Monday, November 30, 2015

Daily Thought For December 1, 2015

Living In Intimacy with God


Luke 10:21–24


  “At that very moment he rejoiced.…”

In the verses that precede this Scripture passage the seventy-two disciples have just returned from their mission. They are rejoicing for all they did in Jesus’ name. At this Jesus tells them they should rejoice because “their names are written in heaven.” Immediately following this we read, “At that very moment he rejoiced [in] the holy Spirit.…”

Jesus lives in such continuous intimacy with the Father and the Holy Spirit that he does not hesitate to praise God. This is not one of those moments when Jesus goes off to pray by himself. Instead, in the midst of Jesus’ realization of the Father’s work, the Holy Spirit stirs in him and he praises the Father aloud.

The author of the Gospel relates that Jesus praises God with the seventy-two gathered around him. The immediacy of his prayer tells us that Jesus is not ashamed to show his intimate relationship with God to those who are gathered there. How would we ever know the level of intimacy in the Trinity if Jesus had not allowed us to see this moment of prayer? In his own profoundly simple manner, Jesus allows us to glimpse what joy and happiness are. They are by-products of a life lived in communion with God.

This moment of intense and spontaneous prayer also reveals to us that we must share the faith we have received. Just as Jesus shares this intimate moment with his disciples and us, we are called to share our faith with our brothers and sisters.

Being Christ-like doesn’t mean showing off for others by enumerating the times I pray or do some corporal or spiritual work of mercy—but it does mean living publicly a faith-filled witness. Am I living as Jesus did? Am I living a life of faith in public action or do I keep my faith private and to myself?


Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I wish to live in deeper communion with you during this Advent season. I humbly ask for the grace to place my relationship with you at my center so that you may touch and permeate all I say and do. In seeing me, may people truly see you at work in me and give you praise. May I not hesitate to recognize your work in me and in my brothers and sisters, and may I give you praise for it.


Permeate me and mold me, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Daughters of Saint Paul. (2009). Advent Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 14–15). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Daily Thought For November 30, 2015

Advent — Being Awake For God

In the thirteenth chapter of the letter Saint Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome he says: “The hour has come … the night is far spent, day is near. Let us, therefore, cast aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us conduct ourselves honorably as in daylight, not in revelries and drunkenness, without lewdness and debauchery, without quarrels and dissension. No, put on the Lord Jesus Christ.…” Advent, accordingly, means to get up, to be awake, to rise from sleep! What is Saint Paul trying to say? What he means by “night” he expresses clearly through terms such as “revelries, drunkenness, lewdness, and quarrels”. The nighttime orgy with everything it implies is for him a representation of man in darkness, man asleep. It serves him as an image of the pagan world as such, a world drowning in materialism, persisting in the darkness of its blindness to the truth, and fast asleep in spite of all its loud and hectic activity, because it ignores the essentials of our vocation as humans. The nocturnal orgy as an image of a world gone wrong—are we not compelled to realize, with dismay, how accurately Saint Paul describes here our own times as well, times that are sliding back into paganism? To rise from sleep—this means to rise from conformity with such a world and with such times, courageous in virtue, courageous in faith to shake off the dream that prevents us from recognizing our vocation and our highest potential. The songs of Advent, which we hear ever so often during these weeks, could perhaps become for us beacons of light that show us the way and make us lift up our eyes to acknowledge promises so much greater than those based on money, power, and pleasure. To be awake for God and for our neighbor—this is the meaning of the Advent call to stay awake. Such staying awake finds the light and makes the world a brighter place.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (pp. 379–380). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Daily Thought For November 29, 2015

Love of Neighbor

We must consider our neighbor in relationship to God, Who wants us to love him ... and we are to be interested in him even when this is distasteful for us. The resistance of the inferior part of our soul will be overcome by the frequent performance of good acts. To this end, however, we must center our prayers and meditations of the love of our neighbor, having first implored the love of God. We must ask for the grace to love especially those we do not like very much. 

