Tender Heart

Challenge: Offer up a decade of the rosary for an increase in priestly vocations.
by Father Edward McIlmail, LC | Source: Catholic.net

July 8, 2008
Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 9:32-38
A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the demon was driven out the mute person spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." But the Pharisees said, "He drives out demons by the prince of demons." Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, it's good that I'm here with you. Your presence makes life worth living. You are the source of hope and the model of charity that guides me. Let me focus on this prayer with the same intensity that you showed in your mission.

Petition: Good Jesus, enliven my heart with a sense of compassion for others.

1. Thick Skin  Jesus astonished his audiences with his miracles and teachings. Indeed, Israel had never seen anything like him. Not everyone was favorably impressed, however. The Pharisees attributed the worst of motives to Jesus. But did that stop Our Lord? Hardly. He continued his work unabated: preaching, teaching, healing. He seemed to have thick skin; insults bounced off him. Do I have that same quality? Am I undeterred in sharing the Gospel with others? Am I generous with those who need my help, such as my parish and my family? To fear "what others will think" is not Jesus' way. He wants us to be bold in witnessing to our faith. "Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father" (Matthew 10:32). Do I keep doing good, even when others speak badly of me?

2. He Felt their Pain  Our Lord oozes compassion for confused souls. Where weakness abounds, his strength surges. Where wounds abound, his healing reigns. No one who approaches him with hope ever comes away disappointed. Christ's heart thirsts for souls, and he shows great willingness to meet us where we are. In turn, he asks us to show that same kind of concern for those around us. Do I show compassion to those struggling in their personal lives or in their spiritual lives?

3. Lifetime Laborers  Christ, as High Priest intercedes for humanity before his heavenly Father. Christ, as true God and true man, bridges the gap between human beings and the Father. And Jesus chooses to exercise his priesthood through human instruments, down to this very day. So important is the role of priests that the Church is unthinkable without them. "The assembly gathered together for the celebration of the Eucharist, if it is to be a truly Eucharistic assembly, absolutely requires the presence of an ordained priest as its president," Pope John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, No. 29. The priesthood reflects Christ's love for us, and the priestly life is a beautiful way to serve the Church. Moreover, each priest has numerous souls depending on his fidelity; that is why vocations are everyone's concern. Would I be willing to support a vocation in my family? If called, would I be willing to serve as a priest?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me see the best in people. Help me see that each person motivated you to shed your blood on a cross. Grant me the compassion to see confused souls as people who need my support. Let me appreciate deeply the way you work through priests and bishops.

Resolution: I will offer up a decade of the rosary for an increase in priestly vocations.

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