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Weeks 621-630
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 630: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean”:  A Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 8: 1-4)


1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.


2 And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”


3 He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately.


4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”



“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” (Mat. 8:2). I know many people who have tragic histories. Some had their innocence stolen from them at an early age. Others were brutalized by their parents. Some fell victim to drug or alcohol abuse. Some have been prostitutes. The burden of guilt and shame they bear renders them dirty and untouchable. The ancient cry of “unclean, unclean” has been replaced by obnoxious, antisocial behavior that results in various degrees of alienation from society. In his/her mind, every breath exhaled wreaks and everything they touch is contaminated. They can readily identify with Juliet’s expression of despair. "Come weep with me, past hope, past cure, past help!"


In his estimation, he is unfit to associate with his fellows and damned in the sight of God. However, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are his ways our ways (CF. Is. 55:8). When he looks upon us in all our distress, “he is moved to compassion” (Mat. 9:36). The Lord sets his gaze upon us and draws us to himself with bonds of love. Looking beyond our guilt and shame, God sees beloved children who were meant to live life to the full. Concerning the sin-sick heart, the Lord says, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, those who are sick do” (Mat. 9:12). Paraphrasing a passage from St. Luke’s gospel, “I have come to seek and save the sick” (CF. Lk. 19:10).


We are being encouraged to make the leper’s plea our own. “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” (Mat. 8:2). Allow me to provide Jesus’s reply by rewriting a passage from St. John’s gospel. “If you really want to know, I was born and came into the world to make you clean” (CF. Jn. 18:37). It is when we are feeling the most isolated and dirty that we need to ponder the passage from Isaiah that Jesus used when he inaugurated his ministry. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to announce the good news to the oppressed poor. He sent me to apply a healing balm upon the brokenhearted, to declare liberty to captives, and pardon to those in bondage” (Is. 61:1).


Because of God’s boundless love for the human race, “The almighty Word leapt down from Heaven from his royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction” (CF Wis. 18:15). Having surveyed the human condition (CF. Ps. 14:2), the Word became Flesh and took the alienation and isolation of all mankind upon himself. Jesus loves us with a love that far surpasses all we could ever hope for or imagine. May we never hesitate to come to Jesus for healing. There is no guilt so great that it cannot be forgiven by Christ’s saving death and resurrection. There is no shame so deep that it cannot be wiped out by Christ’s compassionate love. May the words of Jesus recounted in today’s gospel passage be imprinted upon our hearts. “I will do it. Be made clean.”


I will leave you with a few inspirational words from Pope Francis. “Jesus’s gaze always uplifts us, it raises us. His is a gaze that makes you develop and keep on going, that encourages you because it makes you feel that he loves you. And by making you feel his love, he gives you the courage you need to follow him. When we let the crucified Jesus gaze upon us, we are recreated, we become a new creation.”


Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I thank you for loving me. I thank you for sending your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the world to save and to set me free. I trust in your power and grace that sustain and restore me. Loving Father, touch me now with your healing hands, for I believe that your will is for me to be well in mind, body, soul and spirit. Cover me with the most precious blood of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. Amen.” – attributed to Padre Pio

Quote from a Saint: "We must understand then, that even though God doesn't always give us what we want, he always gives us what we need for our salvation" - Saint Augustine

Questions for reflection:

  1. Have you ever found yourself crying out to the Lord “If you wish, you could make me clean”? How did the situation resolve? If you have never found yourself in this situation is there something in your life that you need the Lord to cleanse you of? If so, why not cry out to Him now?

  2. Have you ever thought of another person as being unclean or as someone who you would not associate with because of the circumstances of their life? Have you played a role in alienating them? Have you prayed for them and asked the Lord to help you see them with His eyes? Have you attempted to see them as Jesus in a distressing disguise as Saint Mother Theresa said?

  3. Is there a sin or negative attitude that you have held close to you and not shared with the Lord? Allow Him to come into that dark place in your life and shine His healing light on it.

  4. Jesus became man and therefore understands what it is to be human. There is nothing that we cannot bring to Him and that He cannot forgive. Have you gone to confession lately? If you are in need of confession, make an appointment with a priest or look up the times for confession at a parish near you.

  5. Have you been to adoration lately? If not, schedule a time and go and allow the Lord to gaze on you while you gaze upon Him. Even if it is only for a few minutes or just in a church with Hosts reserved in the tabernacle spend some time with our Eucharistic Lord and talk to Him silently in the recess of you heart.

  6. Have you ever felt like the Lord had cleansed you? How did this come about? Was it something that you asked Him for or was it something that happened spontaneously?

  7. How often to you spend time with your Bible? Reading and reflecting on scripture is another way to see the Lord and let Him work in you. If it has been a while read a chapter from the Gospels tonight before bed or better yet remember what Fr. Larry Richards says: “No Bible no Breakfast, no Bible no bed.”

  8. Have you ever prayed for someone you do not know? Try praying the following: “Jesus I pray for anyone who is feeling unclean or outcast from society.”

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 629: Love your Enemy: A Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 5:43-48)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’


44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.


46 For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?


47 And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?


48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.



This morning Jesus is saying to us, “Love your enemies”. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.


That is what God does. He is Love, and uncreated Love acts in a person with wisdom and gentleness. It has great power to destroy anger, envy, sadness, and all self-centeredness, and it brings into a soul the virtues of patience, gentleness, peace, and love of your annoying neighbor.


A person who is guided only by reason finds it hard to be patient, calm, and charitable to others when they give him grief and do him wrong. But someone who truly loves God can learn to put up with all this because uncreated Love fights for him and destroys these emotions of anger and sadness better than any self-help program could do. God himself gives his best - the sun to warm and the rain to nourish - to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. It’s no big deal to love the lovable: any run-of-the-mill sinner can do that.


