Friday, May 31, 2013

Mary brought joy to her cousin's home, because she brought Christ.

“In the mystery of the Annunciation and the Visitation, Mary is the very model of the life we should lead. First of all, she welcomed Jesus in her existence; then, she shared what she had received.” – Mother Teresa

Gospel text: (LK 1:39-56)
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

How is it that St. John the Baptist, even in his mother’s womb, was so incredibly joyful just to be in the presence of Jesus? Additionally, why am I not leaping for joy every time I walk into a church, into Jesus’s physical presence? I walk into Jesus’s company with lots of different emotions, but I can’t remember a time when I was so filled with joy that I wanted to jump up and down. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is a common experience among most Christians.

But why?

First and foremost, be patient. Jesus knows what he is doing, believe me. Would you be reading this reflection if you weren’t convinced of that fact? Our call during this Feast of the Visitation is not to get frustrated that we can’t feel the joy John the Baptist felt. Instead, we are invited to open ourselves up in our relationship with Jesus so that we might one day experience that type of joy in his presence.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

“Feed your faith and starve your doubts.”

"Faith embraces many truths which seem to contradict each other ...This then is faith: God felt by the heart, not by our reason." - Blaise Pascal

Gospel Text: (MK 10:46-52 )
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,
Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,
sat by the roadside begging.
On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out and say,
“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”
Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
Immediately he received his sight
and followed him on the way.

Imagine that you’re driving alone through a thick, dense fog and you can’t see past your windshield. You begin to drive slowly, telling yourself, “I want to see! I want to see!” Now imagine driving through that fog for a month, a year, or even ten years. Can you see yourself in Bartimaeus’ shoes now? A blind man, he was reduced to a life of lonely begging, with no one to help him navigate the darkness around him. But when he heard Jesus coming, he put aside his despair and cried out for help.

The same Jesus who passed by Bartimaeus is alive. The Good News is that no matter what has happened in our past, Jesus walks into the dusty streets of our lives this day. We simply need the eyes of living faith to see Him and the renewed heart to follow Him on the way. Prayer and a Sacramental life (Eucharist and Reconciliation) is the fuel which keeps living faith alive and keeps our eyes open to see. Where is Jesus passing through in our own lives? He always shows up for those who have their spiritual eyes opened to see Him. How about in our workplace? How about in our relationships? How about in our families? Are we running out to meet Him?

Maybe you need him to help you put more order into your life so that you are more faithful to prayer—so that you can see Jesus more clearly. Maybe you need him to remove the distractions that are pulling you in so many different directions—so that you can focus on his plan for your life. Or maybe you need him to set you free from anger, unforgiveness, or resentment—so that you can see him in your neighbors. Whatever it is, cry out to Jesus. Keep on asking, just as Bartimaeus did.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

“You cannot exalt God and yourself at the same time.”

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.” - Mother Teresa

Gospel Text: ( MK10:32-45)
The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem,
and Jesus went ahead of them.
They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them
what was going to happen to him.
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man
will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death
and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him,
spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death,
but after three days he will rise.”
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
came to Jesus and said to him,
‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him,
“Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, ‘We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The chalice that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

When I read this gospel, I found myself subconsciously judging James and John. James and John want to sit on either side of Christ in heaven. I even went so far as to think: “How stupid were you James and John…don’t you get it? Christ is about humility. You can’t ask for that kind of honor!” Then, I reflected on the world they came from. Every privilege in their society was allocated based on honor. Huge respect stemmed from where they sat at the table.

Is our present world really any different?

Then, I looked at my own life and a few things came to mind regarding how our society judges respect and honor. The first thing that comes to mind is corporate titles and salary. We all think about them. What company do you work for, did you say Goldman Sachs? How much was your bonus last year? What grad school did you go too? What town do you live in? Wait - are you getting your MD, JD, MBA, or your PhD?

The more I reflected, the more I realized that I am just as guilty as James and John in wanting a share of honor. So what now? Christ’s gospel today is designed to bring us back to our senses.

Our new Pope, Pope Francis is an excellent example to follow when we read this gospel. Pope Francis was so humble that he rode the city bus to work. As a Cardinal he lived in an apartment, and insisted upon cooking his own food. He even lost the position of Pope to Cardinal Ratzinger during the last papal conclave. Honor and power stem from Pope Francis’s humility. He certainly did not grow up with the intention of becoming the Pope. Likewise, we cannot live our lives for the sheer purpose of seeking power. We have to live our lives as a gift of humility. If power and honor follow our humility, great. If not, God the father has a place at the heavenly banquet “allotted just for you,” and guess what? It won’t matter what your title was or what honors you achieved. The only thing that will matter is how deeply you humbled yourself loving those around you.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

To sacrifice is to love….To sacrifice joyfully is to sacrifice with love

I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me, and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.” - Mother Teresa

Gospel Text: (MK 10:28-31)
Peter began to say to Jesus,
‘We have given up everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.
But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Today, just like that landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard, the Lord is seeking disciples, followers and friends.

