“What is blindness? How is it healed?” Do you want to know? On your computer or smart phone just enter the questions into a search engine and you will receive answers. If some answers are not good enough search other engines, and keep asking till you find all the information you want.
Similarly, if you want to know about other topics, do the same: ask receive, search find.
In the Bible, Jesus says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds; everyone who knocks will have the door opened.” (Lk 11:9-10, NJB)
Here are some examples of those who asked Jesus and received.
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar on the road asked Him for mercy – the healing of his blindness. The people scolded him and told him to keep quiet. But he persisted by shouting even louder. Jesus stopped, called him over and, on hearing his request, said to him: “Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.” (Lk 18:42, NJB) At once his sight returned. He followed Jesus, glorifying God. And all the people gave praise to God.
In the region of Tyre and Sidon, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus asking for mercy and deliverance of her daughter from demonic possession. Jesus did not say a word. His disciples went and pleaded with him, but he said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” The woman came up to him a second time, knelt low before him and asked again for his help. He replied, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs.” She humbly replied, “Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table.” Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.” Instantly her daughter received the requested exorcism. (See Mt 15:22–28, NJB)
One day Jesus was teaching inside a jam-packed house. Some men brought a paralytic on a stretcher seeking to ask Jesus for a healing and receiving a miracle; but they could not even get close. They persevered by climbing up to the roof, removed some tiles, and lowered the sick man into the room. When Jesus saw their determination and their great faith, he said to the sick man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He stood up immediately, took up the mat he had been lying on, and went home healed, glorifying God. All the people were amazed; filled with awe, they gave glory to God. (See Lk 5:17–26, NIV)
At Cana in Galilee, a royal official whose son was severely ill in Capernaum heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea. He made the trip to meet Jesus, and humbly asked him to come and heal his son who was near death. Jesus complained, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” Unperturbed, the official continued to beg, “Sir, come down before my son dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said. On the day-long return journey to his house, his slaves came to meet him on the way with the exciting news: the son’s fever had subsided, and he had received his health back. Upon enquiring when this took place, the official discovered that it happened at the exact hour when Jesus said: “Go, your son will live.” He and his entire household came to believe. (See Jn 4:46–53, RSV)
Before Jesus died on the cross, a thief who had been crucified next to him, ignoring the impertinent criminal crucified on the other side of Jesus, asked of the Lord, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Right away he received the assurance: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (See Lk 23:42, 43, RSV)
What is the difference between (A) and (B)?
The internet answers questions by giving lots of information, independence and self-satisfaction. Jesus answers requests for favours by giving lots of love and mercy, miracles, healing, faith, forgiveness, life, eternal salvation, and joy.
We started out asking: “What is blindness? How is it healed?” Check the internet; but note that blindness does not always refer to the eye only, but to the heart and the soul as well. In your daily life, examine where you place the balance between (A) and (B). Whatever you need, whomever you ask, give proportionate time to the Lord.
Never forget that Jesus alone can make this promise: “In all truth I tell you, anything you ask from the Father he will grant in my name… Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.” (Jn 16:23, 24, NJB)
(1). “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail.” (Lk 12:32–33, NIV)
The above passage contains Jesus’ exhortation and encouragement to generosity and sacrifice, intending to spur us on to works of charity. When we do as he says, we will gain unfailing treasure in heaven which benefits, for all time, those who are poor.
In the same action, we obtain spiritual graces for ourselves as well. And, of course, it goes without saying, our families, relatives, friends and loved ones will also receive the graces that come our way.
Moreover, the wonderful passage provides the rationale behind which we appeal to saints for help – saints who may have lived a long, long time ago. They have accumulated stockpiles of treasures in Heaven that never wear out, and the Lord shares his glory with them by giving from their store of goodness.
(2). When we ask Jesus for things, we should keep in mind that his treasures are, likewise, inexhaustible. They can never be depleted. Whatever he gives us now does not diminish the amount of future gifts that he will give to us or to others. We can request a hundred things, and he will still have plenty more to give to us at a later date, and to the rest of the world. Even when he grants our smallest wishes it does not take away the possibility of more important prayers being answered.
Jesus invites us, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (Jn 16:24, RSV) Therefore, let’s ask him for every good thing. Ask away, and build up a trustful relationship with the Lord. He is a very loving and generous friend.
