…….Reflections from Fr. Andres
In this Sunday Gospel, we hear how Jesus miraculously fed the crowd of his hungry disciples. Jesus asked the Apostle Philip: ‘Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?.’ But Jesus knew exactly what He was going to do. He knew how He was going to feed the hungry crowd. Jesus’ miracle was not only about feeding people. The miracle
was to be a sign for the people gathered there, that Jesus was the true prophet, who was to come into the world, and be a king for his people. Clearly these words show that the
crowd had faith in who Jesus was.
Above all Jesus wanted his disciples to realize who He is, and the great power that his disciples would have if they believed in him and followed him. When Jesus asked,‘Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?,’ he wanted his disciples to learn that they would take part in building the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus did not want his miracles such as the multiplication of the loaves to end, when He ascended into heaven. He wanted the Twelve to have faith and to trust that they could work miracles, too. In Every Holy Mass we take part in the Most Holy Eucharist. The greatest miracle, which Jesus has given us through his priests, the successors of the Apostles. Today He does not feed thousands of people with ordinary bread, but millions of the faithful with the true bread of heaven, his Body under the appearance of bread.
We have been going to church and receiving communion since we were children, and sometimes we can miss the sacredness of what we are doing, that we are taking part in a
great and true miracle. We can forget that we receive the true Body of Jesus, that we are united with God himself, that our heart is the dwelling-place of the Lord. In Holy Communion, God comes to us; He unites himself with us; so that each person can be united with God. God gives himself as a gift, as our daily bread, the bread of life, the source of life for our souls.
Brother and sister in Christ, this Sunday, when we leave the church after Holy Mass, strengthened by the Word of God and nourished by true bread from heaven, remember that we have participated in a true miracle of Jesus. Let us remember that He is still with us every day and every moment, because He has become for us the food of eternal life. May God bless you. Amen.
July 18, 2021 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Readings: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34.
When I read this Sunday Gospel, one thing especially strikes me: when people come to Jesus, they want to see him, to hear him, to touch him. Jesus tried to get away with the Apostles, to rest a little bit. But the people saw them leaving, found out where they were going, and went there before Jesus, and his Apostles arrived. This means that the people desired to be with Jesus, to hear him.
These events happened before Jesus’s greatest miracles: the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, His resurrection, and the sending of the Holy Spirit. So we can ask, What were they looking for? Why did they want to meet Jesus? What were they hoping to hear or see? Maybe they wanted to hear wise parables, or to see a miracle; maybe some were sick and wanted to be healed, or recognized that they were sinners and wanted to be reconciled; maybe some were in trouble and despair and wanted words of hope and encouragement.
Whatever they hoped to find in Jesus, the people followed him like a deer that longs for water, or sheep looking for a shepherd. Did they find what they were looking for? I think they did. And the fruit of their search was faith: the decision to follow Jesus as their Messiah.
In our time many people are seeking an intimate encounter with Jesus. They want to experience his grace and mercy. But at the same time, they are afraid. Looking at the lives of Christians, at our lives, they are not sure if Christianity is a true way of meeting God. Or maybe for them, it is difficult to live up to the moral standards of Christianity.
It is up to us, to help people, who are looking for spirituality, who want to meet the living God, to show them the way to Jesus, our Good Shepherd. By our good life, let us be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Let the light of our love, guide them on the way to Jesus. May God bless you. Amen.
July 11, 2021 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.Readings: Amos 7:12-15, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:7-13.
In this Sunday brief meditation, I would like to start from the end namely, the words which conclude the celebration of the Mass: “Go in the peace,” or “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” or “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” It sometimes seems that people who come to Mass await these words like a tired soldier, waiting to be told he can stand “at ease.” Immediately after hearing these words, people hurry out of the church, relieved that they have fulfilled their obligation to participate in Sunday Mass.
However, the word “go” here does not so much signal the end of the Mass, but the beginning of our mission to go forth and bear witness to the world. When Jesus used the word “Go,” He was usually commanding someone to perform a task, especially sending people out on a mission, for example, when He sent the Apostles out to preach to all nations.
In this Sunday Gospel, Jesus first summons the Twelve before He sends them out into the world. We cannot go out into the world to spread the word of Jesus, unless we have first been summoned by him. Jesus calls us here to the Mass, nourishes us with his Word and his Body, and then sends us out, saying, “Go in peace. Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
Personal contact with Jesus is necessary before He can send us out to announce the Good News. This contact increases our love and deepens our faith. Our encounter with Christ gives us courage and zeal. That is how it was with the Twelve Apostles, and that is how it is with us in the Church today.
There are different ways to go out on mission, to announce the Gospel, but the most important is by witness of how we live our lives. A good example of this is Blessed Charles de Foucauld. Foucauld was a convert to the Catholic faith. He became a monk and a priest, and later lived in southern Algeria, sharing the life and hardship of the local people, who were not Christians.
This is how Foucauld described his mission: “Every Christian must be an apostle, this is not a counsel, it is a commandment. My apostolate must be an apostolate of goodness. On seeing me people should say to themselves, since this man is so good, his religion must be good. And if I am asked why I am so gentle and good I must reply, because I am the servant of the One whose goodness is still greater.”
Brothers and sisters, at the end of the Mass, when we hear the words, “Go forth!” we should take it as a commandment. We have been filled with God’s word, and inspired by
Jesus to go out on a mission, to proclaim our faith in Jesus by our good, honest, lives. May God bless you. Amen.
Are we able to see the presence of God in others? Are we able to recognize that God speaks through others? Do we see and acknowledge the prophets of our own time? This Sunday readings call us to open our hearts, our minds, and our whole being to the presence of God in others. The first reading is from the Prophet Ezekiel. God sends prophets to His people. We do not always like to hear the words that a prophet speaks. On the other hand, not everyone, who speaks is a prophet. The Old Testament and the New both understand clearly that a true prophet must speak according to the Word of God, and
not according to the words of men.
Today many claim to be prophetic, but most lack any claims to speaking the Word of God. A true prophet in our Christian tradition must reflect both the Holy Scriptures and the Church. The Prophet Ezekiel clearly speaks the same message as the other prophets and that message is always the same: faithfulness to God’s word revealed in Holy Scripture, love for God, love for others, care for the needy, and the oppressed.
This message of the Scriptures remains the same from the beginning to the end of the Scriptures. The message always demands that we give up our own concerns and be concerned only for God and God’s message for us. The moment we begin to seek our own good, our own enrichment, our own way of thinking, then we become unfaithful to
the word of God.
The second reading is from the Second Letter to the Corinthians. Here we also listen to God’s word: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” We are invited to embrace the word of Jesus Christ with all our strength and all our being. When we do embrace this word of God, we shall surely suffer and know our own weaknesses. This also is a form of prophecy, because the more we embrace Christ and follow His way, the more our lives speak about God and His incredible love for us. We prophesy simply by living.
The Gospel is from Saint Mark and takes us back to the challenge of rejection. We should remember that Ezekiel told us that it does not matter if a prophet is recognized or not. What matters is that the prophet speaks the word of God. This Gospel points out that we can reject a true prophet simply because we do not believe that God acts in the ordinary events of our lives and in seemingly ordinary people.
God is always speaking to us: in others, in the events of our lives, in the Church, in our world. In order to understand God, we must be attentive first of all to His revealed word. When that revealed Word is our whole way of living, then we begin to recognize His word in all the other realities of our lives. Today God invites us: listen to the prophets. Open your heart and mind and being. God loves you and wishes to speak with you. Harden not your heart today. May God bless you. Amen.
June 27, 2021 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Readings: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43.
Everything that exists on earth has a mission and purpose of being and God who made the universe has a purpose for making it. He has said that his plan for us is not disaster but love and goodness. Jesus is life per excellence and gives life to all that he has made. He also has the sole right to give life and to destroy. He made humanity in his own image and likeness and since he made man a replica of himself endowed him with the germ of immortality.
This is the crux of the matter in the first reading. It is not his will that man made in his likeness and image which is immortal should face mortality. It was according to the book of wisdom the plans and desire of the Devil since he has incurred death and wishes not to die alone but man too. He made man disobey and go against the way that leads to life which necessitated the death penalty of humanity. This goodwill of God is clearly shown in the acts of Jesus in this Sunday Gospel; this is a proof of his saying that he came that we may have life abundantly.
Any person who does not like to be around Jesus or close to him is lost and desires death, sickness and pain for himself. Those who come around Jesus come because they will have their troubles taken away from them by the one who has all powers to do all things well for us. Humanity continues to rally round Jesus for solutions to their problems since in him is the solution to all life’s issues. Certain things are very necessary as we go near and around Jesus: Faith, complete Trust, total abandonment, Obedience to his will, Love of his law, Love for others and charity towards all people. Jesus in his acts in this Sunday Gospel made it clear that he cannot wait and allow sickness and unruly death to attack those whom he loves and who have fulfilled the aforementioned criteria.
The two mysterious and miraculous episodes in this Sunday Gospel challenge us all who answer Christians and who go to Jesus daily for one need or the other. The woman with the issue of blood has conviction in what Jesus can do in her situation, she believed in the power of Jesus, her faith disposed her well to do even the little act of touch believing she shall be well and it was so for her. She had complete trust that Jesus would do it; she must have kept the will of God in reaching him and keeping his commands.
These conditions of gaining attention and receiving efficacy of God’s graceful love were also fulfilled in the life of the centurion. He believed only in Jesus and did not go to another, he was patient waiting for the time of God to do his will, he showed great humility in going to Jesus. Despite how desperate his situation was and its urgency, he allowed God to do it at his own time believing that even though he can delay but surely he will do it. He defiled the discouragement of others and their advice to seek help from the wrong source. He was focused and resolute in his decision.
How many of us today can learn from these two pillars of faith and ideal in the followership of Jesus? When we are faced with similar problems can we measure up to their conviction and manner of gaining divine help? It is also necessary that we be charitable and helpful to others according to the instructions of St Paul in the second reading, so that when we are also in need God would show mercy to us since in his beatitudes he has said that blessed are the merciful for they shall have mercy shown them.
If you deny people around you the little help they need and seek from you, how can you get some help from God at the moment of your own needs? We pray that we may cease, and utilize well all opportunities to help others and that we may extol the Lord for helping us, may he raise our soul from death and restore us back to life when we sink into the grave. May God bless you. Amen.
There’s a mystery in the Gospel of Mark, and the disciples really do not get it for most of the story. The question is: who is Jesus? They have an idea that he is more than just a great teacher, but figuring out exactly who he is baffles them, even after Peter’s profession of faith shortly. In this Sunday Gospel reading, they are someplace they have been many times before, since most of them are fishermen. They are crossing the Sea of Galilee at night in a boat, and a windstorm has come up.
The sea in biblical times is the sign of chaos: the uncontrollable power of nature that can lash out unexpectedly to devastate and destroy without warning. Most of the creation myths of the surrounding countries talked about how the creator God harnessed the ocean, parting the sea to make the dry land arise like the book of Genesis talks about, and brought order where there was none before. The Disciples are worried about being swallowed up in primitive chaos, by powers beyond human control.
Jesus is asleep in the bottom of the boat. From our perspective, this should be a signal that everything is going to be all right, because if Jesus is asleep what could really go wrong. But they are worried about going under and they wake him up with a strange line: “Does is matter to you that we are going to die?” On a person level, that’s a bit of attitude coming out, isn’t it? On the larger scale, it’s a typical cry of those about to be inundated by chaos, and most of the gods of antiquity were indifferent to individual human survival. The disciples are desperate, so they wake Jesus up.
He does not spend much time setting things right, does he? Tells the wind to be still, tells the disciples they are worry warts, and then presumably goes back to sleep. And the disciples wonder who’s in the boat with them. The answer should be pretty clear from the bits of cultural analysis we just walked through. Who is that can control primitive chaos? The Creator God. Jesus is the Son of God; the answer is in front of them, and they really do not get it. The means of their deliverance from any danger is right in front of them and they do not realize it.
There are times when Christ seems a long way away, but God is not watching us from a distance. God is right here with us right now in Christ. The one who can calm any storm that shakes our spirit is right here, right now. It’s easy to forget that the one who guides us, who keeps us from losing ourselves in the chaos of life, who strengthens us to face anything life can throw at us, is right here, right now, and will help us whenever we are open to His help.