Jesus expects more of us. He wants us to take after our heavenly Father, to live out our God-created identity. When a true lover of God suffers at the hands of others, he can be strengthened through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Whatever wrong or injury people do to him, he always keeps his humility. He does not despise his persecutors or speak ill of them, but he prays for them with pity and compassion, more earnestly than for those who never harmed him.


In short, live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. His level of love and humility are beyond human nature. But the Holy Spirit can make us sharers in the divine nature so that we live like true lovers of God and children of our heavenly Father.


As monks, we learn to become men of prayer, helping other people out quietly and unobtrusively, not expecting to see any results. The monastery is a quiet, secluded place where we won’t be tempted to role-play before God. We can just be here as simply and honestly as we can manage. The monastic life will shift the focus from us to God, and we will begin to sense his grace.


After ascending all the steps of humility, St Benedict promises that “the monk will quickly arrive at the perfect love of God which casts out fear.” And he concludes: “All this the Lord will by the Holy Spirit graciously manifest in his workman now cleansed of vices and sins.”


Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO


Prayer: “Almighty God, have mercy on (name) and on all that bear me evil will and would me harm, and on their faults and mine together, by such easy, tender, merciful means, as thine infinite wisdom best can devise; vouchsafe to amend and redress and make us saved souls in heaven together, where we may ever live and love together with thee and thy blessed saints, O glorious Trinity, for the bitter passion of our sweet Savior Christ. Amen.”--Prayer for One's Enemies by Saint Thomas More (1477-1535)


Quote from a Saint: “The field of battle between God and Satan is the human soul. It is in the soul that the battle rages every moment of life. The soul must give free access to the Lord so that it be fortified by him in every respect and with all kinds of weapons; that his light may enlighten it to combat the darkness of error; that it be clothed with Jesus Christ, with his justice, truth, the shield of faith, the word of God, in order to conquer such powerful enemies. To be clothed with Jesus Christ it is necessary to die to oneself." –St. Padre Pio

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you pray for your enemies? Have you tried to pray for them?

  2. Do your enemies bring out the best in you? What do you think about the idea that they should bring out the best and not the worst in you?

  3. If you do not have enemies is there a group of people, political, religious or in the media who get your blood pressure up or that instantly irritate you? Have you tried praying for them and or thought of having a Mass said for them?

  4. How do you respond when you feel persecuted?Have you tried to pray for your persecutors?

  5. Jesus seems to always call us up to a higher level of behavior that we may not think that we are capable of. Are you willing to answer His call?

  6. Do you find yourself engaging in gossip about those whom you do not like and maybe detracting from their character? Take this to prayer and the confessional if needed.

  7. Do you think of yourself as a person of prayer? Why or why not? If not, how could you become more of a person of prayer?

  8. Do you try to help people quietly and with humility? If not, what more could you do to help the people around you?

  9. We may not find ourselves living in a monastery but how could you change your home environment or your internal environment so that you “won’t be tempted to role-play before God”?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 628: The Body and Blood of Christ: A Reflection on the Gospel of John (John 6:51-58)


51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”


52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”


53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.


54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.


55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.


56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.


57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.


58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”



We gather around the Table of the Lord today, like the early Church to celebrate the breaking of the bread with glad and generous hearts (CF. Acts 2:46). The Psalmist posed an important question. “What return can I make to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” We have gathered here today to make his reply our own. “I will drink the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (Ps. 116:12-13). As we call on the name of the Lord who has called us by name, we come to realize that we have been united in the love that the Father has for the Son in the Holy Spirit. Indeed, our blessing cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ (CF. 1 Cor. 10:16). All who partake of the One Bread and the One Cup become one body by the Holy Spirit.


Jesus promised that he would not leave us orphans, but would be with us always, even to the end of the age. We believe that He is in our midst, under the appearance of bread and wine. We have to remember his words. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” There is a connection between the Incarnation, the Eucharist, and Sacred Scripture. By the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, the Word became flesh in the womb of the Ever-virgin Mary. By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Word became the Sacrament of the Altar. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Word became Scripture. At the Eucharist Liturgy, we are fed with the Bread of the Word and nourished with the Sacrament of the Altar. The Eucharist is real food and real drink and in eating and drinking it we are strengthened to proclaim the Good News of salvation to all we meet.


From its very beginning, the Church has lived, taught, and celebrated the words of Christ. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6:54-56). It is not just “ordinary bread and wine” that we receive in the Eucharist. It is the flesh and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, who came to nourish us and conform us to Himself. “The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients. He delivers over His Flesh and pours out His Blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children” (St. Clement of Alexandria).


When we receive the sacred host, we are given a morsel of bread that Christ himself has blessed and broken for us. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we come to recognize the presence of the Lord in the breaking of the bread. When we declare our “Amen” we are proclaiming our belief that the bread we are receiving is truly the Body and Blood of Christ, who died for our sins and was raised for our justification. Every time we receive the Body and Blood of the Lord we enter into a life-changing encounter with Christ, the Living Lord. “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action of sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship the human race renders to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit”(CCC 1325).


Jesus Christ accompanies us in many ways, but none more profound than when we encounter him in the Eucharist. In the sacrament of the altar, the Lord meets us, men and women who were created in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:27). True to His word, he is “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6) that leads us to the Father. The Eucharist brings about our transformation in Christ, which touches on every aspect of our lives. The Eucharist is celebrated on the altar of the world and unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation, east and west, north, and south. Through the Eucharist, we are drawn into a deeper communion with the life of the Triune God.


“We have come to know how much God loves us and have put our trust in his love. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”  (1 John 4:16). This conviction about God’s love compels us to a greater love of neighbor, because “whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21). We love one another because God, in Christ, first loved us. “The Eucharist educates us to this love in a deeper way; it shows us what value each person, our brother or sister, has in God’s eyes, if Christ offers Himself equally to each one, under the species of bread and wine. If our Eucharistic worship is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each person” (J.P. II).


