by Fr. Michael Barry
January 1st. Wednesday
Today is the feast of Mary, the Mother of God. In the gospel today from St. Luke we get There good New Year’s resolution and one that we should adopt and adapt in our lives. It says “ Mary kept all these things in her heart reflecting on them. All these things ere the shepherds account of the Angels message and the whole understanding of who this baby really was. So often God shows us His way and what He is asking of us. But we don’t reflect. We are consumed with instant information and the only true information only comes after reflection. Ultimately God’s way is the only way.
January 2nd Thursday
WE read from the First Letter of St. John who tells us that if we deny that Jesus is the Christ is a liar. By that he means the Jesus is the messiah or the anointed one sent by God. A denial can have many expressions such as putting Jesus in second place in your life or even treating Him as a good person or even claiming to be Christian and not allowing Jesus Christ to be number one in your life. It is a fitting time now at the beginning of the year to honestly confront yourself as to where Jesus is in your life;
Saturday January 4th
Again St. John challenges us. Where are you? In other words are you doing what is right or are you not doing what is right? The problem happens when we consider right that which is obviously wrong. That conduct leads us to self-destruction. We have made it right for ourselves but it is definitely against the law of God. We even know the distinction in our hearts but we are right and no one, I mean no one can tell us differently. The gospel today gives us ample proof because Andrew leaves John the Baptist and follows Jesus and tells his brother Simon Peter . “We have found the Messiah.
Friday January 3rd
The whole emphasis today is on knowing who Jesus Christ really is. In the first reading St. John tells us that we are ’children of God’ and the reason that the world does not know us as such is that they did not know Him, Jesus. In the gospel of St. John we hear john the Baptist crying out that this Jesus is the Lamb of God. It is so misleading sometimes when we know so much about Jesus Christ but that knowledge has not touched our hearts. That knowledge should touch our hearts and then our faith in Him comes to life.
Sunday January 5th
Feast of the Epiphany. Today is the occasion of the visit of the Magi when they had followed a star to find the newborn king.. King Herod was threatened by the infant Jesus and meant to kill Him. Despite al of this the magi found Jesus and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts symbolize kingship (gold), frankincense (Deity) and myrrh ( embalming oil).The Greek word challenges us because it means manifestation and asks us to manifest Jesus Christ in our lives.
Monday January 6th
As you may have noticed we are reading a lot from the first letter of St. John. There is a simple explanation .It is all about god’s love and how we are to follow it and receive what God has for us. Two things are present in the scriptures today. One is keep and observed His commandments and God will hear our prayers, Secondly, repentance leads to union with God.
Tuesday January 7th
There is a key phrase in the first reading from St. John in which he tells us that God has first loved us. It is not so much our love for god but God’s love in us returning to Him. The gospel from St. Mark echoes the same thought when it tells us that God had compassion on the crowd and fed over five thousand people. This is our god and St. John was right when he wrote that God is love. So stop contending or arguing with God . Let God be God and you will be blessed.
Wednesday January 8th
There is a fundamental truth that we need to take to heart and that is that god loves us and that love is there for us at all times. Witness today’s gospel where the disciples are alone in the boat and a storm blows up They are terrified and Jesus comes to them walking on the waters and calms the storm. Do not fight the storms of life alone. Let Jesus help you for only He can calm the storms of your life. Together you can do it.
Thursday January 9th
St. John tells us in the first reading that we cannot have contradictions in our lives. For instance we cannot say that we love God and hate our brother or neighbor at the same time. We cannot say that we believe in God while not showing God any proof of that. We cannot say that we love God and not practice it If you pray God to be loving and honest then you will get rid of the contradictions in your life. Others can see them but you can’t because you are convinced that you are right and God is wrong. What is definitely wrong with that picture.
Friday January 10th
In the gospel today Jesus heals a leper. Leprosy at that time was incurable. Jesus. We too must repeat that and allow God to be god in our lives heals that disease .In the prophets they spoke about the Messiah who would do impossible things. So often we prefer to do it our own way. We argue and contend with god because He won’t listen to our prayer or give us what we want. Remember the hymn “It is no secret what God can do . What He has done for others He will do for you” So join forces with the Lord and let Him do what He wants to do for you and not what you want God to do . there is a difference ,you know
Sunday January 12th
The feast of the Lord’s Baptism. It is confusing for us to understand why the Lord had to be baptized in the first place. Jesus tells John to do it for the sake of righteousness, What does that mean if not to follow the order of human life with God . Remember that Jesus told Nicodemus that one had to be born of water and the Holy Spirit. Also our baptism is necessary to belong to God .It is the basic requirement for the sanctifying grace to enter.