He says, “I have loved you just as the Father has loved me.” (Jn 15:9, NJB) “Your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Lk 12:32, NIV)
(3). The Lukan passage contains the final part of the response which Jesus gave to the rich young man who ran up to him, knelt down, and asked: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17, RSV) Remember what happened? Jesus told him: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mk 10:21, RSV) On hearing this, “his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful.” (Mk 10: 22, RSV) He kept his heart clinging tightly to where it used to be.
There are people who wish to follow Jesus perfectly, but their inner desire for admiration from their peers reveal an inordinate attachment to human approval and monetary wealth – not unlike some of their materialistically-minded acquaintances. What sadness this could lead to!
Jesus says to his disciples: “I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.” (Lk 12:22, NAB) These words are meant for the poor in spirit, but they can certainly be applied to those who worry – if they were to start giving away significant amounts of money and possessions – how they would appear to the world if they suddenly could not afford to live in luxurious lifestyles, or eat at trendy restaurants, or wear the latest fashionable clothes.
Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Mt 6:24–25, NIV)
(4). Jesus tells his followers: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Mt 6:19–21, NAB)
In the Gospel according to John, we see a boy who put his heart in the right place. He gave to Jesus his treasure of the day – the uneaten lunch that his mom packed for him as he left the house in the morning – and was shown the amazing effect immediately. Imagine the surprise in his wide-opened eyes, and the smile of astonishment across his little face when Jesus multiplied the contents of his lunch-bag big time! How exceedingly delighted he must have been that evening and throughout the rest of his existence on earth and in heaven. How happy he was for being of help to so many who needed his generosity. How joyful he is now as he prays for us to follow his example.
Here is the account. “‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.” (Jn 6:9–11, RSV)
In Jesus’ hands, a few fish burgers given to him by a courageous kid could be used to satisfy the hunger of thousands. How many souls will be affected for all eternity if we fearlessly offer up some of our possessions, talents, energy and time in doing works of charity, and presenting the merits to Jesus for him to multiply and distribute!
Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Mt 7:13–14, NJB)
I did not kill anybody, or set fire to someone’s house, or committed adultery. I go to church regularly, read the Bible and other spiritual books daily, and pray a lot. I fast on bread and water twice a week. I have travelled to hallowed places of worship on scores of pilgrimages. I am far better informed on religious matters than my acquaintances. I gain deep insights into Scripture and theological studies by attending conferences; I always understand everything the speakers say, and thoroughly enjoy the programmes from beginning to end. I know all the standard formulary prayers, hymns and rituals; I can compose lengthy pious supplications and meditative thoughts instantaneously. I have been instrumental in organizing numerous devotional events. I donate money to worthy causes, help people who are in need, do multiple voluntary works expertly and say many holy things. Surely I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world, am I not? Surely my friends will speak of me as a saint after I die!
But have I paid any attention to this teaching of James in the New Testament? “Nobody who fails to keep a tight rein on the tongue can claim to be religious; this is mere self-deception; that person’s religion is worthless.” (Jas 1:26, NJB)
According to just one short paragraph of Jesus’ teaching below, how often should I have been condemned in the past week alone?
He warns, “You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt 12:34–37, NAB)
A person speaking good may be a good person, or may be an evil person pretending to be good. However, a person speaking evil is not a good person pretending to be evil; a person speaking evil is evil!
Will I not be opening my mouth proudly again to say malicious things against someone whom I consider inferior to me? Will I not continue to think nothing of spreading rumours about the person I envy? Will I not be justifying myself tomorrow for being angry with those who do not agree with my brilliant observations? Do I deem pride, envy and anger – three of the seven deadly sins – deadly for others but not for me? Do I not know that angels became devils because of pride? Do I consider myself sinless as long as nobody seems to notice my sins?
James writes: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” (Jas 2:10–11, NIV)
No wonder Jesus cautions: “I have much to say in judgment of you.” (Jn 8:26, NIV)
This is how he speaks to those who have the appearance of good but are not truly so: “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Mt 23: 27–28, NIV)
“You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as upright in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed in human eyes is loathsome in the sight of God.” (Lk 16:15, NJB)
“You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” (Mt 23:15, NIV)
Is it time to canonize myself?
Before canonizing myself, I should think about and remember the following.
“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Mt 7:13, NIV)
“When the day comes many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?’ Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!” (Mt 7:22–23, NJB)
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.” (Jn 12:46–48, NIV)
“I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.” (Lk 6:47-49, NAB)
“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 Jn: 8–9, NIV)
“Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth.” (1 Tim 6:3–5, NAB)
“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (Jas 3:14–16, NIV)
Now, should I not examine myself more carefully, therefore, and in a totally honest and truthful way? Otherwise, should I not fear that, even though I may have been invited, I may have been chosen, and I may even be at the gate, in the end I may be locked out if self-satisfaction sets in?