We are each called through Baptism to share of our selves, our blessings, and our talents with God. I interpret this as God asking us to give our gifts to him through presenting them to our fellow brothers and sisters. Sometimes this is through little acts of service here and there, but there is always an underlying call to promote justice to get at the root cause of people’s suffering.

God calls us to promote justice in our families and communities, which is a very hard thing to do. Most of the times, when people try to promote justice, they are met by very powerful resistance. It is easy to get discouraged when people tell us, “You won’t be able to change that. It’s always been that way. You may as well just not try...”

Just as Jesus showed by example, to die for another is the greatest sacrifice, the greatest act of love, we each must discern how we are called to sacrifice of ourselves in the service of God. The closer we get to God by living a sacramental life (Eucharist and frequent Confession), the more we are willing to give of ourselves through God’s grace. Some people are called to sacrifice money and power in order to promote love and justice, others are called to sacrifice a comfortable lifestyle, and others are even called to be martyrs, like many of the saints - to die so that others may live in a more peaceful world.

Whether big or small, once we make those sacrifices, and promote that love, God promises that we will be fulfilled, and we will be more fully human than ever before.

Are we prepared to make that gamble in faith, trusting in his assurance?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Nothing of spiritual significance comes without sacrifice

“Self-sacrifice is the real miracle out of which all the reported miracles grow.”  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Gospel Text: MK 10:17-27)
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”

Many of us are like the man who ran up to Jesus and asked Him about everlasting life (Mk 10:17). We have kept the commandments since our childhood (Mk 10:20). We have been raised in a Christian family. Like the young man, we have "many possessions" (Mk 10:22). Also, we are not sure whether we have everlasting life.

Jesus says to each of us the same words He said to the young man: "There is one thing more you must do" (Mk 10:21). For each of us, there is a certain act of faith which would express our total surrender to the Lord. Jesus told the young man to sell what he had and give to the poor (Mk 10:21). Zacchaeus gave half of His belongings to the poor (Lk 19:8). Matthew quit His job (Mt 9:9). St. Francis of Assisi kissed a leper. The one more thing for you may be to evangelize, go to Confession, tithe, change your lifestyle, have "one more" child, forgive, apologize, quit smoking, read the Bible, go to Mass daily, fast and do penance, etc.

Have the love and courage to ask the Lord: "Is there one thing more I must do? If so, what is it?"

Sunday, May 26, 2013

“The Trinity: One in Three, Three in One"

"The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life.  It is the mystery of God in himself.  It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them.  It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the hierarchy of the truths of faith" - Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234

(Gospel Text: JN 16:12-15)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you."

God is mysterious.  We have to accept this fact.  We cannot think that we can completely understand God. 

Most people know there is a God. Some people even experience that God is present, loving, and/or personal. Others only sense God as a force. Those people who are aware of God as a person know they can reject God by sinning. They sometimes know when they're not at peace with God. Then they feel a need to get right with God, to be justified (Rm 5:1). Few people experience much more of God than this, but there is much, much more of God. Jesus said to His disciples: "I have much more to tell you" (Jn 16:12).

God is Trinity, three Persons in one God. God is a family. God has become a human being. This God-made-Man is Jesus, Who is fully God and fully Man. There is so much more to God than our experiences. The holiest saints who have ever lived have only just begun to know God. "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9).

On this Trinity Sunday, may we devote more of our energy to developing as deep a personal relationship with the Trinity as possible. While we cannot even begin to fathom the mystery of God, we do know that he is always with us.  The gift of faith that we have received at our baptism helps us to live in his presence and know that he is always with us.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Marital love is a reflection of how God loves. It is free, total, faithful and fruitful."

The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family. The family is placed at the center of the great struggle between good and evil, between life and death, between love and all that is opposed to love. – Pope John Paul II

(Gospel text: MK 10:1-12 )
Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan.
Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom,
he again taught them.
The Pharisees approached him and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
They replied,
“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them,
“Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.
He said to them,
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.”

Today’s reading from Mass was about marriage, Catholic marriage to be exact. Being that I am getting married soon, this reflection is rather personal, but no less important for others to read and meditate upon. At least I think so anyway……………………………

In preparing for marriage this September, I imagine hearing from the guests at the wedding: “This is your special day.”