St. Paul VI wrote, “This presence is called ‘real’ not to exclude the idea that the other presences are ‘real’ also, but rather to indicate THE presence par excellence because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man” (Mysterium Fidei, #39). The Church draws her life from Christ’s abiding presence. Believers approach the fountain of life because, through the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice is made present from the rising of the sun to its setting. In the sacramental re-presentation of his sacrifice, Christ holds back nothing. He freely gives himself, whole and entire, to every person who approaches him in faith. As he became bread blessed and broken for us, we who have been conformed to him must likewise become bread blessed and broken for others. The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. That which we have received free of charge we must freely share with others.


“Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: ‘This is my body’ is the same who said: ‘You saw me hungry, and you gave me no food’, and ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me’… What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Go first and satisfy his hunger and then come back and adorn the altar with what is left” (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew). May we always give due honor to the sacramental presence of the Lamb who was slain for us. And may he bring us all together to everlasting life.


Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Prayer: “O Jesus, since You have left us a remembrance of Your Passion beneath the veils of this Sacrament, grant us, we pray, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of Your Body and Blood that we may always enjoy the fruits of Your Redemption, for You live and reign forever. Amen”.


Quote from a Saint: “When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now." --St Teresa of Calcutta

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you believe in the true presence? Why or why not? If you do not believe, have you researched and prayed about it?

  2. Have you ever considered just how shocking Jesus’ words in John 6 were to His audience? Many of His followers left after they heard these words. Spend time in prayer meditating on this.

  3. Are you reverent and collected when you receive communion or has it become a routine experience? If it has become routine, pray about it and meditate on the reading from this reflection.

  4. Do you spend time in adoration? Why or why not? If you do, has it affected your prayer life? If you do not, are you willing to try? You do not have to start with a holy hour. Start off with 5 or 10 minutes for multiple visits. Schedule a time to go to Adoration this week and go!

  5. After receiving communion do you spend some time in quiet prayer? If not, do this the next time you receive the Eucharist.

  6. Do you try to see the presence of Jesus in others that you meet?

  7. Have your ever considered that in receiving communion we are physically uniting ourselves to the body of Christ? Have you considered that, in a mystical sense, you are connected to all of the people in your church and around the world?

  8. The phrase “you are what you eat” is still commonly used in a secular sense, but it can be applied to communion too. The next time you receive communion implore the Lord to make you more and more like Him.

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 627: Works of Mercy : A Reflection on the Book of Tobit and the Gospel of Mark (Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1bcde, 9-13 & Mark 12: 28-34)



10 When they had entered Media and were getting close to Ecbatana, 11 Raphael said to the young man, “Brother Tobiah!” He answered, “Here I am!” Raphael continued, “Tonight we must stay in the house of Raguel, who is a relative of yours. He has a beautiful daughter named Sarah.


1 So he brought him to the house of Raguel, whom they found seated by his courtyard gate. They greeted him first. He said to them, "Greetings to you too, brothers! Good health to you, and welcome!" And he brought them into his home. 9 Afterward, Raguel slaughtered a ram from the flock and gave them a warm reception. When they had washed, bathed, and reclined to eat and drink, Tobiah said to Raphael, “Brother Azariah, ask Raguel to give me my kinswoman Sarah.”


10 Raguel overheard the words; so he said to the young man: “Eat and drink and be merry tonight, for no man has a greater right to marry my daughter Sarah than you, brother. Besides, not even I have the right to give her to anyone but you, because you are my closest relative. However, son, I must frankly tell you the truth. 11 I have given her in marriage to seven husbands who were kinsmen of ours, and all died on the very night they approached her. But now, son, eat and drink. The Lord will look after you both.” Tobiah answered, “I will neither eat nor drink anything here until you settle what concerns me.”


Raguel said to him: “I will do it. She is yours as decreed by the Book of Moses. It has been decided in heaven that she be given to you! Take your kinswoman; from now on you are her brother, and she is your sister. She is given to you today and here ever after. May the Lord of heaven prosper you both tonight, son, and grant you mercy and peace.”


12 Then Raguel called his daughter Sarah, and she came to him. He took her by the hand and gave her to Tobiah with these words: “Take her according to the law. According to the decree written in the Book of Moses I give her to be your wife. Take her and bring her safely to your father. And may the God of heaven grant both of you a safe journey in peace!”


13 He then called her mother and told her to bring writing materials. He wrote out a copy of a marriage contract stating that he gave Sarah to Tobiah as his wife as decreed by the law of Moses. Her mother brought the material, and he drew up the contract, to which he affixed his seal.



28 One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” 29 Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! 30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”


32 The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ 33 And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.



St Gertrude was a 13th-century Cistercian of the monastery of Helfta, and she had a problem with passages like the one we just heard in the first reading today. She wondered how any one person in a monastery could give a warm welcome to visitors like Ragúel and Edna, give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, and go to visit their relatives, like Tobias and his family? If we don’t, each one of us, feed the hungry, knowing that we’re feeding Jesus, how can we say that we “love the Lord our God with all our heart”, as we just heard in the Gospel?


St Gertrude tells us in one in her writings that the Lord himself replied to her question, and his answer wasn’t what you might be expecting. He said to her: “Just as I am the salvation and the life of souls, so also, in every human being, I am always hungering and thirsting for their salvation. If an individual every day applies herself to the reading of a few words of Holy Scripture in order to edify herself, she will without any doubt allay my hunger with an extremely sweet refreshment”.


And the Lord went on to tell Gertrude that the same holds true for each of the works of mercy: these can all be practiced in this way within the monastery as well as outside. Those who do so can take to heart the words of today’s responsorial psalm: “May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life!”


No wonder that the Roman rite officially refers to our Gertrude as Sanctæ Gertrudis, cognomento Magnæ, “Saint Gertrude, called the Great”, and there is even a movement to declare her a Doctor of the Church.

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO


Prayer: “Blessed are you, Lord of Generosity. You provide us with all that we need in our lives. Give us generous hearts and make us willing to share all that we have with your people who are in need. We thank you

for all that you give to us. Amen.