The presence of Christ is here, and it’s the only presence that matters. It may be here in different guises, through different people, but it’s here as we rock in the storms of our life, and it’s here to calm the waves whenever we sincerely ask. May God bless you. Amen.
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
Readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24; Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34.
In this Sunday Gospel Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God and the development of the Kingdom. Jesus speaks about grain which is scattered on the ground, germinates and grows almost without our notice, and in the time of harvest yields fruit. Listening to God’s Word, we must note that it applies primarily to Jesus Christ, who is not only the sower of grain, but the
Through his incarnation, life, passion, death and resurrection, he became the seed that yielded a hundredfold. Jesus also compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed: “when it is sown in the ground, it is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
This, too, applies to Christ, who is the beginning, the head of the Church, his Mystical Body. His church is like a huge tree that started from a small seed. All around the world people find refuge in its shade, even those who do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
This small seed of grain is for us a symbol of Jesus Christ, who was planted in the garden where he was buried and emerged shortly after his Resurrection, standing tall like a great tree. “We can say that when he died, he was like a small seed. He was a small seed by the humiliation of his flesh, a great tree by the glorification of his majesty. He was a small seed when he appeared to us all disfigured; and he was a great tree when he was resurrected as the most handsome of men.”
“The branches of this mysterious tree are the holy preachers of the Gospel, whose fame is recorded in the psalm: “A report goes forth through all the earth, their messages, to the ends of the world.” The birds rest on these branches, while the souls of the just, who have been raised up above earth’s attractions on the wings of holiness, find in the words of these preachers of the Gospel the consolation they need in the hardships and drudgery of this life.”
This Sunday Gospel also refers to us, to our faith, its growth and development in our hearts as well as our witness, transmitting the faith to others, sharing the Word of Life with those
whom the Lord puts on our path every day. Every day the Lord comes to us with His grace and power, although sometimes “we do not know how” this happens. This action of the Lord and His grace in our lives is sometimes not only a gift, but also a great mystery.
A seed scattered on the earth had grown and borne fruit. Our Lord has great power. The Kingdom of God has within it the potential for enormous development, especially in adverse conditions. And faith grows stronger, when the conditions for practicing the faith are more difficult.
For centuries Jesus Christ, the Sower, has been sowing his Word in our hearts. He knows that some of our hearts are like fertile soil, some are like poor soil, and others are stony soil. The Divine Sower, however, will not grow tired. He sows his seed in everyone and expects an ample harvest.
So let us become the best soil that we can be. Let us make the Word of God sown in us today, bring a rich harvest in the coming days. Let us remember that in this world, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith is longing, trust and hope that what our Lord has promised us will be fulfilled. For the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. And “our hearts are restless until they rest in God. May God bless you. Amen.
The solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ brings our focus back to the source and summit of our Christian life, which is the Eucharist. It is the center of our faith, because it is Christ himself being present in the Eucharist. Many times, however, we lose sight of this wonderful gift. Our life of faith becomes secondary to the many others things we consider to be more important, like our jobs, our ministry, or even leisure. Many of us even come to church thinking of the many things we still have to do, instead of focusing on the Mystery unfolding in our midst. We fix our minds to the future, while the Divine reveals itself into our present moment.
In the Old Testament, God revealed his presence and extended to the people the gift of the covenant. This covenant between God and the people of Israel was celebrated with the blood of sacrificed animals. Half of the blood of the animal sacrifice was poured over the altar, while the other half over the twelve stones representing the people. This rite signified an alliance between God and Israel. God then promised to bless and protect them, as they too must observe his commandments. Throughout the history of people of Israel, we see God’s commitment and love for his people. This love culminated in the new covenant.
The new covenant is created, not through the blood of goats, sheep or young bulls, but through the blood of Jesus himself. The sacrifice of the Lamb is seen in the body of Christ hanging on the cross and the blood flowing from his side. And this sacrifice continues to be given to us in our celebration of the Eucharist, for as Jesus himself said of the bread: “This is my body,” and of the wine: “This is my blood.” The Eucharist then leads us to a continuous experience of God’s presence, blessing and protection. But as in the old covenant, we must also keep our commitment and fidelity to Him.
Our new covenant in Christ is about life. It does not only solidify our relationship with God, but it also builds “blood-relations” among the believers, through the very blood of Jesus. We become brothers and sisters of one same family, which is the Church. Our participation in the Eucharist then deepens our union with God and our relationship with all other believers.
The Eucharist is a continuing reminder of the new covenant, and of Christ as our mediator. Jesus said, after all: “Do this in remembrance of me.” We could easily be distracted and dismiss God’s presence in our lives, but we are invited to be faithful. And fidelity to Him entails “remembering.” Thus, “Do this in remembrance of me” does not signify a simple recall of past events, but a constant experience of God in our present life and an endless invitation to be faithfulto Him. He himself does not forget us and remains faithful to his covenant with us. God never forgets his people. He is faithful and always present.
If God is always present in our lives, how are our lives different? How are we being faithful to God and to this new covenant? We are faithful to the covenant when we follow the way shown to us by Christ. We take the cup of salvation and proclaim it to the world with our words and our deeds, as the psalmist puts it: “I will raise the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.” God becomes present to the world because our lives proclaim him. We express our fidelity to the Lord, when we call on him with humility, trusting in the promise of eternal life. We call on the Lord, and we give thanks for God’s love always present to us in the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. May God bless you. Amen.
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year B. Readings:
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20.
This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, one of the greatest mysteries of our faith: One God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This mystery of faith distinguishes Christianity in a special way from all the other religions in the world. It is the basis of everything in which we believe and everything that we profess as Christians. The doctrine of the Trinity tells us about the inner life of God, the unity and love that continually flows among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is not a lonely, isolated deity. A relationship of love is inscribed in His very being. For “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
The mystery of the Trinity permeates our entire life, every day, and we acknowledge this reality, even if we do not think much about it. Because we begin and end every day by making the Sign of the Cross in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Sign of the Cross made in the name of the Trinity is also the beginning and end of all our prayers. How often we offer praise to God saying: “Glory to the Father and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” This is not surprising.
As disciples of Christ we belong to God in the Holy Trinity, because we have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. That is what our Lord Jesus Christ commanded when He sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel and to baptize in the name of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
We are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity and the Spirit of God leads us. “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Since we are children of God, we should live and
act as those whose Father is God, as children of light. For “in the heavens above and onearth below, there is no other God. You must keep his statutes and commandments.” In the same way, our Lord Jesus Christ commanded his Apostles to “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
We are looking at the most important and most mysterious truth of our faith. The human mind is unable to comprehend the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore humbly assume the attitude of the Saints, who did not seek knowledge of God, but confessed faith in God’s presence and lived that faith every day. We were baptized in the name of the Trinity; let us always
live our lives in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May God bless you. Amen.
The Solemnity of Pentecost, Year B.
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Gal 5:16-25; John 20:19-23.
On this Sunday, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the Apostles. But when we want to comprehend more deeply the mystery of the Holy Spirit, a question arises in the heart: Who is the Holy Spirit? Who is he that, in the form of “tongues as of fire,” descended at Pentecost upon the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room? Many speak of him as the great Unknown or the Unknown God.
Despite careful reading of the Scriptures, we still cannot fully understand the mystery of his existence. In fact, we can say more about the actions of the Holy Spirit than we can say about the Spirit Himself. We recognize Him by His sanctifying action, His gifts and charisms. Jesus calls the Spirit the Paraclete, which in Greek means advocate, comforter, counselor, or helper. But these terms refer more to the functions or actions than to the individual himself.
The Holy Spirit is like the soul in a living human body. The Holy Spirit is the source of life and unity. As a community of believers in Christ, the Church is where we come to know the Holy Spirit. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, the Spirit is present in the books of the Old and New Testaments; in the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church; in sacramental and liturgical prayer; in the charisms and offices of the Church; in the signs of apostolic and missionary life; and in the witness of the saints (cf. CCC 688).
The Paraclete was sent into our hearts, that we might receive new life as children of God. According to St. Paul: “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). At another place Saint Paul tells us that “God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6). Saint Paul is referring to an act of faith. And for every act of faith, we need the participation of the human mind and will as well as the help of God the Holy Spirit. He reminds the Church of everything that Christ taught.
Without the help of the Spirit, we are not able to live as Christians.
The Spirit accompanies us in the Church and helps us to live in the presence of God. The Spirit helps us to listen to His Word, free from anxiety and fear. The Spirit fills our hearts with the peace of Christ, a peace that the world cannot give. As the fruit of his action, the Holy Spirit gives us stronger faith, love, and hope. He purifies our hearts and gives new life. He comes to our hearts, so that like children of God, we can come to know our Father in heaven.
To believe in the Holy Spirit means to pray to Him as to the Father and the Son. Let us ask the Holy Spirit especially today, generously to give us His gifts to animate our spiritual life, to revive our faith, hope and love. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his presence. Let the fruit of His presence be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (cf. Gal 5:22-23). “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” May God bless you. Amen.
Time passes very quickly. The Ascension of the Lord is 40 days after the joyous celebration of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus. During these 40 days, Jesus strengthens the faith of his disciples and fills their hearts with peace and joy. On this day, the Lord issued his last instructions before leaving his disciples. Jesus ascended to heaven, to the Father. For the Father “raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”
At the time of the Ascension, the Apostles did not yet understand who Jesus was and what his mission was. That is why they asked him to restore the Kingdom of Israel. But Jesus said to them in reply: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”
Jesus directs the thinking of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit, whom he will send to instruct them, will help the Apostles understand Jesus’s mission and their role in this mission. He will accompany the Apostles as they travel the world, strengthening them to proclaim the Gospel to every creature. They are to be witnesses to the fact that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” They are to be witnesses that Jesus Christ, who was crucified and buried has risen and is alive. They are to be witnesses that the Lord Jesus “was taken up into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God.”
The Apostles accepted their task. They perfectly fulfilled the missionary command of Jesus. The Good News spread throughout the world; it is preached to every creature. As a community of believers, we are the fruit of this activity, but at the same time we are heirs to the task. We belong to the Church, whose head is Jesus Christ. The Lord addresses these words to us, as he did to the Apostles: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses.” We are to be witnesses of the Messiah who died for us, who was resurrected for us, and by whose grace we can overcome sin and be freed from bondage to Satan. We are to be witnesses of Jesus, in whose name is our salvation.
Jesus ascends to heaven telling us that we are his witnesses. He calls us to witness to Him
and His Gospel. Therefore, in daily life you must be his witness, and you must be a credible witness. You need to confirm by your life, and even by martyrdom like our brothers who are murdered every day by the Islamic State in the Middle East that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered for us, died, rose again on the third day, and in him is the only salvation of man. For “there is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” May God bless us all. Amen.
May 9, 2021 – Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B. Readings:Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 John 4:7-10;John 15: 9-17.
In this Sunday Gospel Jesus says: “I no longer call you slaves. I have called you friends” Who is a friend? A friend is someone close, unique, special. A friend is someone with whom you share joys and sorrows. A friend is one who stands by you when the whole world turns away. A friend is someone who knows all about you and does not stop loving you. Aristotle once said that “true friends are one soul in two bodies.”
A good friend is a great joy and a blessing, and Jesus is the best of friends. He rejects no one and never fails, and you can always rely on him. He said: “No one has greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And it is He, the God-man, the Son of God, who gave his life for each of us. He gave willingly, out of love. “I lay down my life. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.”
Jesus gave his life, died on the Cross, because He is the Good Shepherd who came so that his sheep “might have life and have it more abundantly. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” “God proves his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” How many of you have a friend like that, who would give his life for you?
What kind of friend are you to Jesus? Are you truly a friend to him? Consider for a moment today who Jesus is to you. Can you in good conscience call yourself his friend? Today He is speaking in the silence of your heart: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”
Does it embarrass you to hear God speak to you in this way? Today let him look deeply into the eyes of your soul and do not look away. You belong to him. “For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God. May God bless you. Amen.