Saturday January 11th
There are two principles hidden in the scriptures today. One in the first reading refers to a sin that cannot be forgiven. By that is meant that the person is either mad at god or does not want forgiveness. He or she may be so caught up in anger or judgment that he or she has shut God out. How can we be forgiven unless e ask for it and know that God’s love will certainly grant it and restore us to a good life. The second principle is that of the gospel where it says “He must increase and I must decrease” If God is to be God He certainly must be first. John the Baptist said that and we follow. Otherwise how can we ask for anything that has eluded us and expect god to grant it.
Monday January 13th
In the gospel today we read of an unchangeable theme or request for those who want to follow Jesus. It is repent and believe the good news. Repent means separate yourself from the ways of the world. The ways of the gospel are opposed to the ways of the world. We pray that we have one nation under god and yet our nation is directly opposed to God’s way. Then believe in the gospel. The gospel translates as the ‘good news’ because it tells us how to live with God.
Tuesday January 14th
We are now in the Ordinary time of the Church’s calendar. We have been introduced to the story of Samuel. Anna barren is the reproach of her neighbors because she had no children. Eli, her husband sees her distraught in prayer and presumes she is drunk. Anna answers her husband that she is not drunk but has been pouring her heart and troubles to the Lord. Anna conceives a son whom she named Samuel. It is often when we are honest with the Lord that our prayer is answered. Even though she was beyond childbearing she still conceived and bore a son because nothing is impossible for god even for your own problems and concerns.
Thursday January 16th
Have you ever wondered why bad things happen to good people? Well today’s first reading tells of the defeat in battle of the Israelites. They sent fir the Ark thinking that they were invincible because the Ark was with them. Hophni and Phinheas was with the ark and they were killed. The possible answer was that the Israelite’s trusted in the Ark and didn’t pray . Work as if everything belonged to you and pray and trust in god because everything does indeed belong to God.
Wednesday January 15th
There is a great precept for us to learn from today’s scriptures and it comes in the first reading. Samuel who is young and serving under the older priest Eli. Samuel hears a call and presumes that it is Eli. He runs to Eli three times only to be told that it is not Eli. A fourth time Eli tells him to respond and say “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” Samuel does that and the Lord answers Samuel. The obvious is that God never gives up on us. The key is that we need to be with the Lord and tuned into Him. God will continue to contact us no matter our excuses.
Friday January 17th
In Mark’s gospel today we learn that Jesus was mostly moved by faith. The place is crowded, and no one can get in. They bring a paralytic who not only can’t walk but now is shut out. his friends undo the roof and lower the paralytic down in front of Jesus and Jesus responds that He has not seen that type of faith in al of Israel. Faith is our life in Christ and not anything else. We may know a lot about Jesus but not have faith in Him. Faith is the true path to Jesus’ heart.
Saturday January 18th
Today’s scriptures are all about choice. The first reading has Saul being chosen as King over all of Israel Samuel anoints Saul king, seemingly a good choice. Then in the gospel Jesus calls a tax collector to be His apostle, seemingly a bad choice. Yet the opposite happens. Saul doe does not follow God’s ways while Matthew the tax man turns out to be a saint. It is one thing to be chosen but it is quite another to follow and obey We may be anointed but are we appointed an committed?
Monday January 20th
Samuel confronts Saul and accuses Saul of disobeying God’s command. Saul’s men however took the best from their enemy’s provisions and property. That was a distinct violation of God’s order and so Saul lost the kingship. The gospel oddly enough contradicts this when Jesus tells the Pharisees that His disciples do not fast because Jesus is with them. The conclusion is simple,” As long as Jesus is with us and we are with Jesus we are on the right track. Jesus is Lord in every way.
Sunday January 19th
This is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. The gospel is a repeat gospel and it tells about John the Baptist recognizing Jesus and witnessing to him. That is our challenge and according to mark’s gospel 16,8 we too are commanded to be His witnesses all over the world. Jesus cannot be omitted in our talk or walk. Never for any reason compromise the name, person of Jesus Christ.