But I disagree! “It is not “my” day.” This September 8th, my future wife Sabryna and I have come to stop thinking about ourselves and begin to start to think of others!

Marriage like Holy Orders is one of the sacraments of service. The Catechism tells us that these sacraments are not for ourselves, but “are directed towards the salvation of others…They confer a special mission in the Church….”

What is the mission of marriage? The Church has always spoken of marriage as having two purposes – the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.

The sacrament exists for the salvation of others and the first person you need to save is the one beside you. Husband and wife must care for each other in many ways: pooling finances, make meals for each other, clean the house together, caring for each other when they are sick, and listening to one another when they are frustrated or lonely. But ultimately the most important thing we must do for one another is to care for each others souls. If we use terms like the “good” of the spouses – the greatest good is that we are saved, that we go to heaven. It is our mission to help each other get to heaven.

We must pray for one another; Pray the Rosary with each other; Go to Mass together as a family; Go to Eucharistic Adoration together; Go to confession even if the other procrastinates or is distracted; Set a good example for each other, reminding each other of Gospel values and the commandments; Correct one another with gentleness and humility; Encourage each other to strive farther in overcoming selfishness; and living our lives in love for others.

Trying to get each other into heaven probably seems like a full time task in and of itself. However, this is not the only mission the Church gives us – the second mission we receive on our wedding day is the procreation and education of children.

We pray today that God will bless our marriage with children.

Today people think of having children as an entirely personal affair. But there are very few decisions that we will make that will have the same impact on the world around us. Each of us is here because of the generosity and dedication of our parents. Each new child that comes into our world is another member of society who we need to care for when they are sick or poor or in need – but more importantly they are another person to contribute to the good of society. To be one more helping hand to those who are poor, or sick, or in need. Society depends upon members to thrive – and the Church depends upon its members to thrive. We speak of a vocations crisis – where are priests and religious to come from if not from Catholic families? We complain about the lack of good Catholic politicians, doctors, or businesspeople – where are they going to come from – from generous Catholic families.

The Catholic family’s job is not merely to “make babies” it is to form saints. Catholic couples are given the task of helping their children to know and love God – to pray, to share, to sacrifice, do penance, forgive. We must help them approach the sacraments with faith – to come to confession, to pray to Jesus after Holy Communion. We must help them to discover their vocation in life.

These tasks may seem intimidating – but God called us to this great mission. He has promised to give us the graces we need to live our vocation to the fullness.

So this September 8th, our wedding day is not “our day” – It is a day to dedicate our lives to others – to my spouse; to the children we pray God will send us – to the Church.

But it would be unfair to say that marriage does not contribute to your own happiness, our own salvation. The gospel teaches us that “it is in losing ones life that one finds it”. By giving yourself generously in the task the Church gives to each and every one of us, we will find abundant happiness – today, tomorrow and for eternity.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

“A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)

Scripture Text: (SIR 5:1-8)

Rely not on your wealth;

say not: “I have the power.”

Rely not on your strength

in following the desires of your heart.

Say not: “Who can prevail against me?”

or, “Who will subdue me for my deeds?”

for God will surely exact the punishment.

Say not: “I have sinned, yet what has befallen me?”

for the Most High bides his time.

Of forgiveness be not overconfident,

adding sin upon sin.

Say not: “Great is his mercy;

my many sins he will forgive.”

For mercy and anger alike are with him;

upon the wicked alights his wrath.

Delay not your conversion to the LORD,

put it not off from day to day.

For suddenly his wrath flames forth;

at the time of vengeance you will be destroyed.

Rely not upon deceitful wealth,

for it will be no help on the day of wrath.

“Surely the Lord understands.” How often have you thought this way about a temptation you were dealing with? “God is compassionate. He knows how hard it is for me to overcome this sin. I shouldn’t be so tough on myself.” While there may be some truth to statements like these, today’s first reading at Mass (SIR 5:1-8) offers a necessary balance. And while it is a classic example of dramatic overstatement, today’s Gospel reading strengthens Sirach’s words: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off” (Mark 9:43).

Both of today’s readings tell us that sin is serious and that God takes it seriously. Yes, he is our loving, merciful Father. But we shouldn’t let this truth reduce our image of God to some kind of jovial, easygoing caretaker. Like any good father, he has high expectations of his children. He knows our weaknesses, but he also expects us to try our hardest to overcome them. He expects us to work with him as he seeks to conform us to the image of his Son.