Jesus already said: “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Lk 13:24, RSV)
“When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’” (Lk 13:25–27, RSV)
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” (Lk 14:34–35, NIV)
“Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.” (Mk 10:31, NJB)
“What have you got that was not given to you? And if it was given to you, why are you boasting as though it were your own?” (1 Cor 4:7, NJB)
Should I crown myself today? Only a fool would do that. God alone can make saints – at the moment he chooses, if he opens the door into Heaven for me after a period of sincere self-examination, repentance and conversion on my part.
Repent; obey Jesus, the Advocate
In the last book of the Bible, God warns me: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked… Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” (Rev 3:14–19, NIV)
John writes in his first epistle: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 Jn 2:1–6, NIV)
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn 1:5–9, NIV)
Jesus says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth.” (Jn 14:15–17, NAB)
In Colossians 3:7–9, St. Paul says that I must put away all these things: anger, hot temper, malice, slander, abusive language, and filthy talk. “Stop lying to each other!” he cautions.
In the First Letter to the Corinthians, he demands, “Follow the way of love.” (1 Cor, 14:1, NIV)
In chapter 13 of the same letter, he describes love as the highest theological virtue. Concerning this, I had better look inside my own heart seriously. And I had better not make these mistakes: to merely speak about the well-known passage without putting it into practice, giving advice, reciting the lines and using them to judge others instead of applying them to myself – none give any evidence of saintliness. But, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, if I meditate on the famous verses honestly, sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase, word by word, then change and carry out everything in them – towards everyone and at all times (even when nobody is watching) – then perhaps I will progress in the right direction.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor 13: 1– 7, NIV)
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (Jn 15:11–14, NIV)
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt 11:29, NIV)
How many days does it take a person to be justified who sincerely repents from the heart?
Jesus spoke this parable. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other…” (Lk 18:10–14, RSV)
On the day that the humble person acknowledged his sinfulness, he arrived home justified.
Soon afterwards, Jesus travelled through Jericho. “And there was a man named Zacchae’us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchae’us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchae’us stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it four-fold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house…’” (Lk 19:2–9, RSV)
‘Today,’ the same day that Zacchaeus responded to Jesus’ invitation, and made haste and came down from his lofty position, and welcomed Jesus joyfully, and reformed his ways, salvation came to him.
On Calvary, two criminals were crucified beside Jesus. “One of the criminals hanging there abused him: ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He answered him, ‘In truth I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” (Lk 23:39–43, NJB)
‘Today!’ Again – for those who honestly admit their guilt and look to Jesus for mercy.
How long does it take someone to decide seriously for repentance? Not long! Nobody should spend another day on earth going through life staying as evil as before.
Guidance from St. Peter
“God opposes the proud but accords his favour to the humble.” (1 Pet 5:5, NJB)
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” (1 Pet 2:1, NIV)
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble… For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.’” (1 Pet 3:8, 10, NIV)
Guidance from St. Paul
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (Phil 3:12–15, NIV)
“So, my dear friends, you have always been obedient; your obedience must not be limited to times when I am present. Now that I am absent it must be more in evidence, so work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12, NJB)
Jesus, you said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Lk 5:32, RSV) Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
This article contains Biblical quotations only. Obey God and he will raise you to the heights of honour.
No revenge; leave vengeance to the Lord
Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.” (Pr 24:29, NIV)
Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you. (Pr 20:22, NIV)
For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” (Heb 10:30, RSV)
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated… So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” (Heb 10:32–37, NIV)
Do good; love
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thes 5:15 NIV)
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. (Lev 19: 18, NIV)
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also… Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Lk 6:27–29, 36, NIV)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:14, 18–21, NIV)
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Heb 12:14–15, NIV)
When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. (1 Cor 4:12–13, NAB)
Blessed and exalted
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. (1 Pet 3:8–14, NIV)
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place…
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. (Phil 2: 5–15, NIV)
In your life and in your relationships it is very important to recognize fools and those who proclaim themselves to be wise but are not. If you know how to deal with them you will have greater peace and sympathy.
Take a few moments to think about whether there are people in your family, among your kinfolks, co-workers, acquaintances or friends who behave like fools. Here are some ways to identify them.