Quote from a Saint: “Do you fast? Then feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, do not forget the imprisoned, have pity on the tortured, comfort those who grieve and who weep, be merciful, humble, kind, calm, patient, sympathetic, forgiving, reverent, truthful and pious, so that God might accept your fasting and might plentifully grant you the fruits of repentance."--Saint John Chrysostom


Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you give food to the hungry and perform other corporal works of mercy? What struggles to you have with this?

  2. Reflect on the concept that Jesus is “always hungering and thirsting for their salvation.” What can you do to help Jesus in regard to your salvation? What can you do to lead others to Jesus since he thirsts for their salvation as well?

  3. St. Gertrude was told in private revelation that reading the scripture daily is a way to “allay [Jesus’] hunger with an extremely sweet refreshment.” Do you read scripture each day? What are some ways that you can incorporate the reading of scripture into your daily routine?

  4. What are some other spiritual practices that can lead you on the path of salvation?

  5. What are some activities that you can do that fulfill corporal works of mercy? If you cannot think of these now use this week to contemplate ways that are fitting to your current state in life. The corporal works of mercy are: To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To harbor the harborless; To visit the sick; To ransom the captive; To bury the dead.

  6. What are some activities that you can do that fulfill spiritual works of mercy? If you cannot think of these now use this week to contemplate ways that are fitting to your current state in life. The spiritual works of mercy are: To instruct the ignorant; To counsel the doubtful; To admonish sinners; To bear wrongs patiently; To forgive offenses willingly; To comfort the afflicted; To pray for the living and the dead.

  7. Do you react to others like St. Gertrude did to Ragúel and Edna? How does seeing them as if they are Jesus effect how you would treat them? Spend time in prayer beseeching the Lord to let you see Him in all those you encounter.

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo


Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 626: Remembering the Past : A Reflection on the Book of Sirach (Sirach 44: 1, 9-13)

1 I will now praise the godly, our ancestors, in their own time.

9 Of others no memory remains,

for when they perished, they perished,

As if they had never lived,


they and their children after them.


10 Yet these also were godly;


their virtues have not been forgotten.


11 Their wealth remains in their families,


their heritage with their descendants.


12 Through God’s covenant their family endures,


and their offspring for their sake.


13 And for all time their progeny will endure,


their glory will never be blotted out.


The Book of Sirach comes to a close with a hymn honoring the ancestors of Israel. The eulogy serves as a vehicle for telling the stories that made the People of Israel who they are. Two sets of people are memorialized: the famous and the unnamed. Ben Sira’s recollections, like family stories, are precious treasures that stir something in our souls. Countless people whose names are lost to us have lived down through the ages. They raised families and passed on their family traditions. By retelling the stories, we can connect with our ancient roots. As we reflect on the stories, we are exposed to the faith experiences of old. The people have died, and the places they inhabited may no longer be found on a map, but their stories live on in the heart of the community.

Our ancestors in the faith are important because through them we have come to know God. Their names may have passed into oblivion, but their journey is the stuff of which our lives are made. The men and women of old have left behind a rich inheritance of faith and tradition without which we would not be the people we are today. The reflections of Ben Sira bring us face to face with the joys and the hopes, the griefs, and the anxieties of our ancestors in the faith. As we ponder their stories, we come to realize how deep the roots of our ancient faith go. Stories and remembrances are the lifeblood of a community. The stories shape and maintain our identity as a people loved by God. It is essential that we remember the community’s early struggles, as well as the difficulties and dangers it overcame. As important as it is to remember their triumphs and accomplishments, their tragedies, and disasters, it is more important to remember the people who experienced them. By retelling their stories, we remind ourselves of who we are. We strive to remember what makes us unique. By faithfully clinging to the stories, we shape our present as well as our future.

Because we are a people of remembrance, we gather around the Table of the Lord to offer the Divine Majesty a sacrifice of praise. We raise our voices in hymns of praise because he is ever faithful and true. We take pleasure in Him because He takes pleasure in us. He has adorned us with the graces of his Spirit and enables us to bear his image and rejoice in his happiness all the days of our life.

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Prayer: “God, Source of all hope and love, Hear our prayers for our ancestors. May the road they walked in pursuit of peace and joy in you, Mirror for us the same peace and joy we long for. May we learn from their wisdom, Better understand the challenges of their time, And appreciate the life they have given us. May we experience their presence, As a communion of your everlasting love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.” – Prayer for our Ancestors

Quote from a Saint: “You called, shouted, broke through my deafness; you flashed, blazed, banished my blindness; You breathed your fragrance on me, I gasped, and now I pant for you; I have tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst; you touched me, and I burned for your peace.” --St. Augustine

Questions for reflection:

  1. How does your family remember your ancestors? Do you tell stories about them? Prepare certain food? Keep special family traditions?

  2. How do you want to be remembered by your family?

  3. What, if any, religious traditions have been passed on to you? If you do not have any, what traditions do you want to pass on to your descendants?

  4. Have you given any thought to the fact that your descendants could be honoring you as a Saint? Are you striving for sainthood or just going with the flow?

  5. We are all called to sainthood.What can you change in your life to fulfill this call?

  6. The Gospels are an example of people remembering someone from their past (Jesus). This person was God who took on the flesh of a man. How often to you read the Gospels? When will you read the Gospels this week?

  7. Saint stories and biographies provide examples of our ancestors in the faith passing on knowledge for future generations. Do you take time to study the lives of holy men and women? Are there certain saints that resonate with you?

  8. Have you ever thought of the Mass as being an example of remembrance? Jesus said during the last supper “Do this in memory of me.” Will this change how you look at Mass the next time you attend?


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo


Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 625: Preparing for Pentecost : A Reflection on the Gospel of John (John 17 : 1-11a)


1 Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, 2 just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.


3 Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. 4 I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. 5

Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.


6 “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, 8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.


9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.