St. Francis de Sales (Letters 217; O. XIII, pp. 268-270) 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Daily Thought For November 28, 2015

Victorious Living

RECEIVE MY GLORY-STRENGTH. When ongoing problems require you to stick it out over the long haul, your faith sometimes falters. That's when you resort to grimly gritting your teeth—simply passing time in a negative frame of mind. This is not the way I want you to deal with difficulties. I am sovereign over the circumstances of your life, so there are always opportunities to be found in them. Sometimes those opportunities are so obvious you can't miss seeing them. At other timesespecially when the journey is hard and seems endless-you have to search for hidden treasure. Do not be like the man who hid his master's talent in the ground because he was disgruntled with his circumstances. He gave up and took the easy way out: blaming his hard situation rather than making the most of his opportunity. The truth is, the more difficult your situation, the more treasure there is for you to discover in it. 

I gladly give you Glory-strength; it is limitless and freely available to each of My followers. It is exceedingly potent because the Spirit Himself empowers youstrengthening you with Power in your inner being. Moreover, Glory-strength enables you to keep on enduring the unendurable. Since this strength has no limits, there is more than enough of it to spill over into Joy! 

We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul-not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy. 

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power ... and his recompense accompanies him. 
ISAIAH 40:10 

''And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours." 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 

EPHESIANS 3:16-17 

from Jesus Lives—Seeing His Love In Your Life  by Sarah Young pp. 288-289

Friday, November 20, 2015

Daily Thought For November 20, 2015

An Important Point

“If God were our one and only desire we would not be so easily upset when our opinions do not find outside acceptance.”

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Á Kempis

**The next Daily Thought will be on Thursday, November 26, 2015**

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Daily Thought For November 19, 2015

Total Freedom

COME TO ME WHEN YOU ARE HURTING, AND I WILL SHARE YOUR PAIN. Come to Me when you are joyful, and I will share your Joy—multiplying it many times over. 

I invite you to come to Me just as you are-no matter what condition you're in. You don't have to clean up your act first, since I already know the worst about you. When you're hurting, you want to be with someone who understands you without condemning you. When you're happy, you delight in being with someone who loves you enough to celebrate with you. I understand you compassionately and love you exuberantly, so bring more and more of yourself to Me. 

Most people are selective about which parts of themselves they share with Me. Some hesitate to bring Me the traits they consider shameful. Others are so used to living with painful feelings—loneliness, fear, guilt-that it never occurs to them to ask for help in dealing with these things. Still others get so preoccupied with their struggles that they forget I'm even here. 

There are hurting parts of you that I desire to heal. However, some of them have been with you so long that you consider them part of your identity. You carry them with you wherever you go, with little awareness. On occasions when you have brought some damaged portion of yourself to Me, I have helped you walk in newfound freedom. However, you are so addicted to certain painful patterns that you cannot easily break free from them. Only repeatedly exposing them to My healing Presence will bring you long-term freedom. When that happens, you will be released to experience Joy in much fuller measure. I will share your Joy and multiply it many times over. 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ROMANS 8:1 

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 
PSALM 126:3 

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. PSALM 118:5 

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." JOHN 8:36 

from Jesus Lives by Sarah Young pp.196-197

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Daily Thought For November 18, 2015

Important Advice For Today

Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.

St. Catherine of Siena

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Daily Thought For November 17, 2015

Loving Jesus Above All Things

BLESSED is he who appreciates what it is to love Jesus and who despises himself for the sake of Jesus. Give up all other love for His, since He wishes to be loved alone above all things.

Affection for creatures is deceitful and inconstant, but the love of Jesus is true and enduring. He who clings to a creature will fall with its frailty, but he who gives himself to Jesus will ever be strengthened.

Love Him, then; keep Him as a friend. He will not leave you as others do, or let you suffer lasting death. Sometime, whether you will or not, you will have to part with everything. Cling, therefore, to Jesus in life and death; trust yourself to the glory of Him who alone can help you when all others fail.