My brother and sister in Christ, nothing is impossible for God. Even the strongest opponent can become just as strong proponent by the power of God. In the first reading we hear about Saint Paul’s conversion whose name was Saul. In Saul’s conversion we have validated the statement that sometimes converts are stronger in their faith than cradle Catholics. Each of us is called like Saul to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, come to a deeper conversion, and become a proponent of the truth of the Gospel in spite of the threat of persecution. We are facing subtle persecution today, and we need to be bold in professing our faith.
The second reading makes the connection with today’s Gospel. First of all, what is the great commandment, which should distinguish us as Christians? Love. “By this they will know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.” How do we know if Jesus has made a difference in our lives? Love. John says that our love is to be authentic and visible, in deeds and actions, not just in words.
If we love this way, we remain in Christ and He in us. There is a major difference between with and in. With expresses some relationship with a person. In expresses an intimate union with that person. Belief in Jesus, commitment and love of him and others are essential to this intimate relationship with God.
At the center of this intimate relationship is the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, and is with us. In this way we please God and never alone.
In this Sunday Gospel, Jesus expressed the intimacy He desires with us by the parable of the vine and the branches. The life of the branch is maintained as long as the branch is attached to the vine. It bears fruit as a result of the life flowing in it from the vine. But if it is cut off and separated, it withers and dies. The branches are pruned and trimmed to enable them to grow and bear more fruit. Cutting the branch off the vine destroys it; pruning it strengthens it.
How can we conceive intimacy with God? We can see the effect of human living. We breathe, move, think, feel, etc. Do you see the effects of your life with Christ? We can act humanly, and we can act in Christ. We can choose out of selfishness, or we can choose out of love for Christ. We can live by his word, by loving in deed and in truth, or to live apart from his word. It is the difference between intimacy and separation.
Because of the intimacy and union we can ask God for whatever we want, because we will be asking according to the will of God. As someone has said, the lover desires what the beloved desires. That is the reflection of the depth of real intimacy and union.
What is the fruit that God seeks in us? Love. Love is responded to with love for God and love for others out of love for God. What does this life of love, not in words but in deeds, bring about? Harmony and unity, being one mind and one heart. May God bless you. Amen.
It is already the fourth Sunday of Easter. The Church calls this Sunday, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The liturgy today helps us understand who Jesus Christ is for us, and what his role is. The image of the Good Shepherd helps us understand the mission of Christ. In our culture, there are not many people working as shepherds, so for us, the comparison of Jesus to a good shepherd is not very clear. To understand what makes a good shepherd, it helps to compare a good shepherd with a bad shepherd, or a mercenary.
A mercenary works just for money. He is not really interested in the sheep; they are just a means to earn money. Therefore, a bad shepherd does not really care for the sheep; he does not take any risks for their safety, because he has no bond with them, no love for them. If there is a threat to the sheep, a bad shepherd leaves them alone and vulnerable. Mercenaries can be ruthless and unscrupulous. They promise you anything, but if keeping their promise conflicts with their personal interest, they quickly break their promise.
A good shepherd, on the other hand, knows each sheep in his flock individually,their needs, strengths, and weaknesses. A good shepherd has a caring relationship
with his sheep. He loves his sheep and wants what is good for them. He does not
limit himself to his most basic duties toward the flock, like a mercenary, but wants
to do anything and everything he can for the good of his sheep. And this is love.
So now we can understand the meaning of the name “Good Shepherd” when we
use it to refer to God. Like a good shepherd, God knows his people individually;
he calls each by name. He knows what each person needs. and what will make
them happy. He knows our challenges and weaknesses, and is ready to carry us
through our difficulties. Like a shepherd who cares for his sheep, God guides each
one of us along the path that will lead us to true happiness in this world, and in the
end, to eternal life. And like a good shepherd, if we stray from the path, God will
not rest until he brings us home again.
The Church has dedicated this Forth Sunday of Easter of the Good Shepherd to pray for new vocations to the priesthood. The Bishop in his diocese; the priest in his parish, in the school where he teaches or the hospital where he serves the sick is a shepherd. As a shepherd, he calls the people through God’s Word and feeds and heals them through God’s sacraments. So let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood and for the holiness of our priests, so they can shepherd their flocks on the model of Christ, the Good Shepherd. May God bless us all. Amen.
We have completed two weeks of joyful celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. Perhaps you have already forgotten about the joy that filled our hearts on Easter. However, we see that the joy of the Church still exists, still continues, and is alive in the liturgy. The Resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the faith and mission of the Church community. As Saint Paul wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.”
The Gospel on this third Sunday of Easter shows the disciples gathered together in the Upper Room, with the Risen Jesus, standing among them. The disciples had already heard a lot about recent events. They heard what had been related by the women, who went to the tomb and the testimony of the disciples, who were walking to Emmaus.
They knew about the empty tomb; that some had seen the shroud and the napkin that covered Jesus’s head, and that the beloved disciple “saw and believed” that Christ was alive, and had risen from the dead. However, we see that their encounter with the Risen Jesus created fear and anxiety in the disciples. Those gathered in the Upper Room did not understand what had happened. But Christ understood their hearts well; that’s why he greeted them with the words, ‘Peace be with you.’ He not only greeted them with peace, but bestowed on them the gift of peace.
This gift of peace is the gift of Jesus himself. It is the same gift that Jesus spoke to them about, when they were walking together in Palestine: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” With this gift, the disciples experienced Christ, not as a ghost or spirit, but as He really was, as one who is truly risen. Touching the wounds of the Risen Lord and eating a meal with him strengthened their weak, but joyful faith.
Thanks to this meeting in the Upper Room, the Resurrected Lord helped his disciples to understand that He had fulfilled everything written about him “in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms,” and they were to witness to those things. Thanks to what happened in the Upper Room, in less than two months, St Peter could witness to the Resurrection of Christ and call the crowd of listeners to “repent and be converted, that their sins might be wiped away.” However, we must remember that these events are not merely a historical record.
When we ponder these events in our hearts with full faith, they help us to understand that every Eucharist is a real encounter with Christ, “who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification.” We also hear the words “Peace be with you” directed to us during Mass. Like the disciples in the Upper Room, at Mass we meet the Risen One when we hear his word spoken to us and touch him and are nourished by his Body in the Eucharist. In our relationship with Jesus, we also experience fear and anxiety, confusion and doubt as well as the amazement and joy of the disciples gathered in the Upper Room 2000 years ago.
As we listen to the Word of God today and meditate on the disciples’ meeting with Jesus in the Upper Room, we must remember that although we sincerely desire to follow Christ, we are only human, and we will stumble in our weakness and sinfulness. That’s why this Sunday Gospel is extremely good news for us. The Savior does not leave us alone in our struggle with sin and weakness. Through the Holy Spirit He enlightens our minds, opens our hearts and empowers us to overcome our limitations. He makes clear what is unclear; the impossible becomes possible; what had been our downfall becomes the means of salvation. As He entered the Upper Room in the past, now Jesus enters your heart in the power of the Holy Spirit, saying, “Peace be with you.” May God bless you. Amen.
April 11, 2021 – Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday. Year B.
Readings: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31.
Let’s try to imagine the reaction of the disciples when they saw their Master, hale and healthy. Their Master had been crucified, and his disciples and friends were scattered in fear. And now he was again among them alive and well. Probably no words can describe the surprise and delight of Jesus’s disciples. But his return might also have provoked anxiety and remorse, because his disciples had abandoned Jesus, when their faith was tested.
Jesus appeared to his disciples and greeted them with the words, “Peace to you!” It is as if to say: “I know what troubles your heart; I know what happened; I know about your betrayal, but I already forgave you, so let there be peace in your hearts.” Jesus comes to the disciples not with accusations and reproach, but with a message of peace. Jesus understood the weakness of his disciples and forgave them.
This message of peace is important for us, especially today, on this second Sunday of Easter, when the Church thanks God for his mercy, his forgiving love. God has reminded us of his loving forgiveness many times, but most of all through Saint Faustina Kowalska. It is thanks to Saint Faustina that we know and venerate the image of Divine Mercy. Jesus told St Faustina that he wanted people to venerate the image as a vessel through which they would approach the fountain of his Mercy.
Jesus promised great graces to people who would pray at 3 o’clock, the hour of Mercy. He told St Faustina, “as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others simply by asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world”.
He asked people to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, when God promises complete remission of sins for those who approach his mercy in faith and contrition. I encourage you to read the Diary of Sister Faustina, in which she describes her mystical experiences and the messages she received from Jesus. May God bless you. Amen!
April 4, 2021 – Easter Sunday of our Lord’s Resurrection, Year B. Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Corinthians 5:6b-8; John 20:1-9.
Today is Easter, the most important holy day for Christians. Today we rejoice in the fact that more than two thousand years ago, our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, rose from the tomb. The resurrection of Jesus changed everything, changed man, changed the world. Sin was defeated. Satan has been defeated. Death has been conquered by life.
Once our dear Pope Francis said, “What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons. Most of all, I would like this message to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen; there is hope for you; you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed; mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs!
“We too, like the women who were Jesus’s disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means. What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love God can do this!” Yes, my brothers and sisters, the resurrection of Jesus is not just an event of the past. It is also a real event happening now. Today is the dawn of a new creation. Today, Jesus is our new Adam. As our dear Pope Francis said, “Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God, and He entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.”
He is the first of many sons and daughters, who can call themselves children of God. You and I, too, are among them, because Easter is the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil, to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we living men are his glory.
Our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Ye, now is the time of God’s favor; now is the day of salvation. For everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name. Jesus reigns victorious from the highest heavens. He sends us out to spread his grace to all people, who touch our lives. He wants us to be witnesses of his resurrection in our families and at work, among neighbors and friends, as well as among people who do not like us.
He sends us as his witnesses, and does not call us servants, but friends. The Risen Jesus poured out His Spirit on the whole world. From the resurrection, a flood of grace flows through the world, embracing millions of people, who experience the power of God through repentance for their sins. Our lives, too, are swept up in this flood of grace.
Today, the Church says to us. Recognize the Risen Lord. Awake and follow Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Arise, you who may be disappointed in the gray reality of everyday life. Arise, you who may have lost hope for a better day. Arise, you who do not believe that anything can change in your life. Rise up and fight for your future.
And after the Good Friday in your life, you will know the joy of Easter morning. For Christ is Risen. He has risen for you and me and nothing is the same as it was. May God bless you. Amen.
But it was not evil that had the upper hand. Rather, it was love that was shown in Jesus to be stronger than hatred, light stronger than darkness, and grace stronger than sin. Even though the passion story ends with tragedy and the cry of abandonment, Jesus shows that suffering and death are the necessary part of the Paschal rhythm. It was the great paradox that He had taught throughout his life.
As we gather to begin Holy Week, we are strengthened by the example of Jesus, who never ceased to give himself for the life of others. Sain Paul speaks of the self-emptying journey of Christ from the crib to the cross. In him, we meet God, who abandoned his own security and entered our fragile world; we see God, who made himself poor in order to enrich us. Our Christian discipleship is patterned on the self-emptying journey of Christ.
It is the pattern of self-emptying or the Paschal rhythm of dying and rising that we are called to follow even as a whole Church. Thus, the pain of losing or dying in the wake of the Royal Commission can indeed be a time of grace. If we learn to empty of all those things that
are contrary to the Gospel, we can be sure of being filled with the great things God has in store for us moving forward. Let the spirit of self-emptying permeate our lives and the life of the Church.
Our entrance into Holy Week calls us to renew our commitment to be involved in the challenges and struggles of our world. God is involved with the pain and suffering of our world. God is involved in our quest for justice and peace. God calls us to a new vision of life, mercy, and redemption. Christ crucified and risen, the Wisdom of God, manifests the truth that divine justice and renewing power transforms the world. The victory of peace and well-being is won by the awesome power of compassionate love, in and through solidarity with those who suffer.
Palm Sunday galvanizes us to transformative action, for it gives us a glimpse of the victory of love over hatred and life over death. It was God’s unconditional love in Jesus that brought
about the victory over death and darkness because of sin. We are therefore encouraged to work and turn the tide in favor of the least of our brothers and sisters, confident that the Kingdom of God will prevail.