“I accomplished the work that you gave me to do”, Jesus says to the Father. And now that work, which is also the work of the Father, needs to be applied to concrete human lives. For that reason, Jesus says simply, “I pray for them”. It is the Holy Spirit who enables the human Jesus to pray, and it is the same Spirit who allows the work of Jesus to reach out and touch our lives, to fill us with his own eternal life. The work of Jesus was to redeem us and save us by shedding his blood, but it is the Holy Spirit who answers the prayer of Jesus by making that redemption and salvation ours.


St Peter talks about one way we can know that the Spirit has answered the prayer of Jesus for our own personal life. He says “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you”. If our lives are so obviously Christian that others can insult us for being religious, then we can be certain that the Holy Spirit is active within us, and that he has answered the prayer of Jesus for us.


Another sign is if we find ourselves drawn to follow the example of the apostles “after Jesus had been taken up to heaven”. “All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer”, said the reading from the Acts of the Apostles. If we too can “devote ourselves to prayer” as Jesus asked us to, then we should understand that the Holy Spirit is present and active, that he has fulfilled the will of the Father within us. That is the main concern of the Holy Spirit for us, and his whole purpose in dwelling in us: to hand down Christ to us, to apply to our own personal life all that Christ did in the name of the Father, and by the will of the Father.


Jesus adds, “I do not pray for the world, but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours”. Christians belong to God because they were baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. But God leaves us free to respond to the grace of baptism or not, and as long as we are in the world, we can ignore the presence of the Spirit within us, fail to devote ourselves to prayer, or live in such a way that no one would know that we are Christian.


Jesus asks the Father to let him “give eternal life to all those entrusted to him”, those who “have believed that it was the Father who sent him” and have been baptized, but have not let the Holy Spirit do much of anything in their lives. To all of these, scripture gives the commandment, “Be filled with the Spirit”. Stir into flame the gift of God that you have through baptism. Reject all obstacles that would prevent the kindling of the fire of the Holy Spirit. Then you can begin to feel the Spirit moving in your heart.


For this last week of the Easter season is also a week of preparation for your personal Pentecost. Every gift that God has given you is intended to be developed for his glory. Every grace is intended to create in us further grace, until we reach the fullness of the Spirit. Yet however much we struggle, the fullness of the Spirit can never lead to a feeling of satisfaction, because every fullness creates in us new tension and a sense of something missing. There is a perpetual gap between the fullness we receive in the present, and the one prepared for us in the future. But as we make room in our heart and life for the Holy Spirit, he in turn makes room within us for Christ and the eternal life that is his to give.


How precious it is, then, to know how the apostles and Mary prepared their hearts to be worthy homes for the Holy Spirit. How essential it is for our salvation and our joy to follow their example of continuous prayer for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Like them, let us surrender all thought, all will, all counsel, and all action to the Holy Spirit, that he might lead our entire life, its past with its present and its future, using our weakness and our strength, our success and our failure, our health and our sickness, in pursuit of the purpose for which Christ died for us and was raised: BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!



Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO



Quote from a saint: "The Holy Spirit is like a gardener, cultivating our souls.”-- St John Vianney



Prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.”


Questions for reflection:

  1. Have you devoted yourself to prayer? If so, how has this changed your life? If not, why not?

  2. What does your prayer life look like? Do you pray always or do you only pray during times of need? Should you pray more? Why is prayer so important?

  3. Have you tried different forms of prayer? What has been your experience with those different types?

  4. Reflect on the purpose of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, “to hand down Christ to us, to apply to our own personal life all that Christ did in the name of the Father, and by the will of the Father.” Remember that the “Holy Spirit is present and active.” How have you allowed the Holy Spirit to be active in your life?

  5. Do you live your life in a way that others could insult you for being religious (a good sign that the Holy Spirit is active within us) or do you live in such a way that no one would know that you are Christian?

  6. Have you ever prepared for Pentecost during the Easter season? What are some ways that you could prepare?

  7. Have you ever experienced a sense of something missing as you have progressed in your spiritual life? How did you react?

  8. Have you considered the Holy Spirit’s role in making “redemption and salvation ours”?


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 624: The Unknown God : A Reflection on the Book of Acts (Acts 17: 15, 22-18:1)


15 After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens, they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.


22 Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.


24 The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. 26 He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, 27 so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.


28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 29 Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.


30 God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent 31because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”


32 When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” 33 And so Paul left them. 34 But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them. 1 After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.


“As I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed: To an Unknown God.” This comment made me think about the present-day phenomenon of people identifying themselves as spiritual but not religious. Like the Athenians, they are looking for something, but don’t have a name for it. This drive to find a higher power echoes a famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Even though some people have drifted from organized religion, something inside them keeps drawing them to find this unnamable thing just beyond their grasp. This search for the “unknown” is at the core of the human heart.


The council fathers, addressing the longings of the human heart wrote: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium Et Spes, #22). We will never search alone because He who is the image of the invisible God (CF. Col. 1:15) has entered into our world to be our guide to the Father.


Because God’s love for us addresses the deepest longings of our hearts it surpasses anything we can hope or imagine. Is it any wonder that some people find formal religion a hindrance to their encounter with the living God? Because God is infinite, should we be surprised that we have difficulty putting our experience into words? Indeed, he is the “Unknown God”. St. Paul was on to something when he wrote: “We see things imperfectly, like blurred images in a mirror, but someday we will see everything with perfect clarity. Now all that we know is partial and incomplete, but someday we will know everything completely, just as God knows us” (1 Cor. 13:12). By God’s grace we shall move from glory to glory (CF 2 Cor 3:18), from unknowing to being fully known.


As we journey through life, we will discover who we are. In the silent moments, we hear that small gentle voice calling us by name. When we respond to it, we will discover the One in whom we live and move and have our being. We will discover the Unknown God who cannot be defined, confined, or controlled. He stands above us and orders all our days. He sustains us throughout our life’s journey and is closer to us than we are to ourselves. God is the Ground of Being. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and refuses to be reduced to an object of our making. The Master of the Universe dwelt among us in the flesh. Even though we may not know how to name Him, He constantly calls us by name. We need to listen for his voice with the ears of our hearts.