Your Beloved is such that He will not accept what belongs to another—He wants your heart for Himself alone, to be enthroned therein as King in His own right. If you but knew how to free yourself entirely from all creatures, Jesus would gladly dwell within you.

You will find, apart from Him, that nearly all the trust you place in men is a total loss. Therefore, neither confide in nor depend upon a wind-shaken reed, for “all flesh is grass” and all its glory, like the flower of grass, will fade away.

You will quickly be deceived if you look only to the outward appearance of men, and you will often be disappointed if you seek comfort and gain in them. If, however, you seek Jesus in all things, you will surely find Him. Likewise, if you seek yourself, you will find yourself—to your own ruin. For the man who does not seek Jesus does himself much greater harm than the whole world and all his enemies could ever do.

Thomas à Kempis. (1996). The Imitation of Christ (pp. 73–74). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Daily Thought For November 16, 2015

Open Our Eyes


Luke 18:35–43


“The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more.…”

The Gospels often call our attention to the way that society treats the marginalized, in contrast to the way Jesus chooses to treat them. His genuine love, concern, and gentleness give us an example to embrace if we wish to call ourselves Christians. We know this, but we lose our way at times and seem to forget it, much like the crowd in today’s Gospel.

At first, those in the crowd give the blind man the information that he seeks. They tell him that Jesus is the one causing all the uproar. But when the blind man tries to get Jesus’ attention, they try to keep him quiet. In a sense they are turning on him; they want him to become “invisible” again.

The Gospel tells us that the blind man is sitting by the side of the road. Those in the crowd want to leave him there—they have their own agenda that day and it doesn’t include this blind man stealing Jesus’ attention from them. This reminds us of something else we might see on the side of the road today—rubbish. We leave what we no longer want, what we wish to forget, or what we have no use for on the side of the road, whether it’s our garbage, an old couch, or a beggar.

Maybe each person in the crowd is hoping that Jesus will hone in on his or her need. Maybe the crowd simply wants to hear what Jesus is saying. Perhaps some of them have heard Jesus preach elsewhere or have heard others speak about him, but they are missing the point of discipleship. To be a disciple is to be concerned not just for one’s own spiritual journey and formation, but to be aware of the others who are either on that journey or are being left on the side of the road.


Sometimes, Lord, I get too absorbed in my needs and wants, and I fail to see the others on the road with me who are asking for my help and for yours. All these people are not just isolated individuals who happen to be traveling on the same path. You call us to something deeper. You invite us to notice one another, just as you notice us. Thank you for giving me to them, and them to me, so that we may be companions as we learn about love by loving one another. Amen.


Lord, thank you for the companions you have given me on this journey.

Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 282–283). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Daily Thought For November 15, 2015

Doing Our Best To Lean On God

One of the most important lessons for the spiritual life is that we must try to maintain unaltered evenness of spirit. We need to remain constantly fixed in our desire to seek God alone, no matter if everything within us and around us is confused. Our heart must unceasingly lean on the love of God, its Creator, whether our soul is overwhelmed with sorrow or with joy, with peace or anxiety, with temptation or with repose. 

St. Francis de Sales

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Daily Thought For November 14, 2015

In Light of Paris An Important Reminder 

Looked at closely, nihilism and the fundamentalism of which we are speaking share an erroneous relationship to truth: the nihilist denies the very existence of truth, while the fundamentalist claims to be able to impose it by force. Despite their different origins and cultural backgrounds, both show a dangerous contempt for human beings and human life, and ultimately for God himself. Indeed, this shared tragic outcome results from a distortion of the full truth about God: nihilism denies God's existence and his provident presence in history, while fanatical fundamentalism disfigures his loving and merciful countenance, replacing him with idols made in its own image. In analyzing the causes of the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism, consideration should be given, not only to its political and social causes, but also to its deeper cultural, religious and ideological motivations. 