The Suffering Servant shows us the way of disarming hatred with love, evil with goodness, violence with benevolence, indifference with compassion. May we, the followers of the way faithfully and courageously walk with Christ and bring His kingdom to life in our world. May God bless you. Amen.
March 21, 2021 – Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year B. Readings : Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33.
On this fifth Sunday of Lent, let us reflect a little bit about the Gospel. We can try to imagine how surprised people were, when they heard Jesus talking with His Father, and a voice from heaven saying, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ They thought that it was thunder or an angel.
Jesus explained that the voice did not come for His sake, but for the sake of His disciples, maybe to stress the importance of the things that Jesus wanted to say. Jesus talked about a time of judgment on this world, and also about His imminent death. If we try to imagine all these things from the point of view of the listeners, we can understand
how surprised they were..
Hearing about the death of their teacher, their master, their friend, was difficult, and did not sink in. But Jesus prepared them to understand the mystery of His death by giving the example of the grain of wheat: ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.’
Brothers and sisters, these words explain the rule of life: for there to be life, first there has to be mortification. Isn’t that true? It is true of the grain of wheat, and it is true in life. When you choose to marry this person, study here or work there, other choices have to die.
This touches also on the matter of faith: when you plant a seed, you have to believe that it will bear fruit. It’s not like pressing ‘enter’ on your computer: you have to wait for the fruits to develop. Parents understand this rule very well. They have to make many sacrifices for the good of their families, believing that their sacrifices will bear fruit for the good of their children. They have to believe and be patient..
Jesus explained to the people that He, too, would have to die. But His death led to life. And the disciples had to be patient, and had to have faith, that His death would bear fruit. The disciples had to be patient, seeing Jesus dying on the Cross with such great suffering. They had to be patient, seeing him laid in the tomb. For us, it is easier to understand this, because we know what happened after the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the Cross: The Resurrection, the greatest surprise in human history. Brothers and Sisters, there are times in our lives when nothing seems to make sense. Maybe we think that our sacrifices in our families, in our work, in our faith, will not bear fruit.
This Gospel reading shows us the way. Don’t be afraid. Be faithful. Be patient. If you offer your life to God, and accept His guidance, He will surprise you. Jesus will surprise you with a new life, with a peaceful heart, with a joyful life, with a life that only Jesus can give. May God bless you. Amen..
March 12, 2021 –
In this Sunday reading we hear some of the most famous and probably the most beautiful words of the Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus spoke these words during a conversation with Nicodemus at night. Nicodemus was afraid to go to Jesus during the day, afraid that he would be recognized, afraid to show his faith in the light of day, afraid to show publicly that he was meeting with Jesus. He did not want people to know that he, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, was interested in Jesus’s teaching, and that faith and love for the Master of Nazareth was being born in his heart.
In their night-time conversation, the Lord Jesus said to him: “light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light.” Jesus came into the world as light, but Nicodemus was afraid to come out into the light. Nicodemus may have feared a radical change in his life. Nicodemus might have realized that if he stood by Jesus, he would have to be “a light to the world.” Perhaps he was not prepared for such a big change in his life and was afraid of getting a negative reaction from the other Pharisees.
However, Nicodemus peacefully and steadily allowed himself to be enlightened by the light of God. The Word of God grew in him, like a mustard seed. The Word of God transformed and enlightened him. In the story of Nicodemus we see that later he openly defended Jesus. When the Sanhedrin passed judgment on Jesus without a formal trial, Nicodemus strongly protested, saying,“Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?.”
Nicodemus was most courageous at the burial of Jesus. St. John writes that: “Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.” And tradition tells us that Nicodemus was baptized by the Holy Apostles Peter and John. He became one of the first disciples of Jesus and his faith was confirmed when he suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Jews. Nicodemus stepped out into the light. He became a light to the world. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, released him from fear.
The example of Nicodemus shows us that it is never too late to go to Jesus. Sometimes going to the light will cost us a lot, especially if it means confessing our sins and changing our lives. It is easy to go to Jesus under the cover of darkness. I think that’s why it’s becoming more common to have churches open at night with night confession rooms. Going to God in the darkness is already a step in the right direction, which could become the first of many steps that eventually lead us out of the darkness of sin and into the light.
Make a change in your life like Nicodemus did; abandon evil and begin to live as Jesus taught us. Then we will really be children of the Light. That’s how it was for Nicodemus. Step by step, he moved forward until he stood next to Jesus on the Cross at Golgotha, when even the Apostles had abandoned him. Today Nicodemus says to each of us: “Be brave and take another step forward into the light of Christ. You do not have to be burdened with shame over your past sins. Just carry them to Jesus, and he will set you free. He will fill you with joy and peace. Let him show you the freedom that he won for you on the Cross.”
Perhaps for many of us, as for Nicodemus, it will be a long process. However, Lent reminds us that we are to “deny ourselves, and take up our cross daily.” And that means giving up the pursuit of our own benefit and convenience, and embracing the daily rigors and demands of the Christian life. If we are ashamed of Jesus, his teaching and his Cross now, in our times, at home, at school, at university, in the workplace, Jesus will be ashamed of us, when He comes in His glory at the end of time. May God bless you. Amen.
March 7, 2021 – Third Sunday of Lent. Year B. Readings: Exodus 20: 1-17; 1 Corinthians 1: 22-25; John 12: 13-25.
This Sunday Gospel gets our attention immediately. Jesus has just arrived in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. He immediately goes to the temple. When he arrived at the temple, the situation he found there infuriated Him. Yes, there were many people in the temple. However, most of there were not there to pray. There were an astounding number of money changers and also people selling animals for sacrifice!
Jesus absolutely “lost” it. He took a length of cord, made a whip and began driving all these people out of the temple. They were desecrating this beautiful and sacred temple. How dare they? The temple was built and dedicated to be a place for prayer and worship. It was not built to be a market place. Jesus was infuriated. Yet he also was saddened that the people would desecrate such a holy, beautiful and sacred place.
Today may be a day to ask ourselves: what and where are our sacred places? What are the places that are sacred to us? It might be a church, a forest, the mountains, the ocean or simply a swing in our backyard or special chair in our house. We all need sacred places in our lives. These sacred places enable us to experience and open ourselves to God’s presence in the beauty, the silence, the peace be that in nature, the quiet space in your house or a church.
Sacred places and spaces help to ground us in God. And thus, we may experience God’s presence in that place more intensely and more tangibly. A sacred place as well as a sacred activity (such as simply sitting quietly in a chair) also may help us open ourselves more deeply to God’s presence, word, and grace.
Every Sunday, before the Holy Eucharis begins, I invite you to deliberately sit quietly with God for 5, 10, or 30 minutes. We may receive many gifts and deep peace as we quietly and peacefully simply sit with God. God longs for us and God is waiting for us. Will we come?
May God bless you.
February 28, 2021 – Second Sunday of Lent. Year B. Readings: Genesis 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Romans 8:31b-34; Mark 9:2-10.
The wilderness was the geographical and key symbolic focus of last week’s Gospel story. This week, the focus is a mountain. Wilderness and mountain remind us that God’s Earth itself is the locus of mystery and grace, the place of Earth divine encounter. The mountain, like the wilderness, links Mark’s story of Jesus with the story of the Israelites. Moses’ encounter with God on the mountain of Sinai was a defining moment in the life of the people: the Israelites entered into covenant with God at this mountain and received the Law that was to guide their lives as a people. Some centuries later, at a time of crisis in Israel’s life, the prophet Elijah returned to this mountain and experienced the presence of God in the gentle breeze.
In the Gospel passage for this Sunday, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain and is “transfigured” before them and “His clothes become dazzling white”. In the Book of Revelation, white clothes come to symbolize the clothing of martyrs, of those who die for their faith. Elijah and Moses, the key prophetic figures of Israel, appear and enter into dialogue with Jesus, God’s definitive prophet.
The “transfiguration” seems to point to a time in Jesus’ ministry when He accepts His likely fate. If He continues to challenge oppression and injustice, He is certain to encounter opposition, even death. He struggles with that realization in the “wilderness” and comes to terms with what it involves on this unidentified mountain.
The voice of God reaffirms the identity of Jesus that was announced in the opening words of the Gospel and proclaimed at His baptism in the Jordan. It calls for a response from the disciples who have ascended the mountain in His company: “Listen to him”. In the two preceding scenes, Jesus has spoken of the suffering that He and His followers will have to face. These words are crucial to an understanding, not only of Jesus, but of what it means to follow him. They seem to fall on deaf ears.
Peter wants to hold on to the experience of glory, to “make tents” and settle down. He prefers not to face the difficulties involved in fidelity to the mission. But that is not the way of discipleship.
Like Jesus and His companions, we too need the occasional glimpse of final victory. We also need the courage and the good sense to return from the mountain and follow through on the path that brings life, despite the pain. We can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges facing us and by the opposition we sometimes experience. If we are to maintain the struggle for a sustainable, safe, and peace-filled world, we have to “listen” to the invitation of Jesus and come to terms with the personal and communal costs involved in a gospel way of life. May God bless you. Amen.
February 21, 2021 – First Sunday of Lent, Year B Readings: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15
On Ash Wednesday we began Lent, and this Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent. “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert” These are the words that open this Sunday Gospel. These words also introduce us to the period of Lent. What was the desert for, in the life of Jesus? For Christ, time in the desert, was a time to prepare for his public ministry. It was a forty-day period of solitude and prayer.
In the pages of Scripture, we learn that many of the Chosen People had a desert experience. It’s in the desert that God appeared to Moses and called him to the great mission of leading the people of Israel out of slavery. Elijah, the prophet of God, received his call in the desert, in the breeze, in the silence of his heart in prayer. St. Paul was converted in the desert, where he received the revelation of the mystery of Jesus Christ.
At the beginning of Lent the Church takes us with Jesus into the desert. This shows us that imitating Christ is also an experience of being in the desert. Why? Because only the desert experience helps us to understand who we are, and who God is. Who among us can say that they know themselves, their reactions to everything, and can handle everything that comes up in life?
In the desert, people realize that they need the help of God, because the desert is inhospitable to humans. In the desert, people feel unsafe and fearful. They need the help and the support of God. The desert is a place where a person is alone with God, free from the hustle and bustle of the world, able to hear God’s voice.
During this time of Lent, we must listen with special attention to the words of Jesus: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” What kind of conversion is Jesus talking about? The Greek text uses the term “metanoia,” a deep, inner transformation, an on-going process of transformation. So Jesus is not talking about empty penances, but acts of true faith.
The Pharisees excelled in works of penance, but only in order to create a public appearance of being very pious and holy. Jesus wants something else: he wants us to believe in the love of God and humbly accept it. Because love is the only force capable of mobilizing human effort to continually grow into the full measure of human dignity.
So conversion is not a one-time action, but a continual process. We get our strength and our motivation to persevere from faith, which is the knowledge that God loves us and looks after us, that we are safe with him. Our experience in the desert leads us to pray, like Saint Augustine, “Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You.”
Today, penance means setting ourselves free from hurry and noise, drugs, alcohol and hedonism. For us today, the Lenten desert means finding time for peace and silence, so we can focus on prayer and contemplation, even in the midst of our busy lives. Most important, this inner desert means being truly present to other people, our friends. Then the desert will not be about mortifying ourselves, but it will be a joyous rejection of what is not necessary, sharing what we have with the poor, and having a serenely tranquil conscience. May the Holy Spirit help us to experience the beauty of Lent, and so prepare us to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. May God bless you. Amen.
February 14, 2021 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B.
Readings: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45.
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, ‘No disease, not even leprosy, can distort the
human face so much that I cannot recognize in it my brother, sister, and even more, the
suffering of Jesus.’ In this Sunday Gospel, we hear about the disease of leprosy. This disease is terrible, and in the time of Jesus it was incurable. By law lepers were separated from the community, living in isolation. They had to stay away from people and cry out “unclean” if anyone came near. This disease causes not only physical pain, but also mental and spiritual anguish. It terribly humiliates a sick person. To be a leper was to be like the walking dead.