“Oh! That I might repose on You! Oh! That You would enter into my heart, and inebriate me, that I may forget my ills, and embrace You, my sole good! What are You to me? In Your pity, teach me to utter it… tell me, O Lord my God, what You are for me. Speak, that I may hear. Behold, Lord, my heart is before You. Say to my soul, I am thy salvation. Let me run after and cling to You” (Confessions, chapter V).


Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Quote from a saint: "Sometimes we think that we don't hear God's voice. Not because He isn't speaking but because we have the volume of the world way too loud."--Saint Mother Teresa


Prayer: “Loving God, give us hearts that listen for your word. Let us imitate the Good Samaritan, who does not turn away from suffering. Help us listen. May we listen to those who struggle daily for dignity. Let us hear your voice in the stories of those on the margins. Help us always see what binds us together as sisters and brothers. Help us to heal. May we be willing to stand in the place of others. Let us be open to difference that we may arrive at understanding. Help us to seek reconciliation that our world may reflect justice. Help us respond. May our faith move us to action in the public square. Let us work with others of good will, finding solutions together. Help us exercise political charity, seeking the common good and dignity for all. Lord, give us the courage to trust in your hand guiding us. Give us the courage to respond like the Good Samaritan, setting aside divisions to attend to the needs of the other. May we know and see your love present in our communities, made real in the ways we love one another. Amen.”--USCCB

Questions for reflection:

  1. In what ways do you see people who are not religious searching for a higher power? Why would God put this desire on the human heart?

  2. Have you gone through a period of conversion or reversion where you felt the calling of the unknown God? How did you respond? How do you keep responding?

  3. Do you follow a religious rule or have a plan of life that helps you to continue listening for the still small voice? If so, have you found this to be helpful? If not, why not start developing one?

  4. What dangers are there in pursuing a higher power but refusing to follow an organized religion? What are some of the benefits of religion?

  5. In what ways does the Catholic Church provide guidance to finding the authentic God? How does it safeguard the faith?

  6. How has your Catholic faith lead you to peace? If you are not at peace, what is preventing that?

  7. The Church has had various types of spirituality throughout its long history. In what ways does this variety help people to relate to God? Is there a certain type of spirituality that is appealing to you?

  8. How did Jesus coming down to Earth help make God more knowable to humans?


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 623: Spiritual Encouragement : A Reflection on the Book of Acts (Acts 14: 19-28)

19 However, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

21 After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.

22 They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” 23 They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

24 Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. 25After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. 27 And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

“They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith.” This phrase hit me like a breath of fresh air. Recently, we have been inundated with reports of people being demeaned and ridiculed and I found it refreshing to hear about people trying to build each other up. In the face of all the confusion in the world, we need to strengthen the spirits of the people we meet and encourage them to keep walking the path that will lead them to their heavenly homeland.

To strengthen someone’s spirit and to encourage the individual to keep walking, we need to enter into an open and frank conversation with them. Many people are angry and defensive because they have been hurt by society, or by the church, or their family members. In the face of this reality, they do not need to be condemned for their anti-social behavior. Rather, they need the ointment of compassion and empathy so that they can be healed of the hurt they have suffered. I am not naive, I know the process is messy, and it takes time, but it needs to be engaged in. Recall Pope Francis’s comment In Evangelii Gaudium (‘Joy of the Gospel’).

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light, and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.” (EG,49)


When we deal with people who feel powerless, diminished, fearful, or insecure, we need to be compassionate, and patient. Reaching out to people in distress is risky and often daunting. No one ever said that Christian love would be easy. I came across a noteworthy comment attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” As the Barque of Peter, we need to set out from our safe harbors and search for people who have been cast adrift on the storm-tossed sea. “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be” (EG,24).


Each one of us has been invited to live in Christ, to ground our lives firmly in his love. All the baptized need to be confirmed and rooted in the faith. Seeing the Word take root in the hearts of those we meet, we will rejoice to hear that he has opened the door of faith for them. Following the example of the apostles, may we strengthen the hearts of our brothers and sisters and be for them a light of hope as they continue their journey to the Father.

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Quote from a Saint: “Abandonment to the will of God is the secret of happiness on earth. Say, then: meus cibus est, ut faciam voluntatem eius, my food is to do his will.”--St. Josemaría Escrivá. The Way, No. 766


Prayer: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
”--St. Francis of Assisi

Questions for reflection:

  1. How often do you strengthen other people’s spirits and exhort them to persevere in the faith? When you did this, what was the result? If you haven’t, why not start today? Have others done this for you? If so, what was the result?

  2. What are some ways one can strengthen other people’s spirits? Where should you start? Pray about this. Read how the followers of Jesus did so in Acts and imitate them.

  3. Are you as fearless as St. Paul was in living your faith publicly? Do you pray in public, such as saying grace at a restaurant? Do you make the sign of the cross or just say grace silently so as to remain unseen? You never know whose life you could positively impact through your witness when praying publicly.

  4. Reflect on the quote from Pope Frances:“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” Do you find yourself sticking to things that are safe and comfortable when it comes to sharing your faith with others? What are some ways that you get outside of your comfort zone?

  5. We are the hand and feet of Christ and Jesus said in the Judgement of the Nations, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) How do you see yourself fulfilling this role?

  6. Reflect on the idea of taking on “the smell of the sheep” as an evangelizer. Do you smell like the sheep in your life?

  7. “As the Barque of Peter, we need to set out from our safe harbors and search for people who have been cast adrift on the storm-tossed sea.” This sounds like the Irish monks who would put themselves into a coracle (small boat) and allow God to float them to wherever He wanted them to end up. How are you about giving up control and letting God lead your life? In your silent prayer time ask Him and then act on what he tells you.

