – Jesus and Mary. Then there’s the wedding couple, the disciples, the guests and the head waiter. There are also the servants. There’s a whole lot of activity in these few verses. Mary comes to Jesus, He protests. The servants have to fill very large pots with water (for a second time as these were already used once for the guests to purify themselves before the meal), the miracle itself and the drinking that followed. It is easy to get caught up in the anticipation of the moment, Scripture coming to life in our mind’s eye. 

In the midst of the swirl and joy of the new wine, I found the extra note in v.9 about the servants to be most fascinating. While yes, this was Jesus’ first public miracle, who exactly knew about it? Not the head waiter. Which means not the couple or the guests. We assume the disciples knew, but aren’t told by the Gospel writer. Who, precisely, knew about the miracle of water turned into wine? The servants and Mary. Only those who actively participated in the miracle knew what had happened. 

It should not come as a surprise that Jesus chose to reveal His power to the lowly, to the poor, rather than to the guests. He could have easily turned this miracle into a show of His great power, commanding the vessels be placed in the center of the party for all to see. Though Mary isn’t specifically mentioned after her request, how could she not know? She doesn’t announce her son’s greatness, boasting in His accomplishments. Rather she, I imagine, sits quietly in the background, marveling at His generosity as she cups her miracle wine. 

This being His first miracle, I see Jesus setting the tone for what is to come. His miracles are for all people, even those who serve, especially those who serve. The servants followed Jesus’ request, though I’m sure they did not understand it. Their obedience was rewarded with knowledge others only learned of later. 

What is Jesus asking of you today? What task is repetitive, simple, or unglamorous to your eyes? Could it be that Jesus is waiting for your vessel to be filled so that He can transform it into something miraculous? Let’s all spend today being faithful to the calling Jesus has given to us, offering it to Him with open hands. Let Jesus take your work today and transform it for His purpose and glory.

Contact the author

Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at DailyGraces.net.

Feature Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-white-long-sleeve-shirt-holding-clear-glass-pitcher-with-water-4965571/

Daily Prayer for January 16

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, we come before you and thank you with all our hearts. You know all that we are thankful for. Continue to sustain us, we pray, and give us strength for the paths on which you lead us. Even when we must suffer and fight long, hard battles, we know that everything has its right purpose and will still lead us to your goal. For all this we praise and thank you. Protect us in mind, heart, and spirit. Keep us courageous, and lift us above all discouragement through your Spirit, who will renew our lives forevermore. Amen.

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