Perhaps all the more, since the leper suffered rejection from loved ones, because of his illness. This Gospel shows us a leper who went to Jesus. He went to Jesus, because Jesus was the only one, who could help him. Jesus was the only one, who could cure him. Jesus was the only one, who could return him to human society. Jesus was the only one, who could return him to life. So the leper fell to his knees and said to Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” The evangelist writes that Jesus, “moved with pity, stretched out his hand and touched him, andsaid to him, ‘I do will it.’”
Jesus touched the leper before he spoke to him. Perhaps for the first time in many years, the disfigured leper felt a human touch. By His touch, Jesus restored his life; by his touch, Jesus told him, “You are a man; you are my brother; you are a child of God.” At this point, the leper might well have cried out with joy in his heart: “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.”
Today, that leper shows us what we should do, where we should turn, and from whom we should seek help. The leper shows us that in our time of need, we should turn to Jesus. He invites us to go to Jesus, because only Jesus has the words of eternal life. We should not be afraid to talk to Jesus, when we are suffering and burdened, about what is difficult for us and what we do not understand. We should not be afraid to approach Him with our leprosy, with all our sins, faults, addictions, and the problems that make our lives difficult.
That is why He came to earth and became one of us, so that we might have life, and have it abundantly.”For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. It was our pain that He bore, our sufferings He endured. He said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” He is our Divine Physician, and He says to us: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
Jesus will never laugh at us, never reject us, never humiliate us. He always has time for us and an open heart. He is always available to us in the sacraments of the Church, which is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. Therefore let us go to Jesus with the same faith and trust that the leper had. Only Jesus can do what seems impossible to us. Let’s allow God’s grace to enter our hearts, so that our hearts are conformed more and more to the heart of Jesus. Today Jesus tenderly touches our hearts and says, “I will.”May God bless you. Amen.
February 7, 2021 – Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B. Readings: Job 7:1-4, 6-7; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39.
We often talk about Jesus, and everybody has an image of Him in their minds. Usually we imagine Him busy, always in motion. We see Him on the road, among crowds of people, teaching, healing, and working miracles. We seldom see Jesus at home with His family. And yet He grew up in a family in Nazareth. He had contact with many families as a child and a young man. He must have stayed in the homes of His relatives, Zechariah and Elizabeth and their son John near Jerusalem, when He made a pilgrimage to the holy city with His parents, Mary, and Joseph.
The Gospels tell us that He often visited the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in Bethany. We know that He was a guest at a wedding in a home in Cana in Galilee. And this Sunday Gospel says that He was in the home of Peter and Andrew in Capernaum. In that house, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. He certainly must have felt at home there, during His frequent visits to Capernaum.
This Gospel shows us something else, however. The evangelist writes that “Rising very early before dawn, Jesus left and went off to a deserted place, where He prayed.” Jesus did not just teach, heal the sick, and free people from evil spirits; and He did not only spend His free time with His closest friends in their homes. Every day He took time to have a private meeting with His Father. Even during the busiest day, He found time for prayer alone, for a personal conversation with His Father. All of the
Gospels record Jesus praying at different times, sometimes even through the night.
We often say, ‘I don’t have time to pray; I hardly ever pray.’ We are busy with duties at home, our jobs and countless responsibilities that fill our days. Our busyness seems to make us think that we are exempt from the need for daily prayer. Then there are those people, who claim that prayer is a waste of time. It is absurd that today we do not have time for Him, who is the Lord of time, from whom we get this time.
Like the crowds in this Sunday Gospel, we are also among those, who are looking for Jesus, who want a more profound union with Our Lord. Therefore let us look to Jesus, who was united in prayer with the Father, and who taught His disciples how to pray. Let us pray daily. Let us find time every day to meet with Our Lord in the silence of our hearts. When we pray, we are more open to God’s guidance, and we see His wonderful effect in our lives. Through prayer, it will be easier for us to know the holy will of God, and to obey it in the lives that we have received from Him. May God bless you. Amen.
January 31, 2021 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28.
Each of us, by virtue of our baptism, participates in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ. However, the Church needs people to fulfill this mission in a special way. Therefore we need priests, religious and consecrated persons, to be a sign to the world. They are a sign of contradiction, because they show the world that our true citizenship is in heaven.
At the root of the vocations crisis is a loss of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, that same Christ who offered himself on the Cross for us. In the history of the Church has sometimes resembled a neglected garden, but it is always being freshly planted and watered. Christ the Lord always calls and sends people to rebuild his Church.
Today, more and more people reject Christ. Prompted by an evil spirit, they ask: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” As Christians, we can not be subject to this great wave of anti-Christian ideology, which has been sweeping the world for centuries. As Christians, we believe and confess that Jesus alone is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
When participating in the Holy Mass, the Eucharist and after having received Holy Communion we must dedicate time to adore the Lord Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. We always have to keep in mind that the Eucharist is the source of life and the beating heart of the Church. All the Church’s activities flow from it and are embraced by it. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council called the Eucharist the source and summit of the Christian life.
May you be both worthy and pleased to remain in Christ, strengthened by the Eucharist, so you may walk in the power of the Holy Spirit among modern men. May you announce by the witness of your life that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Let us remember that not only consecrated persons, but every Christian has to be a sign to the world. Each of us has to witness that we are pilgrims here on earth, bound for our homeland in heaven. May God bless you. Amen.
January 24, 2021 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20.
This Sunday Gospel shows us how Jesus called his first Apostles: Peter and his brother Andrew and the sons of Zebedee: James and John. Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw them, and said: “’Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.” They were the first, and the most privileged of the Apostles. They were the ones, who over the next three years accompanied Jesus almost everywhere.
In Greek, “follow me” also means “be with me; be my companion.” And therein lies conversion. Conversion is not only the result of our own effort and willpower; it is the result of being with Jesus. Conversion is the fruit of entrusting ourselves and our whole lives to Jesus, regardless of the circumstances. Effort and will are necessary to persevere with Jesus, not being afraid of having to give up our own plans, projects and ideas. Only Jesus can make us change, change our way of thinking, and bring us to repentance. “To be converted” means, therefore, that Christ becomes for us all, the center of our lives.
Throughout history, there have been many people, who have experienced a dramatic conversion. This was the case of St. Paul, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Francis, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Edith Stein and many others. Perhaps you have heard of such a conversion in our own times, since you can read about them and hear about them every day in the mass media. Like those others, we too are on the path of conversion. Our hearts are being changed, though perhaps our conversion is not as extraordinary and miraculous as some others. Jesus’ cry, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” is also addressed to us.
We must remember that being a Christian, is not just about reciting prayers, going to
Mass, and trying not to break the commandments. Being a Christian is primarily about
following Christ. To be a Christian is to be a disciple of the Master of Nazareth. To be a
Christian is to have faith in the One who says to us, “You believe in God. Believe also in
We have to believe in Jesus, because only then can we follow his will for us. We have to believe that he alone has the words of eternal life, and that life with Him is the greatest adventure. Such was the belief of Peter, Andrew, James and John. And though their life was not easy, they were happy, and when they faced death, they rejoiced that they could lay down their lives for Him, who called them, when they were mere fishermen on the Sea of Galilee.
Life with Jesus is a glorious adventure. Nothing, absolutely nothing, should hinder us from listening to Jesus and devoting ourselves to Him above all else. Nothing, absolutely nothing, should prevent us from speaking about Jesus to those, who live among us, from “fishing” for His people. The Gospel is the Good News. It is worth believing the Good News and joining with Jesus in proclaiming it to the world. May God bless you. Amen.
January 17, 2021 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, Readings: 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20; John 1:35-42.
A week ago, the liturgical season of Christmas ended. Today’s Gospel brings us to the events that took place thirty years after the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. The evangelist shows us the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, when Jesus chose his first disciples.
The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan. The very presence of the disciples there tells us something about their spiritual life. Like Jesus, they came from Galilee to experience the baptism of John. They were men awaiting the Kingdom of God. They desired to know the Messiah, whose coming had been announced as something immanent. For them, It was enough that John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God. They wanted a personal meeting with the Teacher.
Jesus’ conversation with his two first apostles was very expressive. Jesus invited them to come and see. Thus, the apostles’ adventure began as a gathering of persons who were both open to one another. A direct knowledge of the Teacher began for the disciples. They saw where he lived and began to know him. They would not have to be heralds of an idea, but witnesses of a person. Before being sent to evangelize, they would have to be with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him.
These two disciples of Saint John the Baptist, who immediately followed Jesus, certainly felt honored and chosen. They could be with Jesus in private, away from the crowds. The only thing that mattered was they had been invited to follow the one John the Baptist had pointed out as the Messiah, the Lamb of God. From that moment their lives would never be the same. From that moment their lives changed radically.
Every day, Jesus invites each of us to follow him. He really wants to meet with each of us alone. He wants us to be like those disciples who asked him: Teacher, where are you staying?. Teacher, where can I find you?. Teacher, how can I get to know you?. Teacher, how can I follow you?
Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior is waiting for each of us to say, like Samuel, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” We must open our hearts to hear His voice, a voice full of friendship and love; a voice that will change our lives; a voice that does not allow us to be complacent, while all around us are people, who do not know the Lamb of God.
After meeting Jesus, Andrew’s heart prompted him to go first to his brother Simon Peter
to tell him: “We have found the Messiah.” He knew that in this situation it was not enough
just to tell his brother about it, so he brought Peter for a personal encounter with Jesus.
Each of us has an obligation to meet Jesus personally and confess in our hearts: “I have
found the Messiah.” As Christians, we have to be a witness to Jesus. And only as witnesses
of Jesus, will we help others to meet with the Lord, and awaken in them the desire for a
personal encounter with the Savior. May God bless you. Amen.
January 10, 2021 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Year B. Readings: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; 1 John 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11.
January 10, 2021 – There is a love that is greater than human love, human weakness, human sin, and even greater than death. It is God’s love, given to us in Jesus Christ, His beloved Son. This Sunday Gospel talks about Jesus’s Baptism in the Jordan by St John. John called people to conversion. Crowds of people went out to him to be baptized.
John’s baptism did not forgive sins. It had symbolic meaning. People who were immersed in the water wanted to change their lives. John prophesied that Onemightier than He was coming after him, and he was not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of His sandals.
In this Sunday Gospel, the “mightier one” stood before John and asked for baptism. Jesus’s action had deep meaning. His immersion in the Jordan River signified His immersion in human sin. He wanted to take human sin onto himself, to set people free from their sins. He wanted to give us freedom, peace, and joy. Jesus’s intention was confirmed by His Father with signs from heaven: heaven was opened, the Holy Spirit came down on Jesus like a dove, and a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you nd sin, always keeping our eyes on our heavenly destination.
Think about your current life situation. What are you holding in your heart? What is difficult for you? Do you have a problem that seems impossible I am well pleased.” It seems like the Father wants to tell us, “Give your sins to my Son; let Him carry your sins. If you do this, heaven will be opened for you.”
On today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we thank God for the day of our baptism. On that day, heaven was opened to us, and we became beloved children of God. But baptism is just the beginning of our relationship with our heavenly Father. We have to persevere in our struggle against our human weakness ato solve? Is there a weakness or sin that you struggle with, but it never seems to get better? Do you believe that Jesus is mightier than all of these things?
He really is.
In His humility, Jesus is as immersed in your life and your difficulties as He was in the River Jordan, but not as a critic or a judge. He promised that “A bruised reed He shall not break, and a smoldering wick He shall not quench.” He is immersed in your weakness, your fragility, and He wants to carry your burdens with you. So tell Jesus about your troubles, and believe that nothing is impossible for Him. May God bless you. Amen.
This Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of us will remember that this Solemnity of the Epiphany is related to the Three Wise Men, or the Three Magi or Three Kings, which figurines are always accompanying the Christmas crib, bearing gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense for our Lord Jesus. But then, what is the true meaning and significance of this Epiphany feast?
The word Epiphany came from the Greek word ‘Epiphaneia’, which means the manifestation or appearance, coming from the word ‘Appear’. This feast is also sometimes known as the Theophany, also from the Greek word ‘Theos’ which means God. Thus, this Solemnity of the Epiphany is truly a celebration of the revelation and manifestation of the Lord God, Who made Himself apparent to the whole world through the means of the Three Wise Men or the Three Kings.