In view of the risks which humanity is facing in our time, all Catholics in every part of the world have a duty to proclaim and embody ever more fully the “Gospel of Peace,” and to show that acknowledgment of the full truth of God is the first, indispensable condition for consolidating the truth of peace. God is love which saves, a loving father who wants to see his children look upon one another as brothers and sisters, working responsibly to place their various talents at the service of the common good of the human family. God is the unfailing source of the hope which gives meaning to personal and community life. God, and God alone, brings to fulfillment every work of good and of peace. History has amply demonstrated that declaring war on God in order to eradicate him from human hearts only leads a fearful and impoverished humanity toward decisions which are ultimately futile. This realization must impel believers in Christ to become convincing witnesses of the God who is inseparably truth and love, placing themselves at the service of peace in broad cooperation with other Christians, the followers of other religions and with all men and women of good will. 

Pope Benedict XVI —December 8, 2006

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Daily Thought For November 13, 2015

Unmasking The Source of Unhappiness

The "spirit of the world" offers many false illusions and parodies of happiness. There is perhaps no darkness deeper than the darkness that enters young people's souls when false prophets extinguish in them the light of faith and hope and love. The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility. 

St. John Paul II

Daily Thought For November 12, 2015

Claim Your Unique Presence In Your Community

Your unique presence in your community is the way God wants you to be present to others. Different people have different ways to be present. You have to know and claim your way. That is why discernment is so important. Once you have an inner knowledge of your true vocation, you have a point of orientation. That will help you decide what to do and what to let go of, what to say and what to remain silent about, when to go out and when to stay home, who to be with and who to avoid. 

When you get exhausted, frustrate, overwhelmed, or run down, your body is saying that you are doing things that are none of your business. God does not require of you what is beyond your ability, what leads you away from God, or what makes you depressed and sad.

God wants you to live for others and to live that presence well. Doing so might include suffering, fatigue, and even moments of great physical or emotional pain, but none of this must ever pull you away from you deepest self and God. 

Henri Nouwen The Inner Voice of Love

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Daily Thought For November 11, 2015

A Prayer For Veterans Day

God of peace,
we pray for those who have served our nation
and have laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories
too painful for the light of day.

We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm's way.
Shield them from danger
and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.
Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Daily Thought For November 10, 2015


UNTIL God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it better thus—perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for without such patience and trial your merits are of little account. Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray that God will consent to help you bear them calmly.

If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not amend, do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants, for God knows well how to turn evil to good. Try to bear patiently with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be, because you also have many a fault which others must endure.

If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves.

If all were perfect, what should we have to suffer from others for God’s sake? But God has so ordained, that we may learn to bear with one another’s burdens, for there is no man without fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to himself nor wise enough. Hence we must support one another, console one another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the measure of every man’s virtue is best revealed in time of adversity—adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.

Thomas à Kempis. (1996). The Imitation of Christ (pp. 27–28). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Daily Thought For November 9, 2015

God Loves A Cheerful Giver


Mark 12:38–44


“… all she had.…”

In the Gospel readings these past few Sundays, scribes have not fared well. Today Jesus castigates those who, in avarice and lust for prestige, twist the Law to line their own pockets, even at the expense of society’s most vulnerable members—widows. In a different twist, one of those widows unwittingly bests both that crowd and the rich, whose offerings clatter in the treasury boxes that line the Temple walls. As if to sketch the face of true worship, Jesus observes that she “contributed all she had,” not to extol giving that harms the giver, but to laud the offering of the heart.
Chances are, we’ve all been muscled into a donation of some kind. We may have wished that a lighter heart could have accompanied the lighter wallet. Our reluctance may stem less from selfishness than from caution. We want to give to a “worthy cause.” We might even want to control how our contribution—money, time, energy, talent—is appropriated. That may be prudent; after all, in trying to do good with our limited resources we don’t want to feel we’re spinning our wheels. But such clinging can tarnish the Godlike sheen that comes from a spontaneous, lavish outpouring of love. Whether we give or receive, if we look only at the numbers, we miss the Gospel’s point.