Tuesday January 21st
How often have you heard it said that God’s ways are not our ways in the first reading there is a great example of that. It is the occasion of the choice of David as King. Samuel the prophet is sent to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king of Israel. Jesse had eight sons. After seven sons were paraded before Samuel the Lord told Samuel I have not chosen any of them. Then Samuel ask Jesse if that is all the sons. Jesse answers that there is one more who is tending the sheep, but he is the youngest, hardly a good choice. Samuel asks Jesse to bring hi (David) forward and God tells Samuel “anoint him”. David is the chosen one. So often we fight God’s decision in our lives. Think back and see where you have disagreed with the Lord, only eventually to find out that what God had for you was far better than what you wanted for yourself.
Wednesday January 22nd
In the first reading we have the conflict between Goliath and David. The odds are stacked against David. Goliath is something like nine feet tall. David cannot even walk when they put the armor on him. David tells Goliath that God is with David and that is why I will succeed. When we invite and ask GO to be with us despite all odds we will triumph. The key is to depend and trust in the Lord. How often did Jesus tell us in the scriptures that our faith will see us through.
Thursday January 23rd
Envy or jealousy is a very dangerous and addictive element in our lives, and we need to rid ourselves of it as quickly as possible. Witness for example the first reading today where the women sing of Saul killing his thousands and David his tens of thousands. Saul is infuriated and immediately an opportunity of killing David. It is so consuming that David has to flee the area to escape Saul’s fury. Envy is so dangerous that they even give it a color, green. Envy is what sealed Satan’s fate. Pray,”Lord deliver me from this envy and such thoughts.”
Friday January 24th
The story of Samuel continues today when the Lord tells David that He will deliver his enemy (Saul) into his hands. So it happens that David visits the camp of Saul at night and when he has Saul asleep refuses to kill him saying I will not touch the Lord’s anointed. It takes strength and an inner fortitude to reach such a decision. In our time it is better to forgive than to seek revenge. So often we may get what we want but is it of God?
Sunday January 26th
In Sports we have avid and rabid fans claiming that heir team is number one and often any opposition is met with anger. In the second reading today St. Paul tells the Corinthians that there should be no division among them. “Were you baptized into Paul or Jesus’ In the gospel we read of the call of the disciples. There is no hesitation. They follow Jesus immediately. Jesus calls us each day of our lives. When we answer then there is a deeper and deeper call. Jesus wants us. Do we want to be with Jesus?
Saturday January 25th
There are great and inspiring thoughts and stories in these January readings. Again, in the first reading we read of the conversion of St. Paul. He was known as Saul, a persecutor of believers and on his journey to Damascus was confronted by Jesus who said, Saul. Saul why are you persecuting Me.” He asked who it was, and Jesus told him “I am Jesus the Nazarene whom you are persecuting” Saul then became Paul and became the apostle of the Gentiles. How strange Saul a devout Jew enemy of Christianity now Paul a Christian and an advocate for the Gentiles. I strongly believe that we have many conversions but is there transformation or do we just retrogress.
Monday January 27th
What directs you to Jesus? Is it your faith or your knowledge? In the gospel today we read about the confrontation between Jesus and the Scribes. All the miracles that Jesus has performed give witness of the divinity in Him. The Scribes see it very differently and say that Satan is the real cause. Knowledge should lead us to Christ but sometimes the lack of that same knowledge leads us away for Him. Faith based on knowledge may become an obstacle while knowledge based on faith lay lead us to the true God.
Tuesday January 28th
In the gospel today it seems like Jesus rebukes His mother. They tell Him that she is out side asking for Him .He responds that ‘Blessed are they who hear the word of God, they are brother and sister and mother to Me” This is not so much a rebuke of His family as it is a charge against those who are trying to distract Him and His teaching. Do we even distract ourselves from Jesus?
Wednesday January 29th
We are reading this year from Mark’s gospel this year. Mark’s gospel is divided into two eight-chapter segments. Chapters one to eight stress Jesus as Son of God and the remaining chapters stress Jesus son of man. In today’s gospel we read about Jesus tells us the parable of the sower who sows seed in four different places and yet only one prospers and that is the seed sowed on good soil. We need to make sure that our faith is on solid ground and not destroyed by weeds, lack of soil, false teaching or sin.
Thursday January 30th
There is a great principle in the gospel, and it is this” The measure you measure with will be measured back to you” In other words the way you live your life of faith will dictate the response. There is another comparable gospel phrase which says, “not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven” Simply practice what you preach or live intently your life in Christ Jesus.
Friday January 31st
The kingdom of God is compared to the mustard seed or the pearl of great price in the gospel today. First, the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds. Yet when sewn and nurtured becomes the largest of plants. Your faith must grow. Secondly’ the pearl of great price once found gives off an intensity of a treasure to be kept safe. Is that the case with you?