In Jesus’s day, thousands of people visited Jerusalem. Some went on business. Others went to listen to the learned rabbis, or to advance their careers at the court of Herod. Most went to the temple to make an offering to God, to pray. Among the crowds were the Wise Men. But they had a different purpose. They were looking for the Savior, the Messiah. They declared their mission at the court of Herod, announcing to him the birth of the New King of all Israel.
But the amazing thing is that no one else in Jerusalem was looking for the Messiah. The chief priests and the scribes told the Wise Men, ‘Go to Bethlehem; you can find him there.’ But they did not go themselves. In that big city, among the hundreds of thousands of people, only the Wise Men genuinely desired to find the Messiah.
This Sunday, as we celebrate the Epiphany, we need to ask: What does this day mean to us? On the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the Church thanks God for the gift of faith, which was and still is confessed by so many people. The three Wise Men from the East were among the first to witness to this gift and to carry it to others.
Like the Wise Men, you come to Church to meet Jesus, our Savior. But many people are indifferent to the newborn Messiah. People are wrapped up in their concerns and do not feel they need God. They do not have a hunger for God. Sometimes, even people who come to church to pray, do so more out of habit than out of a real desire for an encounter with God.
One of the basic conditions of our spiritual life is a desire, a hunger to meet the Savior. Can you say, ‘I need God’? ‘I have a hunger for him’? ‘So I put aside business and the pursuit of
wealth; I put aside worldly wisdom; political debates and pious habits, everything: I need God’? This hunger forces you to search, makes you restless, calls you to prayer, to a personal meeting with the loving God. A happy man is hungry for God.
Often I meet people who say, ‘I believe in God, but I do not go to church. It’s too hard; it takes too much time.’ But a person who has a living faith has a hunger for God, a hunger to meet with him, to speak with him in prayer, and the strength to testify to him, living in friendship with God and with others. May God bless you. Amen.
On this first Sunday after Christmas, the Church commemorates the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The readings this Sunday draw our attention to the theme of family relationships and the problems in families. They also give us advice on how the family should function. The reading from Sirach encourages respect for parents, saying that whoever honors his father atones for sins, and whoever reveres his mother stores up riches. Whoever honors his father will have the joy of children, and his prayers will
The Apostle to the Gentiles also advises families to let the word of Christ dwell deeply with them in their daily life. It is therefore necessary to know the word of God, and use it to admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. When we know the word, we can share it with our loved ones. According to Saint Paul, the head of the family is the husband. This does not imply absolute power; his authority over his wife must be exercised in a spirit of love. He is not to be a dictator, but a loving husband.
According to Saint Paul, children should obey their parents. Sometimes this causes problems. As children get older, they want to make decisions themselves, and their parents do not let them. This leads to conflicts. I think that in such cases, children should follow a simple rule: Whoever owns the house is in charge. If you live in your parents’ house, you follow their rules. When you grow up, you will have your own home, and then you can make the rules.
Saint Paul also has advice for fathers regarding how they raise their children: “Fathers, do not provoke your children.” A father’s actions need to be wise and calm, to show the next generation the best values. Dear brothers and sisters, in the Word of God we have rich teaching about family life. If we could live fully by the advice in Scripture, so many unpleasant family situations could be avoided. Let the Bible be our guide through life. Let it be our treasury from which we continually extract wisdom and an example of how we are to live, so that we can love, and be loved in return. May God bless you. Amen.
This Sunday Gospel presents us with the scene of the Annunciation. Gabriel comes to Mary to present to her a proposal from God. She is to be the Mother of the Son of God, because the fullness of time had come, and the moment for the Son of God to be conceived had arrived. It was a turning-point in history.
The Bible records the angel’s greeting to Mary, words which have been repeated in the daily prayers of Christians for generations: “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you ” (Lk 1:28). We can imagine how all of heaven paused for a moment, holding its breath, waiting for Mary’s response. Will God’s chosen one agree to God’s proposal to be the Mother of God? Mary, full of trouble, perhaps mixed with fear and certainly with surprise and curiosity ponders the words of the angel.
What kind of greeting was this, she wonders, and she asks, How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?. Nevertheless, the one whom God preserved from the stain of original sin has the trust and humility to respond: “Behold, I am the hand-maid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). From that moment, the moment Mary responded with a joyful, “Yes,” she is the Mother of the Son of God, the Incarnate Word. She is the mother of the Redeemer, who came to deliver us from sin, the slavery of death and the snares of the devil. Christ the Lord, who enters into our human world, is not the kind of Messiah that was expected by those who were awaiting him.
The Chosen People expected a triumphant Messiah, but he came in the silence of the night, and in all the simplicity and poverty of human birth. He did not have an enthusiastic welcome; on the contrary, he was born in a humble shepherds’ grotto, because the door of the inn was closed to Him. The most profound mystery is the fact that God took human flesh from the Virgin Mary, and became man. God entered into Mary’s life and appointed her to a unique place in the history of mankind. God has entered into our human destiny. As we contemplate the Annunciation, we need to realize that through this historic event, God entered into the life of each of us. For each of us, Jesus was conceived.
For each of us, the Son of God became man, became our brother. We must remember that, as for Mary, so for us, God has a mission to fulfill. He has a plan for each of us and is waiting for our joyful “Yes!” Though our vocations are certainly not as important as the vocation of the Blessed Mother, God loves each of us, and our lives are very important in his eyes. He takes delight in every one of his children, and He wants to build His kingdom in this world, the Kingdom of truth and life, the Kingdom of holiness and grace, the Kingdom of justice and love, the Kingdom of forgiveness and peace. So we must constantly give God our “Yes” and proclaim the joy that the Lord is near. We must remember that the Christian vocation is to bear Christ, to give Christ to the world, to witness to him with our lives and words, so that He will always be greatly glorified. May God bless you. Amen
In our first reading today, Isaiah busts out in Joy as he experienced the divine presence and hand of God tremendously at work in his life and mission: “The Spirit of the Lord has
been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me to…” This is a song of joy and satisfaction of an empowered person. He recounts what God has done in his life.
This too should be our song today because, we have been filled with the Spirit of God. We are filled in order to be strengthened for the last phase of our journey this Advent. So, in
appreciation for this, we shout for joy to the Lord. This is the great joy that Gaudate Sunday provokes. That is, the joy that our Savior is near.
Our second reading is an explicit exaltation from Paul to us especially on this great and joy-filled Sunday of Advent: “Be happy at all times, pray constantly, and for all things give
thanks to God…” In this brief exaltation, we find a wonderful progression.
First, it is an exaltation to be happy, joyful and cheerful because our journey so far has been so good. Second, it is an exaltation to “Pray constantly,” to be vigilant. Therefore, for Gaudate Sunday to be truly meaningful, it must provoke a great feeling of joy and thankfulness, while still strongly preserving, and keeping us focused on our journey and duty this glorious season of Advent. It is not the end our journey.
Once again, this Sunday Gospel revolves round the prophecy and clarion call of the “Prophet of Prophets,” John the Baptist. The major difference between today’s gospel and that of last week rests simply on the fact that they are accounts from different writers Mark and John. The message remains functionally and ontologically the same. It is still from: “The voice that cries in the wilderness, make a straight way for the Lord.”
Why is this reading and call being repeated this joyful Sunday? It is for the purpose of emphasis. It is to remind us that, though we are given a little time to relax and rejoice today, that the clarion call is still there: “Make a straight way for the Lord.” In order words, our preparation continues. So, it is a way of keeping us alert so that we do not lose focus of where we are actually going to: “It is NOT Christmas yet!” The joy of this Sunday foreshadows the fullness of joy that Christmas brings.
Finally, as we rejoice today, let us say a loud amen to the prayer of Paul: “May the God of Peace make you perfect and holy, and may you all be kept safe and blameless…for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…God has called you and he will not fail you.” Surely, He will not fail us until we have received Christ, the fullness of our joy and salvation. Surely, he will not fail us because: “All His promises are yes, and amen (2 Cor 1, 20).
May God bless you. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ. On this second Sunday of Advent the Gospel shows us the figure of St. John the Baptist, and his voice in the desert is still current. He still calls us, crying out, “Repent. Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” What is a call to repentance? It is, in fact, a call to fall in love with God again. When the human heart is filled with love, life becomes more beautiful, more joyful and takes on a new dynamism.
Saints have called people in the past, and they call us still today, to love God, who is Love. Because only God, who is Love, is able to give us back our lost freedom, give us a sense of wealth in poverty, to liberate us from all the fears that plague us. Only Jesus can make our lives meaningful, happy, beautiful, and full of peace.
At the beginning of Advent, we need to take to heart the call to conversion and allow Christ to come into our lives with His healing power. First, however, we should prepare the way for Jesus, straighten the path of our lives for Him. To straighten our path means to abandon the road of sin, to give up a life of compromise and live the Gospel radically.
It also means to exchange unworthy, sinful relationships, for pure and beautiful love. To prepare the way for Jesus is to replace unfair profits with fair and honest work. To straighten the path for Jesus is also a desire to be free from the bad habits; to keep the Lord’s Day holy, and to avoid gossip. Preparing the way of Jesus in our lives means being filled with a desire for freedom, holiness and truth.
So let us now join our voices to “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Only in this way we will prepare the way for the coming of God. Only through our faithfulness and courage in proclaiming the truth of God’s Word, through the testimony of a Christian life, we can make the crooked path straight, and the rough, smooth so that all flesh may see the salvation of God. May God bless you.
Once again in our lives we begin Advent. In Latin, “adventus” means “coming”. Advent is the time of joyful expectation of the coming of Our Lord. First, in Advent we remember the time, when the chosen nation awaited the birth of the Messiah, the Redeemer, whose coming was first announced by God in Paradise.
For centuries, God confirmed his promise through the prophets of Israel. For God is a loving Father who wants our good, as we heard in the first reading: “O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands” (Is 64:7).
Second, Advent is the time, when we are waiting for Christmas; when we remember the coming into the world of the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary “when the fullness of time had come” (Gal 4:4). We commemorate this historical fact every year, and we rejoice that more than 2000 years ago Jesus Christ was
born in Bethlehem, and that He is with his people until the end of the world.
Third, we recall that one day our Lord will come once again to this world, what we call the end of the world. St. Paul speaks to us about this in the second reading: “you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8).
So Advent is a time for us to worship Christ, who is continually entering into our world and our lives, from his first coming in the silent night in Bethlehem to his glorious coming at the end of time. Advent reminds us that Jesus came; Jesus will come again; Jesus is coming. He comes at every moment, here, where we are, in whatever we are doing.
However, we have to ask if we are ready for this meeting: Is my heart watchful? We have to ask if we are vigilant, as this Sunday Gospel calls us to be: “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming” (Mt 13, 35).
May this time of Advent be a time for us to return to God, a time of renewal and change of heart. Let this be a watchful time, a time in which we will take up the fight for good in our lives, for a better tomorrow, with openness to our brothers and sisters. Let this be a time to put off the old way of life; a time of profound prayer, reflection on our lives and return to God in the Sacrament of Confession.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our guide in Advent, to accompany us in this watching. May she obtain for us the grace needed to make this holy season truly a time of joyful expectation. May God bless you. Amen.
This Sunday is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Next week we begin Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas. Therefore, in today’s liturgy, the Church reminds us that Christ
is the King of the universe. She reminds us that there will come a day when Christ will judge all the tribes, all peoples and nations. He will judge each of us. This will be the final day of
His triumph, the triumph of His Kingdom. This is the kingdom we pray for every day when we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”
Christ is King. However, He is very different from the kings and rulers we have around us, but not because He has a golden crown, a costly robe, earthly power, or an army. Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” We can say that this is a strange kind of King. He is a King who washed the feet of his disciples and said: “I did not come to be served but to serve” (Mt
He is a King who was crowned with thorns, mocked with a scarlet cloak and a reed for a scepter. He is a King who was beaten and spat upon. He is a King whose throne of glory was the wood of the Cross at Calvary.
Jesus is a King who does not have His own land, for His Kingdom has no borders. His Kingdom is among us; He is the King of our hearts. He is not the king of a nation, but for 2000 years, billions of people have followed Him like sheep follow their shepherd.