“Whoever spreads slander is a fool.” (Pr 10:18, NAB)
“Fools take no delight in understanding,
but only in displaying what they think.” (Pr 18:2, NAB)
“The lips of fools walk into a fight.” (Pr 18:6, NAB)
“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” (Pr 20:3, NIV)
“As dogs return to their vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.” (Pr 26:11, NAB)
How to distinguish the wise or prudent from fools
“The way of fools is right in their own eyes,
but those who listen to advice are the wise.” (Pr 12:15, NAB)
“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” (Pr 12:16, NIV)
“All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.” (Pr 13:16, NIV)
“A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.” (Pr 14:3, NIV)
“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” (Pr 14:8, NIV)
“The wise person is cautious and turns from evil;
the fool is reckless and gets embroiled.
The quick-tempered make fools of themselves.” (Pr 14:16-17, NAB)
“The crown of the wise is their wisdom, but folly is the garland of fools.” (Pr 14:24, RSV)
“The heart of the wise seeks knowledge, a fool’s mouth feeds on folly.” (Pr 15:14, NJB)
“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.” (Pr 28:26, NIV)
“Fools give vent to all their anger;
but the wise, biding their time, control it.” (Pr 29:11, NAB)
How not to handle a fool
“Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Pr 1:7, NIV)
“A single reprimand does more for a discerning person
than a hundred lashes for a fool.” (Pr 17:10, NAB)
“Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.” (Pr 17:12, NIV)
“Do not speak in the hearing of fools;
they will despise the wisdom of your words.” (Pr 23:9, NAB)
“Wisdom is too high for a fool.” (Pr 24:7, RSV)
“Snow no more befits the summer, nor rain the harvest-time, than honours befit a fool.” (Pr 26:1, NJB)
“A thorn branch in a drunkard’s hand, such is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” (Pr 26:9, NJB)
“Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.” (Pr 27:22, NIV)
“If a wise person disputes with a fool,
there is railing and ridicule but no resolution.” (Pr 29:9, NAB)
How to deal with fools
Heed Jesus’ warning: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Mt 5:21-22, NIV)
The book of Proverbs puts it this way: “Whoever mocks the poor reviles their Maker;
whoever rejoices in their misfortune will not go unpunished.” (Pr 17:5, NAB)
In the above quotation, “the poor” are not just those who have few monetary and material possessions, but also those who are less gifted in psychological maturity, or pleasant personalities, or wisdom.
In the following Gospel reading, the “little ones” can also be applied to the same group of individuals. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 18:10, RSV)
Here is what you can do. First, love them. Jesus commands: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12, NJB)
Second, pray for them. You cannot change the hearts of fools by arguments and exhortations, or by shaming and rebuking. It is only by the grace of God that fools can be transformed to abandon their sin of pride and the desire for self-aggrandizement.
Third, rather than fuming with anger while a fool around you rages on and on with endless complaints and jealous boasting, do as these proverbs tell you:
“Do not answer fools according to their folly,
lest you too become like them.” (Pr 26:4, NAB)
“Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.” (Pr 14:7, RSV)
One good way to prepare for a Marian event is to spend a few minutes each of nine days some time prior to the occasion by meditating on the gospel readings provided below. These are all the passages in the four gospels that mention Mary (or Jesus’ mother).
They will help you get to know her better and learn much from her. Notice how quiet she is, how humble, and simple: no fanfare or boasting after God’s momentous Annunciation through his archangel Gabriel, or when shepherds reported the glorious apparition of angels at Jesus’ birth, or after the presentation in the temple in the presence of prophets, or when visited by wise visionaries from the east. Mary’s Song, filled with profound spiritual wisdom, was spoken in the hearing of just one person, Elizabeth. At the wedding feast in Cana she acted behind the scenes to alert Jesus concerning the shortage of wine – allowing Jesus to be glorified, not herself. Superficiality finds no place in this exemplary saint par excellence.
Everyone should learn from Mother Mary. Those who crave to be noticed and admired at every social function and religious gathering, should learn from her. Those who pride themselves for their exceptional talents and accomplishments, their superior knowledge and personality, should learn from her. Those who are puffed-up by the gift of the gab, who broadcast their pious utterances and cute remarks for the sake of fame and recognition, should learn from her.
In honour of Mary’s position as the Mother God, you may also use this novena to ask her intercession for prayer requests. She is full of grace, but does not keep them for herself. She will give them to you and, as a loving mother, will ask for more graces from God on your behalf.
At the end of each meditation, please answer the question(s) in a thoughtful way.