  8. It is easy to be compassionate and practice charity amongst those whom we love. We are called to love all people, even those who hate us or make us feel uncomfortable. How are you doing with this? How do you feel when you reach out to those who are difficult to love? During your prayer time ask Jesus to let you see others through His eyes and with His heart.

  9. “Each one of us has been invited to live in Christ, to ground our lives firmly in his love.” How do we ground our lives in Christ’s love? The Church has ways to help us do this: the Sacraments, reading the New Testament regularly, silent prayer time, adoration, and other devotions. Are any of these practices part of your spiritual life?


--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 622: The Good Shepherd: A Reflection on the Gospel of John (Acts 2: 14a, 36-41, John 10: 1-10)

[Acts 2] 14a Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: 36 “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” 38 Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”

40 He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.

[John 10] 1 “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. 2 But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

3 The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.

5 But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” 6 Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

7 So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

"Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:14). The Shepherd was led to the slaughter like a silent sheep, but God raised him in glory to shepherd the flock and lead it to lush pasture. “All of us, like sheep, have gone astray and followed our own way” (Is. 53:6). Through the Paschal Mystery we are reminded that God so loved the world that he send his only son to seek, find, and save the lost (CF. Lk. 19:10). The Only-begotten Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart (CF. Jn. 1:18) leaped down from heaven leaving his royal throne (CF. Wis. 18:15) to search out and find those who had gone astray, calling each one by name (CF. Jn. 10:3). “Like a shepherd, he tends the flock. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Is. 40:1). Jesus shares the intimacy that he has with the Father with us.

Seeing our pitiable condition, the Good Shepherd is moved to compassion for us. As he sets out in search of his lost sheep, the shepherd prays: “Father, [help me find them] so that they all may be one, just as you are in me, and I am in you” (Jn. 17:21). It is important to keep in mind that Jesus does not excuse our wandering just to make us feel good about ourselves. Rather, he seeks us out and walks with us so that we might come to the truth and be set free. Gently and honestly, he speaks to our hearts; then he patiently waits for our response. Only then, when we are ready to let Him, does He pick us up and draw us close to His heart. The wonder of mercy, God urgently and passionately calls to us, but He leaves us free to respond. He will only wrap his arms around us if we let him. Only those who surrender to his loving call can receive remission of their sins and enjoy the newness of life in the Spirit.


The image of the shepherd calling his sheep by name and leading them out brought to mind a verse from the Book of Genesis. “The man and his wife heard the voice of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze” (Gen. 3:8). God enters into our personal space and speaks a word of love to our hearts. The Psalmist having heard the call of God penned these beautiful words. “Know that the Lord is God. He created us, and we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his flock” (Ps. 100: 3). We can confidently depend on the Good Shepherd’s love and care for us. He leads us to lush green pastures. He protects us from attacks of ravenous beasts. When we wander off on our own, he risks his own life to find us and bring us back to the fold. When we are thirsty He brings us to streams of living water. We have no reason to fear because the Lamb was slain so that we might live. By his wounds, we have been healed and by his victory over sin and death, we have found peace of mind and heart.


The good Shepherd knows his sheep and loves them. He lays down his life to protect them from harm. He guides them with His Spirit and word. He calls each one to follow Him and then personally shows us the way that leads to the Father. Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd who cares for his sheep and takes a personal interest in each of us. There is no limit to God’s love for us. No enemy can snatch us out of his hand. In Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we come to know God’s all-consuming desire to be with us and be part of our lives. He defends us from harm and keeps us safe. He wards off all danger by placing himself between us and all that could harm us. Jesus Christ takes on himself the task of reuniting the flock, being the shepherd and guardian of our souls. 


In another place, John wrote: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me” (Jn. 14:6). This is a reiteration of Jesus’s comment “I am the gate for the sheep” (Jn. 10:9). He is not only our guardian from harm. He is also our access to the Father of Lights, the Shepherd of Israel. We need to keep in mind Paul’s words to Timothy, “There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). When Jesus calls himself the gate for the sheep, he is speaking of his special relationship to the sheep. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, “Jesus and the people he makes holy have one Father. For this reason, he is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters” (Heb. 2:11).


Since Jesus is not ashamed to acknowledge us as intimate members of his family, we should joyfully acknowledge him as our brother, Lord, and Savior. The Shepherd of our souls laid down his life for us so that we might “have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). The sheep of God’s flock are offered a relationship of trust and safety because of the loving compassion of the shepherd. Not only does He grant us abundant life, but He also safeguards that life for us. Having entered the fold, we need to listen attentively to the voice of the shepherd and follow wherever he leads. The Christian vocation is always a renewal of this personal friendship with Jesus Christ, which gives full meaning to our lives and makes us open to the Kingdom of God. 


Day by day we must learn to communicate the life of Christ, Lamb, and Shepherd, to all we meet. The Good Shepherd tends his flock with deep tenderness and with an outstretched arm he protects it from evil. Having been grafted to the shepherd through Baptism, we are called to exist for others, for Christ. Through Him and with him we are called to be there for the people he seeks, whom he wants to lead on the path of life. May the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for us continue to accompany us throughout our journey to the Father. May the Good Shepherd, who left no stone unturned as he searched for us, make us patent with one another. As the Good Shepherd walks ahead of us may we keep our eyes focused on Him and follow Him wherever He leads. 

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Quote from a Saint: On the CrossHow precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste… By the cross, death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, and the sanctification of the saints. By the cross, we put on Christ and cast aside our former selves. By the cross, we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.”-- St Theodore the Studite


Prayer: Prayer to Follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd “Gentle Jesus, compassionate and caring Good Shepherd, help me to follow You faithfully. Strengthen me daily with Your love, and guide me along life's paths. Keep me free from every evil, protect me from sickness and danger, and lead me to serve You with all my mind and heart and soul. Hear my needs and grant me petitions, especially these intentions important to me at this time: {Mention your petitions here} Bless me each day with peace of mind and heart. May I experience Your saving power in my daily life, as I await the fullness of life and joy with You forever. Amen.”