He does not lead an army, but over the centuries, millions of Christians have given their lives for Him, bearing witness
to the truth of His promises, His Kingdom. Today, every five minutes a Christian is murdered, because he made Christ his King. Christ did not write a Constitution; He only preached the
Gospel, the Good News. At the center of His Gospel, He commanded love of God and neighbor:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:37, 39).
For Christ’s power is love. Jesus reigns especially in the hearts of those who need love. He identifies himself with the hungry and thirsty; the stranger and the homeless; the naked, sick and
imprisoned. He came especially to those who would be scorned and despised by earthly rulers. He taught: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners”(Mt 9:12-13).
This is how Jesus exercised his kingly authority. Christ the King wants to show us that His love is stronger than the evil that attacks us on all sides and seeks to destroy us. He overcomes our
misery with his mercy. He is a strange kind of King: because of His love, we follow him; because of His love, we want to love him in return.
Dear Brothers and Sisters. Today, on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we need to think about how we follow Jesus. Is He really our King? Do we really serve
Him? Jesus says: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24).
To follow Jesus, to imitate Him, is to live in love, to put into practice the commandment to love God and neighbor. And when our lives are ruled by love, then we will hear our King say to us: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:34, 40). May God bless you. Amen
On this Sunday Gospel reading, we can understand how generous was this man. He entrusted a great amount of money to his servants. Even though the master gave a different number of talents to his servants, they all had the same opportunity to increase what they were given. So we may be surprised that one of the servants did nothing at all with the talent he was given.
What went wrong in his case? Maybe he did not have the imagination to see the potential hidden in that one talent. Maybe he was just afraid of the responsibility involved in being
given something so valuable. In any case, he buried his talent in the ground. When we hear this parable, in the place of the Master, we think of God.
We are the servants, and in the place of the talents, we have our faith and hope of the heavenly kingdom. Now when we consider the last servant, and his fear, that sounds like our feeling that there is no point in being faithful servants of God, that our faith does not need to grow, develop, or bring about anything new.
And yet the gift of faith is a sort of talent, an evangelical talent: we are meant to increase our faith and enrich others in their faith. Our faith has dynamic power for growth and change,
but it depends on us whether we block that dynamic power, or unleash it, and let it increase.
There is a saying that the Gospel only works in us, when we preach it to others. Or, the only wasted grain is the grain that we keep in our hands. This parable is not about one servant’s lack of self-esteem. It’s not about two servants being clever enough to double their money. It’s a parable about trusting in the dynamic potential of God’s gift of faith. And we can clearly see that the worst thing we can do when it comes to our faith, is to do nothing, just to ‘have’ faith; to keep it to yourself, like an object you possess.
A faith that is buried in the ground is a dead faith. But are we truly open to the idea of multiplying God’s gift in our lives? Do we treat our faith as a valuable talent, that we want to cherish and increase? Or are we like the servant, who hid his talent? We hide our faith, bury it in the ground, when we are reluctant to talk about faith and religion with our friends, colleagues, and relatives.
We hide our faith, bury it in the ground, when we are unwilling to share the joy of our faith, to talk about the amazing things God has done in our lives, the prayers answered, the daily miracles we experience. Our faith is dead and buried if we do not want to get closer to God by reading the Scriptures or good
Catholic books, by listening to Catholic programming online, or by participating in Catholic devotions or Mass during the week, instead of only on Sundays.
As baptized Christians, we are rich in God’s grace. This is much more valuable than any number of material possessions we have. The master in today’s parable gave more responsibility to his good servants, not so much because they doubled his investment. He trusted them with more responsibility, because they showed willingness to make an effort to increase what they had been given. And this is what God asks of us: that we are willing to make an effort to increase in faith, and share it with others, and trust in him to reward our efforts with success. May God bless you. Amen.
In the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, Jesus is warning us to keep watch in our spiritual life. He shows us the importance of awaiting His second coming, but we also must keep alert and awake spiritually for the end of our earthly lives. A lack of spiritual vigilance, not keeping alert in our relationship with God, is a kind of infidelity. Being constantly busy, always rushing from this thing to that, may make us feel like we are accomplishing important things, making the most of our time on earth. But the temptation to rush through life in this way might actually have diabolic origin.
When a person does not have time to stop, reflect about his life, contemplate the world around him, how does he find time to adore Christ? How can he see the presence of God in everyday situations? And how can he focus on the state of his soul, and discern if he is prepared to face God, when every day goes by in a rush of frenzied activity? Do you ever feel that the whole world is telling you that there is no time to lose that you have to step up the pace if you are going to accomplish all the things you should be doing? And then you find yourself exhausted and unable to appreciate, or enjoy the good things you have worked for.
The wise and foolish virgins were both anticipating the same joyous event. But when the moment came, the foolish virgins were not prepared, and had to rush off to the merchants to buy oil. The wise ones were able to wait in peaceful anticipation for the groom’s coming, for the presence of God among them. The difference between them is that the foolish virgins’ lamps ran out of oil. This ‘oil’ in their lamps signifies God’s grace in our lives. Like oil lamps that have to be refilled if they are going to cast light, our souls need to be replenished with God’s grace every day, through prayer and the sacraments.
Hyperactivity in your profession, studies, relationships, hobbies, travels and daily duties, can slowly drain away the
grace and strength that God provides for us; it may simply extinguish the light of God in our souls, without our being
aware that we have lost contact with him. If we stop and ask ourselves, ‘What am I running after? Where am I going?’
we will remember that the goal of our lives is union with God. And the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins teaches us that it is God, who comes to us. We need only to stay awake and alert, to trust in God, that in His wisdom and
love, He will take care of us.
As we heard in the first reading: ‘taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for (wisdom’s) sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care.” The wisdom of God is not the wisdom of the world. In the wisdom of God, it is better to take time to reflect on your life than to fall into workaholism. In the wisdom of God, it is better to fail an exam than to miss a meeting with Christ in the Eucharist. And it is certainly wiser to spend some time in prayer, asking God to direct our lives, than to go about aimlessly wasting our time on things that do not last.
One thing is certain: at the end of this life, we WILL stand face-to-face with God. Do we really want to hear Him say, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you’? Perhaps for you, coming to Mass today was just like any other day, full of stress and rush and hurry to get to Mass, pray, and then get back to all the things you have to do this weekend. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is saying to you, ‘Peace.
Be calm. There is no need to rush. Just stay awake, for you do not
know either the day, or the hour when I will come to you.’
Worldly wisdom constantly reminds us that if we do not keep busy, we will lose everything we have worked for in this life. But the wisdom of God shows His loving care for us: “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all the things you need will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mt 6:33-34).
The Bridegroom is coming to you; to me. Be at peace; keep watch, and be alert for the moment, when He welcomes you into His presence. May God bless you. Amen.
Tomorrow, on All Souls’ Day, we shall pray for those who have died and are in need of purification. For most of us, there is a question about what it means to be a saint. It is a good question
because often we think only of the extraordinary saints who have been proclaimed saints by the Church.
We have to be honest and say that we do not know how all of this works, but we know one thing: God loves us and invites each one of us to be a saint. All we have to do is try to be faithful to God’s will in our lives and live with God’s love. Of course, we will fail in these attempts, but we can always get up and try again. It is this loving God of ours, who can accomplish this transformation in us, but only if we keep trying to be faithful and loving.
Our joy today is about having this inner longing to be like the saints, not in some unreal way but in our desire to know and to serve the living God. Each of us has his or her own way to
holiness, because God created each one of us as a special gift of divine love. Part of living is to discover this individual and unique gift of God’s love in our life. Again, the only way to do this is to try to be faithful and loving.
The first reading, from the Book of Revelation, tells us about the uncountable numbers of saints. God chooses us, and we must respond: salvation comes from our God. Always the initiative of grace comes from this God, who loves us and invites us to share His life. If we are pure of heart, it is because we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. Jesus dies for us and His blood, his love for us, washes us clean if we will only accept Him. The second reading, from the First Letter of Saint John, tells us that we are God’s children now. We do not know how it will be in the Kingdom that will come, but now we are God’s children.
God is not setting out to trip us up and make impossible condi ions for the Kingdom of Heaven. Rather God is telling us that the road to heaven is doing His will and letting go of our own. We will suffer, this is always a condition of the Kingdom. We suffer because we must let go of all that we might prefer to God’s will. Most of us get caught up in pleasures of one type or the other; we get caught up in judging others; we find ourselves attached to what we want to do rather than to seeking God’s will. We suffer when we begin to choose what God wants.
When we love someone or something, we are quite willing to suffer for a cause or for a person. As we come deeper into the love of God, we are more willing to suffer everything, so that we can live in that Divine Presence more and more. The canonized saints teach us this but the example of all those who seek God in humility and in the everyday awareness of their failures also speaks eloquently of the love of God, growing through suffering. May the saints in heaven intercede for us today that we may walk in their paths and choose to follow our Lord. May God bless you. Amen.
The first reading from the Book of Exodus this Sunday speaks about the relationship that the Jews should have for foreigners, living in their homeland. The Word of God reminds them that they were foreigners in Egypt, too, and did not always have an easy lot.
However, let’s look at the text a little differently. Do not forget that our citizenship is in heaven. In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul writes: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself” (Phil 3:20-21).
Through Jesus, God has a great love for our souls. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” Beloved in Christ, we are all aliens on this earth. We are all pilgrims through this world.
We all wander into eternity, whether we believe in eternal life or not. That’s why we need to live now as though we have already reached the end of our journey. We need to make our way through this earthly exile in order to make our way to the Father’s house. We have to live with a great longing in our hearts for the love that Jesus has for us.
We can ask how should we live? In this Sunday Gospel, Jesus Himself tells us: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” We need to be open to love.
Because if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. Jesus’s answer raises another question: how do we live this life of love? The Lord Jesus Himself, His life, is the answer to this question.
He not only taught us how to live, but his everyday life showed what true love is. He is Love, who made Himself a sacrifice on the altar of the Cross for all of us. Jesus Christ is the most perfect model of the love of God and neighbor.
In Jesus’s day, the tax imposed by Caesar was a symbol of political oppression. By their question, the Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus. If He said Jews should not pay the tax, He would be rebelling against the powerful Romans; but if He said they should pay the tax, Jesus would be seen as a collaborator with the enemy.
God, who created the world and man, respects the natural law that governs the world, and the freedom that He gave to man. He separated divine and human affairs, because they exist on different levels. But that does not mean that the two are
unrelated. It is not possible to separate ‘the things of God’ from ‘the things of man’ because man is a union of the physical and the spiritual. The divine and human intersect in man. We can say that he lives and works in two countries, the natural and
the supernatural in the realm of Caesar and in the Kingdom of God, the Church.
We often hear demands for a radical separation of church and state. It means that you can go to church and be Catholic there, say prayers, and sing songs if you want to. But when you walk out of the church, you must forget about your faith. This is the
world, this is the state, and here we have different laws. There is no room for God; He must be satisfied with what happens inside the church. Sadly, there are believing Catholics, who behave this way.
They are ‘Sunday Catholics,’ but a home, at work, at school, in life, they live as though God does not exist. They do not start and end the day with prayer; they do not practice daily scripture-reading; there are no Christian symbols in their homes. Their lives do not show the action of grace in their honesty, fidelity, and charity.
In fact, at all times and in all places we should respect the law of God; we should respect truth, goodness, and beauty, because all of these reflect the glory of God. Only if our lives are oriented toward God, can we be in the fullest sense oriented
toward our fellow man. If we live our lives with God, we will live our lives to the fullest. If God reigns in our hearts, we will be “a light to the world, and the salt of the earth.”
Once again we come to church; we participate in the Holy Mass. I suppose it is almost always a special event for us. It is for us a joyful meeting with our Lord, full of peace and confidence. We come to church, as our holy mountain, to the place where the Lord of Hosts reigns.
For us, God is Love; He is the One who gives us true life, His salvation. He is the One who invites us to His feast. He is the One who always cares about us as a shepherd cares for his sheep, and so each of us can say, “Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil; for the Lord is at my side.”