“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, … Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, … Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.” (Mt 1:1–16, NIV)
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High;
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her,
‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
the Son of God.
And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’” (Lk 1:26–37, RSV)
“Mary said, ‘You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.’ And the angel left her.” (Lk 1:38, NJB)
When God called you to do something, what was your habitual response?
At what stage was your reply: “You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said”?
How much do you believe this: “For with God nothing will be impossible”?
“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’
And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.’ Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” (Lk 1:39-56, NIV)
What would it take for you to acknowledge a sacred gift from God and accept it with heartfelt gratitude, saying: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant”?
How does one “fear” God? [Please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_God, and Mt 10:28, Heb 10:26 – 31, and 2 Thes 1:5–10.]
The following sentences show what happens to the proud, the powerful and the rich: “he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones … but has sent the rich away empty.” Which sentences in Mary’s Song describe God’s mercy towards the humble, and the hungry, and those who fear the Lord?
In what ways are you rich: money, talents, knowledge, position of influence, friends, popularity, …?
How would you live in genuine humility so that the Mighty One will show you his mercy and do great things for you, and through you?
Joseph takes Mary as his wife
“Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child
and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”’ When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (Mt 1:18–24, NAB)
The birth of Jesus
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Lk 2:1–7, NAB)
“Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
‘Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to those on
whom his favor rests.’
When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.” (Lk 2:8–20, NAB)
How do the following proclamations impact your outlook on this sinful world? One: Joseph is told that Mary’s son, Jesus, “will save his people from their sins.” Two: the angel said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”
The presentation in the temple
“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,’ and to offer the sacrifice of ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,’ in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
‘Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.’
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’ There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Lk 2:22–38, NAB)
What insights have you learned from Simeon’s prayer: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation”?
If you ask God in faith for a miracle, what does it take for you to start conducting yourself as though the miracle will surely happen?
The wise men
“After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
And you, Bethlehem,
in the land of Judah,
you are by no means the least
among the leaders of Judah,
for from you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’
Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared and sent them on to Bethlehem with the words, ‘Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were given a warning in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.” (Mt 2:1–12, NJB)
The escape to Egypt
“After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’
So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:
I called my son out of Egypt.
Herod was furious on realising that he had been fooled by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or less, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. Then were fulfilled the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamenting and weeping bitterly:
it is Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted
because they are no more.” (Mt 2:13–18, NJB)
On coming close to baby Jesus, the wise men were filled with joy and, “falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
What treasures will you bring to Jesus?
Here is a beautiful gift we can give to him after introspection and conversion. The wise men, cautioned not to go home retracing their former steps, took a far better route. Let’s ask ourselves: “What’s wrong with the way I have been going on? Why have I constantly thirsted for vain-glory and praise? Was that not pride? Was that not self-destructive in the long run? Didn’t I already know the warning: ‘For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’ (Mt 23:12, NIV)? What can I do to embark on a new path – the path of humility?”
The return to Nazareth
“After Herod’s death, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:
He will be called a Nazarene.” (Mt 2:19–23, NJB)
Finding Jesus in the Temple
“Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’ And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” (Lk 2:41–52, NAB)
Jesus was the Son of God; why did he need to advance in wisdom? Wasn’t he wise already? Why did he have to obey Mary and Joseph? [Please check Phil 2:5–7. This is a very important passage in the Bible.]
If Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus, would they not also search for your children if they are lost? How will you express your belief in God’s love and care for you and your family?
As Jesus lived in obedience to Mother Mary, he advanced in wisdom and age and favour before God and man. How will you advance similarly through following her example of humility and trust in God?
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’
‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’
His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”’
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples.” (Jn 2:1–12, NIV)
Why did Mary initiate the action that started Jesus’ first public miracle? If Mary said nothing, wouldn’t Jesus have noticed the problem and performed the miracle anyway?
If Mary asks you to do whatever Jesus tells you, would you do it? Would you carry out everything Jesus tells you in the Gospel? When would you begin? How would you begin?
The rejection of Jesus
“Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mk 6:1–6, NIV)
Jesus’ spiritual family
“Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’” (Lk 8:19–21, NIV)
“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” (Lk 11:27–28, NIV)
This is your mother
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn 19:25–27, NJB)
If Jesus tells you that Mary is your mother, would you take her into your own home immediately? For her to be your mother, you would have to “hear the word of God and obey it.”
How often would you read the word of God in the Gospel and put Jesus’ commands into practice?
Will you commit to doing that every day from now on?