Do I resist giving of myself, including my prayer, because no one can guarantee its “success”? Do I compare myself with others and demur, with the excuse that my small contribution won’t make a dent anyway? Our widow doesn’t seem to care either way. What does it matter if others give more? She is free. It only matters that God esteems her gift of the heart. The Gospel story’s paschal/liturgical dimension backlights another sacrificial love: the Crucified/Risen One himself and the Eucharist—one life, one loaf, one cup, emptied for the lives of many.


Jesus, our poor widow couldn’t have known that within a few decades the Temple she had supported would be a failed enterprise, not “one stone left upon another” (Mk 13:2). She gave without calculation or certainty, except for the belief that the God of Israel, her God, deserved all she had and was. May I give like that! In view of the good to be done, what I have, even all of it, seems like a pittance. But I know that’s what you want. In your hands, it’s more than just mine. It’s ours; use it where it’s needed most.


Mary, widowed mother, thank you for giving us your Son—your self.

Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 260–261). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Daily Thought For November 8, 2015


TO RECEIVE MY PEACE, YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR GRASPING, CONTROLLING STANCE TO ONE OF OPENNESS AND TRUST. Grasping and controlling are your means of trying to feel safe. However, such an approach actually hurts you and works against you: The more you manipulate and maneuver for control, the more anxious you become. 

Rather than striving for peace of mind through these means, abandon yourself to Me. My hand is the only thing you can grasp without damaging your soul. Let Me help you open your hands and receive all that I have for you. 

What you do with your body can help or hinder what goes on in your soul. When you realize you are grasping for control, become aware of your body language. Intentionally open your hands, releasing your concerns to Me and inviting Me to take charge. Open your heart and mind as well, as you lift your hands to Me. You are now in a good position to receive My many blessings, not the least of which is awareness of My Presence. 

Enjoy the Peace that flows out from Me while you bask in the Light of My Love. Then, when you move back into your activities, consciously grasp My hand in childlike dependence. For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear; I will help you." 

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 
1 TIMOTHY 2:8 

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 
JOHN 20:19 

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

"For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." 
ISAIAH 41:13 

from Jesus Lives by Sarah Young pp. 156-157

Daily Thought For November 7, 2015


HAVE NO FEAR OF BAD NEWS. I want your heart to be steadfast, trusting in Me-in My unfailing Love. Remember that My Love for you is independent of your performance. So, when you become anxious or fearful, I do not love you less. Having a steadfast heart is an excellent goal, and you are making some progress in this quest. I am like a proud parent watching his baby learn to walk, eager to see you take each step of trust-however small. No matter how unsteadily you walk, I applaud each trust-step as if it were an Olympic feat. When you stumble or fall, I give you time to pull yourself back up. However, if you lift your arms to Me, seeking My help, I cannot resist coming to your aid. 

Looking to Me for help demonstrates genuine trust in Me. It is easy to turn against yourself when you have failed, but this is not pleasing to Me. Some of My children blame others-or Me-for their failures. All of these responses are hurtful and counterproductive. The sooner you turn toward Me, the better. My tender Love can soothe your wounded pride and help you learn from your mistakes. As you sit in ashes of failure, looking up to Me, you grow more humble. You realize that you need Me continually to develop a steadfast heart. In My unfailing Love I will lead you. In My strength I will guide you-all the way to My holy dwelling. 