Questions for reflection:


  1. Has the Good Shepherd ever come looking for you because you became separated from the flock?

  2. Have you ever “heard” the voice of the Shepherd calling you? In what ways did that happen? How did you react?

  3. The followers of Christ are represented as being sheep. Do you think of yourself as a sheep who needs a shepherd, or do you try to be the shepherd? Which one do you think Jesus wants you to be in relation to Him?

  4. The Good Shepherd carries and protects his sheep. Are you comfortable with this concept? Will you let the Good Shepherd carry and defend you?

  5. The Good Shepherd recognizes his sheep. Would he recognize you? Why or why not?

  6. The God of the Universe became man. How do you think that affects His relationship with His sheep?

  7. Jesus is not ashamed to acknowledge us. Have you ever been afraid or hesitant to acknowledge Him? Does this hesitancy occur in certain situations or amongst certain people? Pray about this and ask the Good Shepherd to show you how you should react when you find yourself being ashamed of Him.

  8. How do you listen to the voice of the Lord? Do you spend time in silent prayer? Do you make a regular holy hour? The noise of the world can make it hard to hear Him. Find some quiet moments and place yourself in His presence and see what happens. Make a plan to do so this week.

  9. How do you witness to Christ in you daily life? Would people know that you are one of His by the witness of your life?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 621: On the Road to Emmaus : A Reflection on the Gospel of Luke (Luke 24 : 13-35)

13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.

15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.

21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. 24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”

25 And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. 29 But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. 32 Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” 33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


“He gave the impression that he was going on farther”. But his heart remained with his two fellow travelers whom he was apparently leaving, and his wish was that the sight of him going away might kindle in their hearts a great desire that he would gladly yield to. It’s just like Jesus to do that. He used to do it over and over again in his earthly ministry.

Once, when the disciples were out on a lake, Jesus came walking on the waters, and “he gave the impression that he was going on farther”, but when the disciples cried out, he got into the boat. Then there were the two blind men by the roadside crying out, “Son of David, have mercy on us”. But “he gave the impression that he was going on farther” to Jerusalem. The purpose of this apparent indifference was revealed when, as the Gospel puts it, “They cried out more earnestly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us’”.

And that is what he does with all of us sometimes: he seems to leave our wishes and our longings all unnoticed. Then we may think to ourselves, “What’s the use of crying out to him? He doesn’t hear me”. But God raised “Christ from the dead and gave him glory” for that very reason – “so that your faith and hope would be in God”, faith to hear the promise: “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it”, fill it with the Body and Blood of Christ.

Christ has no other reason for any of the delays he puts us through than to make us capable of a richer blessing, because delay deepens our longing, just as absence makes the heart grow fonder. He has an infinite desire this morning, just as he did on that resurrection evening, to draw near to every heart and impress upon us that he has been raised to life and that he lives to bless us. But he cannot draw near to us unless we want him to, and he cannot give us more of himself than we wish. Therefore he has to make our desires greater and stronger, and then he will answer them.

Remember what the Gospels say about the villagers in his native Galilee: “He could work no miracles there because of their unbelief”. Our lack of faith is what limits his power; our faith is the measure of our capacity to receive a blessing from him. He asks us this morning, as he asked the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, “Are you slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke”?

There is one other thing hidden in this morning’s Gospel: Jesus is glad when we “urge him to stay with us”. “They urged him” is a very strong phrase, something like the one Jesus himself used when he spoke about the kingdom of heaven suffering violence, “and the violent take it by storm”. There is a real power in the hearts that really desire Jesus: they can tell him what he should do for them and how much of himself he should give them. On the other hand, the weakness of our desire limits to some extent what God can do for us, because unless we feel on fire as he converses with us on the road, we cannot recognize what he is doing in our lives.

So we are all in the position of the two disciples of Jesus. We can make sure that Jesus will always be our companion on the way to the Father if we do two things. First, he will stay with us always if we honestly and really wish him to be with us all the day long, and if we never go anywhere where he cannot go with us.

And second, as Pope St Peter put it in his first encyclical this morning [Acts 2:14, 22-33], we must “conduct ourselves with reverence during the time of our sojourning”. Our life is a journey we must travel with a deep consciousness of God, so we should not do anything or cultivate any attitude which would drive him away. How can we ask him to come in and sit down in a house which is full of filth and worldliness? First turn the demons out and open the door a crack, and Someone will say, “ I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you”.

He may “give the impression that he’s going on farther”, but if you urge him to stay with you, then at the breaking of bread he will come right in and stay with you, vanishing from your sight, but leaving your heart burning within you.

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

Quote from a Saint: “With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind--Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us. Amen


Questions for Reflection:

  1. What do you think the disciples were feeling as they walked on the road to Emmaus? Have you ever felt lost or confused, like these disciples?

  2. Why do you think they didn’t recognize Jesus at first?

  3. How did Jesus reveal Himself to the disciples? Why do you think Jesus chose to reveal Himself in this way?

  4. Reflect on how this encounter with Jesus is similar to the Mass. How is the conversation between the disciples and Jesus like the Liturgy of the Word? How is the meal with Jesus like the Liturgy of the Eucharist?

  5. What did the disciples do after they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread? What should we do when we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist?

  6. Have you ever had to wait for God to answer your prayers? Did it make you more able to receive the graces God’s gift to you?

  7. “How can we ask him to come in and sit down in a house which is full of filth and worldliness?” What are you doing to cultivate a place in yourself that is welcoming to Christ?

  8. This encounter with Christ shows the historicity of looking for Christ in the Old Testament. When you read or study the Old Testament do you look for clues of the coming of Christ?

  9. The disciples did not take detailed notes on what Christ said as he opened the Scriptures for them. Do you think some of these teachings made it into the New Testament?


--Kristen & Benjamin Rinaldo

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