Please do the devotion: The Joys of Mary.
Please go to The Joys of Mary on our website.
Jesus said, “This is my Body… This is my Blood” (Mk 14:22, 24).
Similar sayings are in Luke and Matthew, but not in John – where the Last Supper scene describes the washing of the Apostles’ feet. The discourse on Holy Communion in John, however, is found in Chapter Six, starting at verse 35 and intensifying from verse 48 onwards.
“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51).
“In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53).
“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (Jn 6:55).
The above are Jesus’ teachings in the synagogue at Capernaum. Below are the reactions from some of his listeners. “After hearing it, many of his followers said, ‘This is intolerable language! How could anyone accept it?’… After this many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more” (Jn 6:60, 66).
Many Christians interpret Jesus’ sayings literally. The disciples in the above Gospel passage certainly did. It was the reason they left him.
While they were walking off, a most astounding thing happened. Jesus did not shout out after them in panic: “Wait. Stop. Please don’t go. I am sorry. I used the wrong words. I was only speaking in symbols. I don’t mean what you think I was saying. You don’t eat me – you eat bread and drink wine.” No! He let them go. He was speaking literally!!! He meant what he said. This was the sacrament of his limitless love, the food that would lead to life everlasting, and one tangible way he chose to keep his promise: “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28:20).
He asserted, “Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day” (Jn 6:54).
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person” (Jn 6:56).
“As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me” (Jn 6:57).
Jesus sometimes identifies himself (or someone else, e.g., John the Baptist or St. Paul, identifies him) as an entity like the lamb of God, or the good shepherd, or light, love, peace, the resurrection, etc. An example is seen in the gospel according to John where Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). This is different from saying, “I show the way, I proclaim the truth, I give life.” Jesus is telling us that to find the way we have to walk along him; to know the truth we need to know him; to have life we must live in him.
So, when he says, “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35), what do you think he wants you to do?
At Cana in Galilee, the first time a description of Jesus at a banquet was recorded, he changed water into wine. At the upper room in Bethany, the last time a description of Jesus at a banquet on earth was chronicled, Jesus changed wine into his own blood. At Calvary, on the cross, as he died, he was pierced on the side, and his blood poured forth into the world for the redemption of those who wanted it.
At the Last Supper, he had also taken a cup and, after giving thanks, handed it to the disciples saying: “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father.” (Mt 26:27-29)
If you want to be present at the final banquet, the one in Heaven, do as Jesus commanded.
(The above Biblical quotations are taken from the New Jerusalem Bible.)
Do not wait until Lent to pray the Way of the Cross. Come close to Jesus daily by spending a few short moments with him in a manner like the sample below. Ask him to teach you what to think about him, what to learn from him, how you can be like him, in what way you are already following in his footsteps, how you have used his good example to deal with conflicts in your family, in the work-place, with acquaintances, and with those who treat you as an enemy. Share with him your joys, your sorrows, your concerns of the day. Thank him.
It is true that this Way of the Cross version does not carry with it any plenary indulgence from the Church. If you want, you can pray a version to which an indulgence is attached. How often you do that each year is for you to count.
Every Catholic church has the fourteen Stations of the Cross displayed prominently on the walls. Why is this?
Jesus, at the time when you were condemned and sentenced to death, no Gospel had been compiled and no theological treatises had been written to expound on what you were doing. You faced your sacrifice silently, offering no explanation to anyone. Never once did you look for sympathy. You knew what you had to do, and did it for the eternal benefit of all.
Jesus, you were insulted, beaten, and made to shoulder the cross. The spectators regarded you as a disgraced failure. No matter what people thought, you persisted on your sacred mission without telling your foes you were doing the greatest good for them. You bore no bitterness; you did not fight back. You remained constantly meek and humble of heart. You cared not for praise or human recognition.
Jesus, after an all-night ordeal of brutality and torment, you collapsed. You could have used this fall as an excuse to call off the rest of the humiliating undertaking; but you got up and pressed onward.
Jesus, your Mother may have prayed: “Father, our Son’s Passion is excruciatingly agonizing. Please have mercy on him and reduce the time of his suffering by giving the same suffering to me too.”
Jesus, you accepted help from a stranger. Even though he was only forced into giving you a hand, in return you inspired the evangelists to include in the Bible his name and those of his sons and his village. Lord, how much more will you reward those who do things for you voluntarily!