We all have difficult areas of our lives. Maybe you have a bad temper. Or maybe you find it hard not to be critical of certain types of people. What is your disposition toward those challenges? If you are seriously trying to work on them, if you are regularly confessing them when you fall, and if you are actively seeking God’s grace to overcome them, then you can be one-hundred percent confident of God’s mercy. If, on the other hand, you have a casual attitude about sin, if you dismiss it as “no big deal,” then something needs to change.

Today’s readings ask us to examine our attitudes, both toward sin and toward God’s mercy. Do you take God for granted? Do you tend to gloss over your sins? Jesus doesn’t really want you to cut off your hand or pluck out your eye. But he does want you to stop grasping at temptation, and he does want you to shield your eyes from sinful things. His mercy is meant to help you do just that—not simply to pardon your faults.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

"Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you." --Saint Jerome

 Scripture Text: (PS 119:165, 168, 171, 172, 174, 175)
R. (165a) O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.
Those who love your law have great peace,
and for them there is no stumbling block.
R. O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.
I keep your precepts and your decrees,
for all my ways are before you.
R. O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.
My lips pour forth your praise,
because you teach me your statutes.
R. O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.
May my tongue sing of your promise,
for all your commands are just.
R. O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.
I long for your salvation, O LORD,
and your law is my delight.
R. O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.
Let my soul live to praise you,
and may your ordinances help me.
R. O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.

Among the many desires we have in life, surely one of the most significant and universal is the desire to experience peace.  In the midst of life’s countless headaches and hassles, we long for a time and place where we can simply be at peace.  As people of faith, we know that our lives are not immune to troubles and conflicts, simply because we profess the name of Jesus. 

But where can we find at least some oases of refreshment?  Where can we find peace?

“O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.”  The words of today’s responsorial psalm at Mass reveal that a great measure of peace is promised to those who love the law of the Lord.  In its simplest form, the verse uncovers for us the truth that often our lack of peace comes from a reluctance to embrace limits, a search for “freedom” defined as lack of external constraint.  Living within the loving bounds set for us by the Lord shepherds us from the valley of darkness into the green pastures of peace.

For us who profess faith in Jesus, however, there is more.  Jesus, who came not to abolish but to bring the law to perfection, is himself the source of peace; he is our law, our pattern of activity, but also the one who brings peace.  We are reminded of Jesus’ farewell speech to his apostles:  “Peace I leave with you; my own peace I give you.” 

Peace is not an attribute, a lack of being upset.  Peace is communion with Jesus and his promises.

Where today are we experiencing headaches and hassles?  Where are we without peace?  Today’s scripture invites us to ask if we have been trying to live without limits, boundaries and all that comes from the law of the Lord.  In addition, we may need to make the time to go to Jesus with our lack of peace, relating to him all that is upsetting us, or asking him to reveal the source of our unrest.  In all circumstances we remember the promises: 

Those who love the Lord’s law have great peace; peace comes from being one with Jesus.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Trust. And trust like a child. Easy to say. Hard to do.

Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be and becoming that person. - Saint Therese of Lisieux

(Gospel Text: Mk 9:30-37)
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,
but he did not wish anyone to know about it. 
He was teaching his disciples and telling them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men 
and they will kill him,
and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” 
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?” 
But they remained silent.
For they had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest. 
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first, 
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” 
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, 
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

The question for us today is not whether we have ambitions - we all have ambitions - but what our ambitions are.  Are they for self-aggrandizement, for our getting ahead at the expense of others, or are they for the Lord?

It's enlightening to look at the ambitions of many of the saints. St. Ignatius of Loyola had an ambition to do everything for God's glory.  St. Francis Xavier had the ambition to bring whole nations to the Lord. St. Teresa of Avila had the ambition to reform the Carmelites so that it might sing forever of God's glory. Blessed Mother Teresa had the ambition to satiate Jesus' infinite thirst for souls.

Those who are striving to serve the Lord are striving for the Lord's glory, not their own. They trust the Lord to figure out where they're most needed, whether it's in a very prominent position in the eyes of the world or an insignificant one. Their ambition is to do the Lord's will, knowing that, if the Lord wants, he can take that humble service and multiply it to serve the world. 

Today, Jesus reminds us that he is to be handed over to men who will kill him, but then he will rise. He told us that we, too, if we are truly his followers, will deny ourselves, pick up our Cross each day, and follow him with love on the path to Calvary. And today he wants to strengthen us to have a similar holy ambition.

As we go from prayer to the other things on our agenda today, let's ask God's help to reflect on today’s gospel from Mass. Let's ask for the holy ambition to follow Jesus up close along this path and to aspire to help to bring everyone else we know and we'll serve today in our work to join us on that road to heaven through simple gestures of love put into action.