He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. PSALM 112:7 

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  PSALM 143:8 

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness ... that He may be glorified.  ISAIAH 61:3

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.  EXODUS 15:13 

from Jesus Lives by Sarah Young p.184-185

Friday, November 6, 2015

Daily Thought For November 6, 2015

No More "Eye for an Eye"

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also …” (Mt 5:38–39). To understand this text correctly, we must keep in mind that the Old Testament principle “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Ex 21:24; Lev 24:20; Dt 19:21) is far from being a canonization of vengeance; on the contrary, its purpose is to substitute the principle of justice for the principle of vengeance.… Justice must be safeguarded; but its safeguarding must not degenerate into vengeance.… Jesus does not reject the principle of equality as a legal norm, but his purpose here is to open to men a new dimension of his own character. An absolute and rigid justice becomes a circulus vitiosus, a cycle of retaliations from which there is no escape. In his dealings with us, God has broken through this circle. We are unjust before God; we have turned away from him in pursuit of our own glorification and so we have become subject to death. But God waives the merited punishment and puts something new in its place: healing; our conversion to a renewed Yes to the truth about ourselves. So that this transformation may take place, he goes before us and takes upon himself the pain of our transformation. The Cross of Christ is the real elucidation of these words: not “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, but “transform evil by the power of love.…” In the Cross of Christ, and only there, these words open themselves to us and become revelation. In the company of the Cross, they become a new possibility even for our own lives.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (pp. 78–79). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Daily Thought For November 5, 2015

The Joy of Being Found

There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)

When we hear about the trial of someone accused of a sensational crime, we often feel torn. On the one hand, we want justice and a fair resolution for the families of the victims. But on the other hand, something inside tells us that we should let mercy triumph over judgment.

Today, Jesus tells the parable of a shepherd diligently searching for one lost sheep. He invites us to join him in the search, not in order to punish the stray for wandering from the fold, but in order to bring it back to safety. We understand that we need to be merciful, but we tend to miss the way our acts of mercy can set us free as well as the person we are forgiving.

In her book Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean recounts the story of a father whose child was brutally murdered. The father began with a strong desire to punish the perpetrators. However, he eventually realized that his thirst for vengeance was changing him in ways he didn’t like. Instead of remaining a kind and generous person, he was becoming wary and hateful. He realized that he shouldn’t give a wrongdoer so much power over him. So he began his journey toward forgiveness by interceding for the perpetrators every day and by reaching out to their hurting family. Over time, he saw his own heart soften and his faith grow dramatically.

Aligning ourselves with the Good Shepherd doesn’t always come naturally. Very small children already express a keen awareness of unfairness, especially if they feel they’ve been wronged. They quickly place conditions on their forgiveness: I’ll forgive him only if he asks, if I believe he’s truly sorry for what he did, and if he tries to make it up to me. In other words, I’ll stay here in the sheepcote with my arms folded and wait for him to turn around and come home, humbled and repentant.

You can just imagine the Good Shepherd shaking his head at such behavior. He wants us to forgive unconditionally, just as he forgives us. He knows that as we take small steps in imitation of him, our own straying hearts will change.

“Thank you, Lord, for your great mercy. Please help me extend forgiveness to your other undeserving sheep.”

Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Daily Thought November 1, 2015

The Saints! (Staying Close to Christ)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our Eucharistic celebration began with the exhortation: "Let us all rejoice in the Lord". The liturgy invites us to share in the heavenly jubilation of the Saints, to taste their joy. The Saints are not a small caste of chosen souls but an innumerable crowd to which the liturgy urges us to raise our eyes. This multitude not only includes the officially recognized Saints, but the baptized of every epoch and nation who sought to carry out the divine will faithfully and lovingly. We are unacquainted with the faces and even the names of many of them, but with the eyes of faith we see them shine in God's firmament like glorious stars.

Today, the Church is celebrating her dignity as "Mother of the Saints, an image of the Eternal City" (A. Manzoni), and displays her beauty as the immaculate Bride of Christ, source and model of all holiness. She certainly does not lack contentious or even rebellious children, but it is in the Saints that she recognizes her characteristic features and precisely in them savours her deepest joy.

In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation describes them as "a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues" (Rv 7: 9).

This people includes the Saints of the Old Testament, starting with the righteous Abel and the faithful Patriarch, Abraham, those of the New Testament, the numerous early Christian Martyrs and the Blesseds and Saints of later centuries, to the witnesses of Christ in this epoch of ours.

They are all brought together by the common desire to incarnate the Gospel in their lives under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, the life-giving spirit of the People of God.

But "why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this Solemnity, mean anything to the Saints?". A famous homily of St Bernard for All Saints' Day begins with this question. It could equally well be asked today. And the response the Saint offers us is also timely: "The Saints", he says, "have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs.... But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning" (Disc. 2, Opera Omnia Cisterc. 5, 364ff.).

This, then, is the meaning of today's Solemnity: looking at the shining example of the Saints to reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God's friends. Being a Saint means living close to God, to live in his family. And this is the vocation of us all, vigorously reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council and solemnly proposed today for our attention.

But how can we become holy, friends of God? We can first give a negative answer to this question: to be a Saint requires neither extraordinary actions or works nor the possession of exceptional charisms. Then comes the positive reply: it is necessary first of all to listen to Jesus and then to follow him without losing heart when faced by difficulties. "If anyone serves me", he warns us, "he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honour him" (Jn 12: 26).

Like the grain of wheat buried in the earth, those who trust him and love him sincerely accept dying to themselves. Indeed, he knows that whoever seeks to keep his life for himself loses it, and whoever gives himself, loses himself, and in this very way finds life (cf. Jn 12: 24-25).

The Church's experience shows that every form of holiness, even if it follows different paths, always passes through the Way of the Cross, the way of self-denial. The Saints' biographies describe men and women who, docile to the divine plan, sometimes faced unspeakable trials and suffering, persecution and martyrdom. They persevered in their commitment: "they... have come out of the great tribulation", one reads in Revelation, "they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rv 7: 14). Their names are written in the book of life (cf. Rv 20: 12) and Heaven is their eternal dwelling-place.

The example of the Saints encourages us to follow in their same footsteps and to experience the joy of those who trust in God, for the one true cause of sorrow and unhappiness for men and women is to live far from him.

Holiness demands a constant effort, but it is possible for everyone because, rather than a human effort, it is first and foremost a gift of God, thrice Holy (cf. Is 6: 3). In the second reading, the Apostle John remarks: "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are" (I Jn 3: 1).

It is God, therefore, who loved us first and made us his adoptive sons in Jesus. Everything in our lives is a gift of his love: how can we be indifferent before such a great mystery? How can we not respond to the Heavenly Father's love by living as grateful children? In Christ, he gave us the gift of his entire self and calls us to a personal and profound relationship with him.

Consequently, the more we imitate Jesus and remain united to him the more we enter into the mystery of his divine holiness. We discover that he loves us infinitely, and this prompts us in turn to love our brethren. Loving always entails an act of self-denial, "losing ourselves", and it is precisely this that makes us happy.

Thus, we have come to the Gospel of this feast, the proclamation of the Beatitudes which we have just heard resound in this Basilica.

Jesus says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed those who mourn, the meek; blessed those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful; blessed the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of justice (cf. Mt 5: 3-10).

In truth, the blessed par excellence is only Jesus. He is, in fact, the true poor in spirit, the one afflicted, the meek one, the one hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker. He is the one persecuted for the sake of justice.

The Beatitudes show us the spiritual features of Jesus and thus express his mystery, the mystery of his death and Resurrection, of his passion and of the joy of his Resurrection. This mystery, which is the mystery of true blessedness, invites us to follow Jesus and thus to walk toward it.

To the extent that we accept his proposal and set out to follow him - each one in his own circumstances - we too can participate in his blessedness. With him, the impossible becomes possible and even a camel can pass through the eye of a needle (cf. Mk 10: 25); with his help, only with his help, can we become perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Mt 5: 48).

Homily of Pope Benedict XVI - November 1, 2006

**Please note that The next Daily Thought will be on November 5, 2015**