Going against the current, and without the slightest concern for her own safety and reputation, Veronica braved the wrath of the soldiers and the crowds. Jesus, forever after, whoever follows her example of devotedness to you with selfless bravery, will become more and more your true icon in heart and soul and mind.
Jesus, you were whipped and pushed, and fell a second time. You got back on our feet, not because you were coerced, but because of your immense love for me and your desire to save me.
Jesus, you always respected women, never taking advantage of them or preying on their sympathy and affection. Even in your own hour of need, you made sure to remind them to take care.
In the four gospels, I have seen how kindly you treated mothers, widows, little girls and women of all ages – sinners and the virtuous alike. You were always so thoughtful and considerate towards each one of them.
Jesus, you summoned up your last ounce of energy to complete your mission for my sake. Thank you.
Jesus, you submitted yourself to humiliation on my behalf; that is why, time and time again, even when I could have been put me to shame, I wasn’t.
For your love does not apply solely to my life after death. Your love is concerned with every situation in my life now. Never should I live in darkness, with a shadow hanging over my head. When I surrender each difficulty into your hands, the light of your grace shines on all seemingly unsolvable problems. Thank you, Jesus.
And Lord, help me never to embarrass anyone.
Jesus, you endured unbearable pains so that I do not have to suffer overly much. Lord, every time I ask, you deliver me from all tribulations – mental, physical and spiritual. You never fail me. Thank you, Lord.
And Jesus, help me never to harm anybody.
Jesus, you loved me so much that even if I were the only person in the history of the world who needed redemption, you would have died for me. “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20, NIV)
Thank you, Lord, from the bottom of my heart.
Jesus, why did you create me? For Heaven, of course! Nothing less! Without consulting me, you fashioned me; was it for suffering or for disaster? Certainly not! You are God, what you do must be for good. It cannot be otherwise.
Thank you for creating me and redeeming me from my sins, keeping the door open for me to live in eternal happiness. Thank you for directing me back onto the right path every step of the way.
Jesus, with the help of your grace, I resolve not to sin against you anymore. I resolve to live in simplicity and absolute trust in your unparalleled kindness towards me.
Yes, it is good to pray with family and friends and parishioners, or in prayer groups, or at charismatic meetings and conferences… It can be very fruitful, and often a lot of fun, especially when accompanied by instrumental music and the raising of hands.
Still, sometimes, do as Jesus did: pray alone in secret!
Near the beginning of his ministry in Capernaum, after teaching in a synagogue, Jesus drove out an unclean spirit from a man, and, on the same day cured Simon’s mother-in-law of a severe fever. That evening, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town gathered at the door, and he drove out many demons and healed many who had various diseases. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mk 1:35, NIV)
“In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.” (Lk 6: 12-13, NAB) Only after this, when day came, did he call his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles.
As soon as Jesus finished feeding the five thousand by multiplying two fish and five loaves, he made his disciples get into the boat, and dismissed the crowds. “After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.” (Mt 14:23, NAB)
After healing a leper, Jesus ordered him not to tell anyone. “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Lk 5:15-16, NIV)
Jesus teaches: “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Mt 6:5-8, NAB)
Traditionally, the Church contemplates Mother Mary’s sorrows. Here is an additional devotion based on her joys. You are invited to spend a minute or two, now and then, pondering one of her ecstatic moments, feeling the peace, the relief, the triumph, the surprise, the wonderment and the gratitude that she experienced.
1/. She is greeted by the Angel Gabriel: “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you…. Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”
2/. She is affirmed by Elizabeth who, filled with the Holy Spirit, calls her “the mother of my Lord.”
3/. She can no longer contain her exhilaration and bursts out in song, humbly admitting to Elizabeth: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked upon the lowliness of his handmaid. Behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
4/. The Lord’s angel tells Joseph in a dream to take Mary as his wife: what is conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. Their Son would save his people from their sins.
5/. Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem, city of ancestor David. They find a place to stay. Jesus is born. Mary is bathed in rapturous jubilation as she gazes upon her beautiful Son, pressing him ever so tenderly to her maternal heart.
6/. The angel of the Lord appears gloriously to shepherds to announce that the new-born baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger in Bethlehem is the Saviour, Messiah and Lord. They come to tell Mary and Joseph. Mary treasures all these things and ponders them in her heart.
7/. At the presentation in the temple, Simeon, guided by the Holy Spirit, sees baby Jesus. Satisfied that he is the Christ, he prophesies about him. Also, the holy prophetess Anna thanks God and speaks of Jesus to many.
8/. Led by a star, wise men come with gifts from the East to adore Jesus – referring to him as the infant king of the Jews.
9/. The angel of the Lord alerts Joseph in a dream to get up, take the child and his mother, and depart for Egypt by night. They are to stay there until further notice. They escape slaughter by Herod. The three wise men likewise returned home unharmed.
10/. When Herod dies, the angel of the Lord tells Joseph in a dream to go with child and mother to Israel. Informed by the angel in another dream, Joseph withdraws to Galilee, settling in Nazareth. Again and again, Joseph proves to be guided by the Lord. Mary is very happy to have a totally trustworthy and holy husband.
11/. At age twelve, unknown to his parents, Jesus stays behind in Jerusalem after the customary days of celebrating the Passover feast, while Mary and Joseph travel homeward to Nazareth. After three days of anxious searching, they find him safe and sound in the temple conversing with the teachers. Mary is glad to hear Jesus say: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” She keeps this in her heart.
12/. Jesus lives obediently under his parents in Nazareth, and grows up a very good boy, increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
13/. Around the age of thirty, Jesus is baptized by John at the River Jordan. Immediately afterwards, the heavens open, and the Spirit of God descends on him like a dove. A voice from heaven is heard, certifying, “This is my beloved Son, with him I am well pleased.”
14/. Before beginning his ministry Jesus is publicly identified by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
15/. At the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, prompted by his mother, Jesus works his first miracle, changing water into wine. It manifests his glory; and the disciples believe in him.
16/. In the power of the Spirit, Jesus goes about the Holy Land doing good, preaching, healing, performing miracles, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. His followers multiply in number.
17/. On Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly. The people honour him, crying aloud: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”
18/. At the Last Supper, Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist. Henceforth, he is physically present on earth with his Church.
19/. Jesus’ love is boundless. He does not hesitate to give his life as a ransom for his people; he allows himself to be humiliated, mistreated and crucified. From the cross, he tells his Father: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” There is no bitterness.
20/. Jesus assures the repentant thief, “This day you will be with me in Paradise!” Mary is overjoyed to see her Son rescuing his people, for that was why he came into the world.
21/. Jesus does not forget his mother; to her and to the beloved disciple he says: “Woman, this is your son! … This is your mother!” And from that hour the disciple takes her into his own home.
22/. The Son of God is the only person who can redeem the world. Jesus does not appeal to his Father for legions of angels to call off his suffering and death. He exclaims: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
23/. With his last breath, Jesus declares: “It is fulfilled.” Seeing how Jesus died, the Roman centurion asserts: “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”
24/. Jesus is placed in the tomb. He suffers no more. He descends to the dead to free the holy souls.
25/. On the third day Jesus rises after his holy death. He is vindicated in glory. The bodies of many righteous people who died are raised, and coming out of the tombs they appear in Jerusalem.
26/. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, and to his friends and disciples. He spends forty wonderful days with them in Galilee.
27/. Jesus is taken up to Heaven and sits at the right hand of God.
28/. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes in power upon Mary and the disciples. Thousands are converted.
29/. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples go about the country and beyond, doing good, preaching, healing, performing miracles, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God and the sacred and imperishable good news of eternal salvation.
30/. When the course of her earthly life is completed, Mary is taken up body and soul into Heaven.
31/. Mary is exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things.
32/. In Heaven, the Mother of God continues to care for her children. Throughout the centuries, countless miracles are attributed to her manifold intercession. At various times, God sends her to appear on earth to guide the Church.
33/. At this very moment, as you bring her into your heart and speak with her, she is joyful beyond words.
What are some good and bad episodes which happened in your own life?
How would you turn your moans and groans into shouts of joy and triumph?
Go ahead and find the silver lining which exists in each adverse occasion.
Dearest Mother Mary, you have guided and looked after Jesus from the instant of his conception to the hour of his death. Under your care, he advanced in wisdom, in stature and in favour with God and man. I humbly ask you to similarly guide and look after me, my family and loved ones, and all your people.
In complete faith and trust, I solemnly consecrate myself and all of us to your Holy and Immaculate Heart, O beautiful Mother, forever and ever. Amen.
In this work, the initials RSV indicate that the Scripture quotations are from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION BIBLE, Second Catholic Edition, copyright © 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Any passage designated NJB is an excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1998 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission.
Texts followed by the letters NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In this work, Scripture excerpts marked NAB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN BIBLE REVISED EDITION copyright © 2011, 1986, 1970, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used with permission. All rights reserved.