In this Sunday Gospel we heard Jesus’s parable of the Wedding Feast. A king prepared a wedding feast for his son. However, the invited guests did not go to the feast. They refused, ignored or despised the invitation. What’s more, some even killed the king’s servants. Therefore, the king severely punished them. It’s a sad, and even shocking story.
It is a parable of those who from the beginning were chosen and called, but were not willing to respond. Surely Jesus is referring to the Chosen People. But on second thought, we can say that this Sunday Gospel refers to the millions of Christians who have forgotten about Jesus, those who have forgotten the Sunday Eucharist; those who put their own affairs or business or entertainment above God.
Today, this Gospel refers to those of our brothers and sisters who have silenced the voice of God in their hearts, in their lives; who live in this world as if God does not exist, and they will never die. In the rest of today’s Gospel, we see that the king ordered his servants to invite to the feast whomever they found on the main roads.
And so “The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in, to meet the guests, he saw a man there, not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here, without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”.
Probably it is difficult for us to understand why the king expelled a man who was not dressed in a wedding garment. Should not the king have taken into account the fact that people invited from the crossroads would not be festively dressed, would not be prepared for a wedding feast?
But Jesus wants to use this harsh image to warn that it is not enough simply to attend the feast, we must be prepared for it. In the Bible, someone’s ‘garment’ very often refers to the person’s virtue, moral goodness, or a good personal trait. Jesus says that the servants invited both the good and the bad.
The bad people who responded to the king’s invitation had time to change their lives and be converted. However, the man who was kicked out, had done nothing to change himself, to be converted. He did not do anything to be worthy to stand before the king at the feast of his son.
Conversion is an important and urgent task for each of us. You cannot put it off for later, in your old age. Conversion is the beginning of true faith, a living relationship with Jesus who redeemed us on the Cross. Our Savior wants us to accept the gift of His salvation, His love.
What’s more, He gives us the grace and power to be open to His gift. Today, each of us can say with Saint Paul: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” So we should want to live our lives in friendship with Jesus, so that in time He can joyfully welcome us into the house of His Father. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” May God bless you. Amen.
In this Sunday Gospel we heard Jesus’s parable of the vineyard and the tenants. In the Bible, the vineyard is a traditional image of God’s relationship with the Chosen People. However, Israel, the Chosen People, breaks off friendship with God, does not keep God’s law or the commandments, and does not want to respond with love to Love.
For a reasonable father would not send his son to people who have shown many times that they are dangerous and ruthless. However, God our Father loved man more than anything.
It is sometimes said that love is blind. And it does seem that God’s love is blind. God will do anything so that even the worst man can be won for Love, for Himself. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” God has infinite patience with man.
God was ready to do anything to win back lost souls, even offering himself as ransom on the Cross. We Christians are people of the New Covenant. And today we have to ask ourselves whether we are better people, if we are faithful to Christ
and his Gospel?
The Kingdom of God that Jesus preached is a gift to man, like the Old Covenant was a gift. We Christians are responsible for this gift. We are custodians of life. Moreover, in the vineyard of our lives, God’s Son, the risen Lord, Christ the Savior is with us. He expects our lives to bear good fruit. Every day we must respond to God’s love with love. Because there will come a day when God will ask for an accounting of our lives. May God bless you. Amen.
The liturgy of the word this Sunday focuses on the choices we make in our lives. God, who is Love, created us in his image and likeness. He placed us in time, so we live our lives step by step and moment by moment. And that means that at every moment,
we can change our course; we can reconsider a decision and make a change. Sometimes we act recklessly or automatically, without thinking carefully about what we are doing.
But real wisdom is not necessarily knowing the best thing
to do before we do it. Wisdom and holiness lie in being honestly critical of our mistakes, and having the humility to correct a wrong choice, reverse a bad decision.
In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel reminds us that our choices have moral weight, what we choose and decide and do matters to God: “if someone turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve
his life.” As long as we live, we can choose to change the way we live. Even if we make a mistake or commit a sin, God is open to our conversion, which means to ‘turn around, to transform.’ We are always free to turn around and transform our lives.
Christ’s parable of the two sons shows us that sometimes our actions are not in accord with our words, but that we can always correct ourselves, when we feel remorse for what we have failed to do, for not acting in good faith toward God, or our neighbor.
Keeping this parable in mind can help us become wiser and wiser in our decisions, as we consistently take responsibility for our words.
Jesus praised tax collectors and prostitutes, because when they heard the Gospel, they had the wisdom to change their minds and amend their lives. They were considered the worst sinners in ancient Jewish culture, but they would enter the kingdom of
God before those who thought that they were already perfectly holy. Do we have the wisdom to imitate their humility? Think about it. May God bless you. Amen.
This Sunday Gospel passage talks about the landowner who went out at dawn to hire day laborers to work in his vineyard. I assume that most of us identify with the upset day laborers. Some people place a high value on fairness. Jesus’ statement may not fit the criteria many people may attribute to their concept of fair play.
However, Jesus challenges us to step beyond our societal norms.
The landowner was a generous man, and he made the choice to pay each of his laborers a full day’s wage, regardless of whether they worked 8 full hours, or only 30 minutes. He was fair to the workers who had worked a full day; he paid them the amount of money that they had agreed upon.
As we know, these workers were jealous, and they grumbled. Are we ever jealous or resentful when someone else receives a gift, acclaim, or praise for an act that we think they neither deserved nor earned?
Jealousy and resentment may not affect the other person; however, it does affect us. It can eat away at us and make us miserable. When we compare ourselves to others, we typically may judge ourselves as above them or below them. Both judgments damage the other person as well as ourselves.
God is the one who will judge in fairness and truth. We do not have the right to judge others, and yet we do it all the time. Most of us have been gifted with abundant blessings. Today may we give thanks for the gifts and graces that we have received, and let us thank God for the many gifts we have been given. May we let go of judgment, envy, and jealousy. If we choose to do this, we will be happier and more peaceful. May God bless you. Amen.
This Sunday Gospel is another challenging Gospel. Peter comes to Jesus and bluntly asks him how many times he needs to forgive another, be that his brother, his sister, friend or co-worker. Peter asks if he should forgive the other person seven
times? I wonder if Peter had a family member, a spouse, or a friend whom he had wounded multiple times. Or was Peter simply asking the question, because he wanted to hear how Jesus would answer it?
As often is the case, Jesus does not answer Peter’s question directly. Rather Jesus bluntly tells Peter that he should forgive the other person, not just seven times, but seventy seven times. That is a lot of forgiveness! It is easier to forgive another
if the hurt or insult is minor. However, when a person has been betrayed or slandered us, we may find it more difficult to forgive the individual. This is understandable because our trust has been betrayed. Was Peter surprised by Jesus’ answer?
Was Peter thinking of a family member or friend that he needed to forgive, or was he remembering someone he had hurt or wounded? Was Peter hoping that, at some point, he would be forgiven?
Hopefully, over time, we will forgive the person who wounded us and, in this process, we will free ourselves also of the heavy burden we have been carrying. Lack of forgiveness usually has more effect on us than on the individual we need to forgive. Resentment and anger poison us. True, it is not easy to let go of
our anger and hurt. If we can place our anger, hurt, and resentment into God’s hands, God will heal us. It may take a long time.
The grace is Jesus does not expect us to deal with these hurts and resentments alone. Jesus walks with us, encourages us, and gives us the grace to let go, and to forgive those, who have hurt us. We have to be patient with this process, and we need to keep coming back to Jesus, and asking him to help us forgive. Jesus wants us to ask him to free us of this burden, this pain.
Who am I to judge? We hear this phrase used often. Scripture tells us that judgement is for God alone. In the letter of St. James we read, “There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Clearly, we are not the lawgiver and the judge. We are not able to save and to destroy. So the natural conclusion from this passage seems to be the same question, “Who am I to judge?” this judgement is reserved to God alone. If we engage in this type of judgment, then we are sinning.
Jesus says in this Sunday Gospel: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.” Brothers and sisters, we cannot tell our brother his fault unless we have judged that he did something wrong.
Jesus Himself says that a man who lusts after a woman is committing adultery with her in his heart, which is evil, which is wrong. When someone knows that their family member is lusting after women, it is a natural, human conclusion to judge that that person is committing an evil.
This type of judgment is not a sin. It is a natural human judgement rooted in the way we think and know. Not only is it not a sin, it’s actually necessary in order to love.
When we see our brother doing something wrong, we are not to judge that we are better than him or that he is going to hell; that judgment is reserved to God alone. We are also not to tell his fault to our friends and family members; that is the sin of detraction, or gossip.
When we see our brother doing something wrong, love–willing his good demands that we tell him the fault privately, so that he will repent, so that he will come back to God, the God who loves him, who gave His whole life for him, who only gives commandments, so that we know how to find true happiness.
Fraternal correction is a hard thing to do, because our culture expects us to follow a, “Who am I to judge?” attitude. It may seem kind not to bring up the fault of our brother, but
it is actually the attitude of Cain, who asked the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” after killing him. Cain didn’t care that his brother was dead, and we have the same attitude when we ask the question, “Who am I to judge?” as an excuse for not loving our brother.
So, who am I to judge? A fellow human being who knows that the greatest joy, peace, and happiness comes from loving God and following his commandments. Who am I to judge? A fellow human being who fears for the eternal death of my brother in hell. Who am I to judge? A fellow human being who loves my brother. Think about it. May God bless you. Amen.
In this Sunday Gospel we have a very peculiar interaction between Jesus and Peter. In the immediately preceding verses Jesus has just declared that Peter is the rock on which he will build his Church. Now he calls him a satan and accuses him of trying to make him trip and fall. What gives? The problem is that Peter is OK with believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, but he cannot handle the thought of Jesus’ death. But this is the course he is on, and so Peter’s opposition to the cross is not helpful indeed, his concern for Jesus’ physical well-being is an obstacle and a temptation.
Earlier the real Satan had tempted Jesus in the desert, and at that time he refused to use his miraculous powers to relieve his hunger, or to impress unbelievers, or take a short-cut to establishing his kingdom. Now Peter tempts him as he begins to face the cross, and here Jesus steps over the trip hazard of Peter’s misplaced concern: he will go to the cross. Every one of us has to face hurdles in this life some of which are harder than others. But it is the trip hazards that are the bigger threat.
Trip hazards catch us unprepared. One moment we are on our feet, the next moment we are flat on the ground, and do not know what happened. Most trip hazards are, in a way, small; that’s why they are so dangerous. Naturally
Peter did not want Jesus to suffer, who could find fault with that? But if that was God’s will, if that was the price of our salvation, then to push for anything else was a trip hazard.
1- In a world so marked by a culture of violence and revenge, we are called to be compassionate and forgiving.
In the Gospel, Jesus continues his teaching on the mountain. He addresses several moral issues. I will concentrate on two: murder and marital relations. On the issue of murder, Jesus calls us to choose to be persons of peace and compassion, or to be persons of violence. We are
told that murder is like an eruption of a volcano that begins with anger in the heart.
That is why it is so important to fight every tendency that results in murder, namely our anger, our hatred, our grudges, our hurts of the past, because they destroy the life of Christ within us. We have to teach our children that there is no room for hatred in the world.
The second issues that Jesus addresses is the new law of marital relations. He calls us to make a choice to live our married relationship in fidelity. When we choose to do that, we live a radical way of life, setting an example for others, and becoming the best version of our married life. That choice starts in the heart by choosing to be the best version of yourself.
Christians become the light of the world through their visible good deeds. But just as light does not draw attention to itself, but to what is in the room, so too a disciple, to be truly light of the world draws attention to the source of the light, Jesus Christ. So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:
Thus in the Eucharist, we offer to the Father a sacrifice of thanksgiving through Christ, mthe King, who by his death, and resurrection enters into an eternal and universal kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, mlove and peace.
Our baptism into the life of Christ was and continues to be a bold statement to the mworld: Jesus is Lord and King of our lives. We dream His dreams. We share His hopes.
We believe that nothing, not even death, can take away the dream of His Kingdom from ,mus. The Solemnity of Christ the King is not just a conclusion of the church year. It takes
us to the beginning: ushering in the King who is, who reigns in our hearts, and who is yet to come, a new Advent. So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings: