October 10, 2021 – Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

…….Reflections from Fr. Andres


October 10, 2021 – Twenty eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B. Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30.

In this Sunday gospel reading we see a meeting between Jesus and a rich young man. The young man asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. He wanted to lead a perfect life according to God’s commandments. Jesus told him, ‘You know the commandments; follow them.’ The young man replied that he had followed the commandments from his youth.

Jesus looked at him with love, and said to him, ‘You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: then, come, follow me.” The young man went away sad, because he had many possessions.

Jesus wanted something more from the young man than following the commandments. He wanted the young man to trust him. It is difficult for a rich person to trust in God, because he tends to trust in his money. If he has enough money, he feels he can solve all his problems on his own.

Of course, we have to work and earn money. Sometimes we will have more; sometimes we will have less. But it’s only money; only paper. Our trust must be somewhere else, not in people, not in our friends, not in our money, but in God. He must be first in our hearts, in our minds. He must be first in our lives. God was, is and always will be our treasure. The things of this world will pass away; they are temporary. God is eternal.

Our aim is eternal life with God. So in this life, it is better to be with God than to have many possessions. Jesus wanted the young man in this Sunday gospel to be with him, to follow him, and He wants the same thing from us. We will know that we trust God, and we are truly with him, when we know that everything we have is from God, and we trust that He will always be with us and always provide for us. May God bless you. Amen.


Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B. Readings: Genesis 2:18-24; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16.

Brother or sister, do you love someone who is not loving you back? Have you experienced God’s supernatural love helping you love those who are difficult to love? For those of you who are married, you expect to be loved by your spouses as much as you need to be loved. And you assume that it’s always going to be mutual: you will always be loved by your spouse with the same passion as you love them.

However, most marriages enter difficulties that require supernatural love as well as supernatural persistence. That’s why we need the Sacrament of Matrimony instead of just a civil ceremony at the courthouse or beach. Marriages need divine grace to endure with the permanence that God provides.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus explains that the law of Moses permitted divorce, because of the hardness of people’s hearts. This is not an approval of divorce. He wants us to have hearts like his own, which never stops loving anyone.

In the days of Moses, when a marriage became difficult or unsatisfying, many men abandoned their wives. Although marriage was, from the beginning supposed to be a permanent covenant that united one man with one woman, a bill of divorce would allow an abandoned or rejected woman to remarry for her protection. It was never intended to be an approval of divorce.

Marriage is a reflection of God’s faithful union with us. Permanence in marriage is a divine gift from God, so that we can reflect him well. If we do not believe in the permanence of love within marriage, how can we believe that God is always in love with us, including when we do not deserve it? And how can the children and others who watch us believe?

Brother and sister, remember, sometimes the lover goes to the Cross for the beloved. The vocation of marriage ordains the spouses to be a reflection of Christ’s passion for all. God never forces us to stay married to him. He loves us even when we turn away from him. Likewise, an unloved spouse is called by God to continue loving the one who abandons the marriage, even if only from afar. This is also true in any God-ordained friendships, and between priests and the laity they serve, and parents with their children.

Brother and sister, have you ever quit a relationship because it was too hard? Did you really stop loving that person? How is the way you handled it like or unlike the heart of Christ? How has God helped you love someone who quit loving you? How did you open yourself to receive his divine help? Describe how this reveals to others what God’s love is really like.

Beloved Lord Jesus: We want to build our marriage on You, the solid rock. Come and reign in it and may we, husband and wife, let You lead us with Your love, remaining together, as You remain in our Father. May God bless you. Amen.


Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Readings: Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48.


This Sunday Gospel, Jesus tells us that if there is anything in your life that is separating you from God, or puts your eternal life in jeopardy, it’s better to lose it, to throw it away. There is nothing wrong with our hands or feet or eyes, they are good. Dear Brothers and Sisters, how often does it happen that we cannot make a change in our lives, even when there is something that brings us nothing but trouble and regret, something that may even separate us from God eternally? And how much of our time and effort do we spend on things that are completely unnecessary for one whose goal is heaven?

Things that are not bad, but which take up so much of our time and attention that we do not notice how little time and effort we are spending on the things that lead to eternal life: prayer, fasting, penitence; growing in faith, hope and love. If we put things in their true perspective, if we see them in light of our eternal salvation, then Jesus’ strong words about losing a hand or foot or an eye are not as extreme as they might seem.

Things like our professional goals, our relationships and hobbies may not be intrinsically evil. But if they lead us away from God, or are leading us into hell, then for us, they are evil and need to be cut out of our lives. Alcohol is an example: it’s not an evil in itself, but for some people, it destroys their professional lives, relationships, their freedom to act and ultimately may lead them to losing God forever.

In this Sunday Gospel, Jesus also issues a warning that is tragically necessary in our times: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Any case of abuse in the community of the Church cries out to heaven for vengeance. Any person who has been wounded or wronged has a right to be heard, and for the injury to be redressed.

In these times, we need to pray for a spirit of penance, for justice, and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church. We need to make sacrifices foregoing some of our innocent pleasures, perhaps, in atonement for the evil acts of the guilty among us. We need to fast in compassion for those who have been harmed. We are all members of the Body of Christ; we are responsible for each other. It is not up to us to investigate allegations of abuse and the tolerance of abuse. But we can pray, fast and make sacrifices for the good of the Church.

We need to pray for the repentance of anyone who has committed grievous faults, as we would pray for mercy for ourselves if we were guilty. The Body of Christ in the Church is battered and suffering because of sin that cries out to heaven. By our prayers, fasting and sacrifices, we can console our wounded Lord, and bring about his mercy and his healing.

May God bless us all. Amen.


September 19, 2021 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.Readings: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20, James 3:16-4:3, Mark 9:30-37.

There is a lot of silence in this Sunday Gospel. Firstly, when Jesus revealed that He would be betrayed into the hands of men and killed, no one dared to ask him what He meant.  Secondly, when the Lord asked his followers, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ they remained silent. Jesus probably knew full well what they were discussing, but as good teacher, He wanted to enter into dialogue. 

The Apostles’ silence reminds me of the behaviour of guilty children. Why? Because they were embarrassed that they had been arguing over who was the greatest. Despite the fact they had lived intimately with Jesus for more than two years, heard all his preaching, and seen his daily example, they still had not discovered what it means to be great in God’s eyes. Are we similar to them? Yes, we are. We want to be appreciated, praised, respected. We secretly dream of personal greatness. We like our relatives’ compliments, the envious glances of our neighbors, nods of recognition from people in the street. 

Jesus knows our hearts. He understands our lack of response. He knows that we often want to be the first, the best. He asks us, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ not to embarrass us, but as an opportunity to show us that each of us is precious in his eyes as his son or daughter. Our limitations and weaknesses help us to discover our childlikeness in relationship to God. Children are absolutely dependent on others; they cannot do anything for others. This kind of childlikeness is hard for us. It’s natural to look for other people’s admiration; to want to be successful in life. But will we find peace and fulfilment in that? 

Jesus tells us where true greatness lies: ‘If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all’. This is the example of Christ himself. He followed a path that was the way of the Cross. In his supreme sacrifice on the Cross, He was as helpless as a child. He looked like He could not do anything; but He was doing everything. 

St. Therese of Lisieux wrote: To remain a child before God means to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God. It is not to become discouraged over our failings, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much.

In this Sunday Gospel Jesus wanted to move his Apostles from one kind of silence toanother. The first silence was their embarrassment at being caught in their pride. But Jesus offers them, and us a deeper more profound silence. In this deeper silence, we rest in God’s arms. Our minds and hearts are no longer filled with the noise of ambition and anxiety. In this silence, we can pray with the psalmist: “LORD, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me. Rather, I have stilled my soul, Like a weaned child to its mother, weaned is my soul” (Ps 131:1-3).

May God bless you. Amen.



September 12, 2021 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B. Readings: Isaiah 50:5-9a; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35.

“Who do people say that I am?” Jesus asked his Apostles. Jesus is asking us the same question today. He is not asking so much about what other people think, but about what you think: Who do you think I am? What am I to you? Brother and Sister, you should ask yourself, who is Christ for you? How much does He mean to you? What does He mean in your life?

These are questions that every man must ask himself. Our whole life depends on how we answer. This question demands that we make up our minds about God. Either I believe and trust in Him, and He is my Lord and Savior; or I do not want to have anything to do with him in my life, and I live without God, religion, and the Church.

It seems that today many people are afraid to ask questions about faith, and their relationship to God. This attitude seems to be more comfortable. You can create your own rules, with no reference to the values that come from faith. Many people who call themselves believers live their faith superficially, being satisfied with doing only the minimum required to practice their faith. But faith is so much richer than that. When human life is permeated with faith, it is expressed in works that are a beautiful testimony to authentic faith. As Saint James tells us, faith without works is dead.

We can see truly living faith in the lives of many saints. We also meet holy saints every day: the mothers and fathers who lay down their lives in service to raising godly children; the people who welcome refugees to a new country; those who nurse the sick, feed the hungry, and teach the faith by the example of holy lives of service, sacrifice, and love. Your presence at every Holy Eucharist is also a beautiful testimony to your faith.

May God, by the Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith, so that our faith will bear fruit in good works, and be a beautiful testimony of our love for God and people. May God bless you. Amen.


August 29, 2021 – 22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time – Readings: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

We come to the church for the Eucharist, to meet with our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One to whom we entrust our lives; He is the one we follow. We believe that He alone has the words of eternal life. “We believe and know that He is the Holy One of God.” We come to hear His word, and to be nourished by His Body, the Eucharist. We believe that we need this food not only for eternal life, but here in this world, in our daily life.

In this Sunday Gospel, we heard a complaint, or a grievance, that the Pharisees directed at Jesus’s disciples. They noted that “some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.” In their scrupulosity, they ask Jesus, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” This question is an indictment of Jesus, that He and His disciples were breaking the tradition of the elders. In response, they hear from the mouth of Christ, that “nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

Today, we can also consider how these words of Jesus refer to the Eucharist. The Eucharist, the most holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine, is a unique food. When we eat normal food, the food becomes part of us. But when we receive the Eucharist, we are transformed into the food we eat, we are transformed into Christ. It is through the Eucharist that we become the Body of Christ. And not just in a spiritual sense, as a community of the Church, but also each of us is conformed to Jesus, when we worthily accept these most holy gifts.

We must also remember that when we are committed to Christ, everything that comes out of us, our words and deeds have the mark of Christ, the mark of His merciful love. But without the Eucharist, without nourishing ourselves with the true Bread from Heaven, we are weak, more exposed to evil spirits, and more likely to fall, when we are tempted. This is because “from within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” Thus, the best way to guard against this danger is to let Christ live in your heart, to be “filled up” with Christ and to be “turned into” Him, thanks to the Eucharist.

This Sunday Gospel should be a warning for all of us, that like the Pharisees and scribes, we often meet Jesus through Mass and the sacraments, but we go on living our own lives, not changing, not repenting. This is why we all need a living relationship with Jesus; we need to cling to him with all our hearts, so we do not hear him say about us, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” The process of being transformed into Christ, being filled with him through the Eucharist, is not easy or immediate, but it is possible. To be a Christian is to have Christ dwelling within you, and then demons cannot approach you. May God bless you. Amen..


September 5, 2021 – Twenty third Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B. Readings: Isaiah 35:4-7a; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37

“Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, He comes to save you.” These words from this Sunday first reading from the Book of Isaiah most fully express the message of this Sunday Liturgy of the Word. It expresses hope in God, the Savior. Amidst the hopelessness and tribulations of exile, Isaiah calls on Israel to look for their salvation only in God: “Here is your God, He comes to save you!”

Isaiah presents God’s salvific work in two ways. First, it is a miraculous healing that will restore human physical health: “the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared; the lame will leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.” There will also be a transformation in the natural world: “streams will burst forth in the desert.” These are symbols of the profound transformation that Christ will bring about in man and in all creation. It will be completed at the end of time, when everything will be perfectly renewed in Him.

The Gospel from this Sunday shows the fulfillment of the messianic promises. Jesus’s miraculous healings caused the people to proclaim, “The deaf hear and the mute speak.” These miracles attest that the prophecies of Isaiah were not empty words. We also heard the words from this Sunday Gospel at our baptism, the beginning of our personal transformation in Christ.

The priest touched our ears and our mouths and prayed that they would be open to hear God’s word, and to proclaim it and to praise God the Father. In this way, we are part of the fulfillment of the messianic promises. Baptism freed us from sin and opened our ears to hear God’s word. It loosed our tongues to confess and praise God.

The second reading is connected with the other readings. It shows us that Christians have to build their lives on the example of God. Day by day, we have to become more perfect in following Christ, who in his work of salvation did not make distinctions among people. If Jesus had any preferences, it was for the humble, the poor and the needy. So brother and sister, let us rejoice in the salvation which we received from Jesus, and let us live with the love which we received from the Lord. May God bless you. Amen.



August 22, 2021 – Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B. Readings: Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69.

When the Lord Jesus taught at the Lake of Gennesaret, He often stayed in Capernaum. It was a fairly large fishing village in which Saint Peter had his own house. Near Peter’s home there was a beautiful synagogue, in which Jesus often taught. To this day we can see the ruins of the synagogue and admire its grandeur. It was in this synagogue where Jesus taught about the Eucharist, in the Bread of Life Discourse, recorded in Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John.

We read the last part of this discourse in this Sunday Gospel. John tells us that “Many of Jesus’s disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life, and no longer accompanied him.” Jesus performed many signs and miracles to conform his words, to show who He is, and to show who sent Him. However, many of his disciples doubted Jesus, when he taught, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”

In His teaching on the Eucharist, Jesus asserted that He is “the living bread which came down from heaven.” This teaching caused many of his disciples to abandon Him, for this teaching requires faith. Only with the eyes of faith can we understand and accept the teachings of Jesus on the Eucharist. In this Sunday Gospel, Jesus turns to the Twelve and asks, “Do you also want to leave?” Jesus was prepared for even his closest followers to abandon Him. However, He did not change His teaching or retract a single word of what He said. Jesus is not a populist.

The truth cannot change; it cannot be adapted to fit new circumstances or manipulated to suit our personal preferences. We can only live the truth and defend the truth, even if we have to pay a great price. Jesus has said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Saint Peter knew that. That is why he said to Jesus: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Today, Jesus is asking each one of us, “Do you also want to leave me?” He expects us to make a decision. We must remember all the good that God has done for us, and we have to understand that only the teaching of Christ leads to the fullness of life. It is easy to make the decision to follow Jesus; but really following him requires fidelity to the full truth of the Gospel.

Anyone who wants to be called a disciple of the Master of Nazareth, must remember that being a disciple is a vocation from God to live the entire, radical truth of the Gospel of Jesus. In this Sunday second reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, we get a lesson about marriage. Saint Paul considered married love in the context of the love of Christ for the Church. This love is beautiful, but also difficult and demanding.

Today many Christians respond to this teaching about marriage the same way Jesus’s followers responded to the teaching about the Eucharist: “It is too difficult. Who can follow this teaching?.” This is why in today’s society, marriage and family are no longer a normal model for human life and development. Individuals
and even entire cultures prefer relationships based on comfort and pleasure. Modern people do not want to attempt marriage, which requires sacrifice, hard work, and dedication.

But only Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life. All other ways of trying to satisfy the longings of the human heart for happiness turn out to be short-sighted, and lead us on a false path. It’s true that Christ’s requirements in regard to marriage are not easy. But Our Lord gives us a high standard, because He respects the dignity of human persons whom He created in His image and likeness. Jesus has high standards for us. But He also gives us grace and comes to our aid, so that we can fulfill our vocations. That is why the Church celebrates the sacraments, such as Holy Matrimony and Holy Communion which we heard about in today’s readings.

The Sacrament of Matrimony enables spouses to fulfill the vocation to marriage. The Eucharist is our daily bread on our path through this world. It strengthens us daily in fidelity to our vocations, and leads us to eternal life. For only by walking with Jesus can we overcome all the difdifficulties of our lives and reach our eternal destiny. Therefore let us affirm that Christ alone has the words of eternal life, and declare with conviction, “Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” May God bless you. Amen.



August 15, 2021 – The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.

Readings: 1 Chronics 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2;1 Corinthians 15:54b-57; Luke 11:27-28.


This Sunday the Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We believe that Mary, the mother of the Son of God, did not die, but she was taken body and soul into heaven, and rejoices in the full glory of the resurrection at the side of her Son. This dogma was solemnly defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

What does the Assumption mean to us, and how are we to understand it? We, who do not understand death, and who fear it; we, for whom life after death is so difficult to imagine, we stand before Christ, who says to us: “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me
will never die.” Christ, in the power of his death and resurrection, has provided that even though we die, we will be resurrected in the flesh, and together with Mary, will praise the Good Lord, enjoying the closeness of family, friends, and people whom we will meet in heaven.

The Assumption of Mary shows us our own destiny: we are not in this world to suffer and die, so that our bodies are degraded forever, and our relationships with loved ones ending with death. No, Mary, who has been assumed into heaven, shows us that our destiny is eternal life with Jesus, with the Holy Mother and all the saints, and all the faithful departed among our loved ones. It is not important for us to completely understand the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. This teaching is given to us for contemplation and celebration.

When we contemplate and celebrate the Assumption of Mary, we praise God, who wanted to take his mother into heaven, body, and soul. Contemplating and celebrating the Assumption of Mary transforms us. It eases our fear of death, both our own death, and the death of our loved ones. Faith in the Assumption of Mary strengthens our conviction that heaven, the state of eternal happiness, is real.


In the Sacred Scriptures we can see that Mary is a simple young Israelite girl, who believed God, when she was told that she was to be the mother of His Son. She went to her cousin Elizabeth, to whom God had given the gift of a child, even though she was advanced in years. For Mary and Elizabeth, pregnancy was not just a biological state, but an event of saving grace. In her hymn of the Magnificat, Mary is full of elation; she praises God and rejoices in Him, because she believes that through her pregnancy, her Son, God, will bring salvation to all men. In His humility, God himself became incarnate in a human body in order to save us.

When we consider the intimate union of Jesus with Mary in the period before His birth, we have to ask, if it is possible that the Risen Christ could will the decomposition of the body of the Mother who bore Him in her womb. Certainly not. Mary’s Assumption, body and soul into heaven, is a participation in the Resurrection of Christ; for Mary it is a return to the communion she had with her Son, when she was blest to bear him in her womb.

Together with Mary, let us adore the Good Lord for the gift of our life and salvation. Let us rejoice in heaven, our ultimate salvation, the culmination of every bit of good we have done on earth. Let us rejoice in heaven, where we will know a closeness with our loved ones that far surpasses the
power of death. May God bless you. Amen.


August 8, 3032 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Readings: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51.

Sunday is the Lord’s day, a holy day, the day when we go to church. Sunday is the day when we celebrate the Eucharist. We participate in an assembly of our brothers and sisters, with whom we journey through this world to the promised land of heaven and eternal happiness in the House of our Father. This Sunday, we listen to the Word of God, which will encourage our hearts, lift up our thoughts, and inspire our actions; the word of God, who is our Father, and who desires our good, our sanctification. He wants us to be like Him, because we were created in His image and likeness.

This Sunday He says to us: ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma’.

We must desire to be imitators of Christ, to follow the path of love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us in sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus not only offered Himself as a sacrifice on the Cross; He also offers Himself to us as the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. Whoever believes in Jesus, and eats His Body and drinks His Blood, has eternal life. Just as ordinary food nourishes us for life in this world, Christ’s Body in the Eucharist nourishes us for eternal life in heaven.

This Sunday we hear from the mouth of Jesus: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.’ Saint Pope John Paul II said that ‘we should desire to witness to these words in our own communities. We should want to tell everyone that the journey of man is a journey to eternal life. In our daily lives, the buildings where we live and work, in all the activities of everyday life, we should openly talk about the sacrament of eternal life in the Body and Blood of Christ.

We should be eager to bear witness to the Covenant, the Eucharist, the sacrament of the covenant of the Body and Blood of Christ, the eternal Covenant. It is a covenant that embraces everyone. The Blood of Christ was poured out for the salvation of all. To those who have forgotten, to those who are indifferent, to those who are hostile, we need to cry out, “How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me?”

Above all the intricacies of history, above the dangers of modern times, above the trials and tribulations of human hearts, minds and consciences, the Church raises up the cup of salvation, the Eucharist. Our desire is to proclaim the Eucharist to the world, as a sign of the eternal covenant that God made with man through the Body and Blood of His Son. His Body was offered in His passion and death. He shared in man’s fate after original sin. His Blood was poured out to seal the New Covenant between God and Man; a Covenant of grace and love, holiness and truth. We are participants in this covenant even more than the people of the Old Covenant. Today we should give testimony to all people that God became man for all people. Christ died for all people, and was raised from the dead. And finally, all people are called to share in the eternal quet in heaven.

Here on earth, God invites everyone: ‘Take, eat…’ ‘take and drink…’ so that we have strength to continue on our journey. How worthy of adoration is our God! Our minds cannot comprehend it, and we are incapable of adoring Him as He deserves. There is no heart in this world that can love God as He loves us. It is amazing that He wants us to approach Him, to love Him and worship Him, in our human capacity, under the appearances of bread and wine.’ May God bless you. Amen.


August 1, 2021 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Readings: Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35.

This Sunday’s responsorial psalm says: The Lord gave them bread from heaven.” These words refer to the journey of the Chosen People of Israel to the Promised Land. The Jews who wandered in the wilderness were plagued by hunger and thirst. That’s why they murmured against Moses: “Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread.”

At the request of Moses, God sent His people manna and quail to eat, which became their daily food on their forty year trek through the desert. This food not only satisfied the Israelites’ hunger, it was a sign of the bread that would be given to the children of the New Covenant.

Immediately after the miraculous multiplication of loaves, Jesus said in the synagogue at Capernaum, “it was not Moses, who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” So the manna foreshadowed the Bread of Life, which is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, giving us His body for food.

The manna was given to the Jews by God, so they could make their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. In a similar way, the Eucharist is the daily bread of all, who are bound for the heavenly homeland. In the Eucharist, Christ is the true bread of life.

Bread is a symbol of life. Jesus is our bread. Only Jesus is our life. This Jesus, the Son of God, is the bread of heaven, which God gives to his people. Do not be afraid; do not hesitate, to satisfy this great desire, this longing for God, for union with Him, who has become for us the food of eternal life. May God bless you. Amen.


July 25, 2021 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Readings:2 Kings 4:42-44; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15.

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.




July 4, 2021 – Happy Independance Day! God Bless America! – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B.
Readings: Ezekiel 2:2-5; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6.

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.


June 20, 2021 – Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
Readings: Job 38:1, 8-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-1; Mark 4:35-41.

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
grain itself.

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.




Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Year B.
Readings: Exodus 24: 3-8; Hebrews 9: 11-15; Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26.

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.



The Ascension of the Lord. Year B.
Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20.

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.


Fifth Sunday of Easter. Year B. – Readings: Acts 9,26-31; John 3,18-24; John 15,1-8.

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.


April 25, 2021 – Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B. – Readings: Acts 4:8-12; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18.

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.


April 18, 2021 – Third Sunday of Easter, Year B. Readings: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48.

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.


March 28, 2020 – Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. Year B. Readings: Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47.

With the celebration of Palm Sunday, we have entered Holy Week and our Lenten journey has reached its culmination. At the heart of Holy Week is the hour that Jesus has spoken about; this is the climax to the life of a humble Messiah, who came to serve, and not to be served; the prophet, who resisted all forms of evil; and the Servant of God, who was totally committed to the divine project. On this day, the forces of evil and darkness seem to have had the upper hand. The cry of Jesus on the cross says it all “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”.

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 –

Fourth Sunday of Lent. Year B. Readings: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21.

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.

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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
me.”

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.



January 3, 2021 – Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Year B
Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12.

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.

 


2020

December 27, 2020 – Sunday within the Octave of Christmas. Year B.  The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:41-52.

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
be heard.

It is interesting that the inspired author promises the blessing of God and the joy of children to one who respects his parents. A person calls down God’s blessing on himself when he honors his parents, and at the same time fulfills one of the Ten Commandments. Doing so gives a good example to your own children, who in the future will delight you with their good character. People who look after their parents in their old age will be cared for by their own children when they become old themselves. The way you treat your own parents is the way your children will treat you.

Sirach also teaches us, “take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not, as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him; revile him not, all the days of his life.” You do not need an extra-ordinary reason to be grateful to your parents and care for them in their old age. It is enough that they gave you life. No one can give a greater gift. Add to that, the hardships of raising children, and it is enough reason, to be grateful to our parents.

In the second reading, St. Paul gives some more useful advice about family life: “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heart-felt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” Saint Paul also tells us, “Be thankful.” Most likely he meant “be grateful to God,” because a grateful person is one step closer to happiness. Gratitude means appreciating what you have. It means rejoicing in everything you have and experience as a gift from the Creator. Gratitude within the family strengthens family bonds, increases goodness and inspires love.

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.

 


December 20, 2020 – Fourth Sunday in Advent. Year B. Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38.

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

 

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December 13, 2020 – Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete “Rejoice” Sunday – Third Sunday of Advent. Year B.  Readings: Isaiah 61, 1-2.10-11; 2 Thessalonians 5, 16-24; John 1, 6-8. 19-28 – The third Sunday of Advent is a Sunday of joy (Gaudete). Having come thus far in our journey, the Church says to us as the prophet Nehemiah said to the Israelites: “Go and enjoy…Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh 8, 10). However, after today, we must continue our journey with a new zeal and expectation.

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.

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December 6, 2020 – Second Sunday of Advent. Year B. Readings: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8.

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.

A perfect example for each one of us is the life of the Saints. They have made the Gospel the program of their lives and the life of those around them. At the heart of the Gospel is the greatest commandment: the command to love God and neighbor. The entire life of the saints has confirmed that life without love does not make sense, that a lack of love enslaves us.

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.

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November 29, 2020 – First Sunday in Advent. Year B. Readings: Isaiah 63: 16b-17; 19b; 64:2-7; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Gospel: Mark 13:33-37.

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.

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November 27, 2020 – The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Year A.  Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46.

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
20:28)

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

 


November 15, 2020 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. Readings: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30.

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.

 

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November 8, 2020 – Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A.  Readings: Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13.

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.

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November 1, 2020 -Solemnity of All Saints – Year A.  Readings: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; I John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a.

My brother and sister, this year the Solemnity of All Saints takes precedence over the Sunday liturgy. This celebration honors all those who have died and are now with the Lord. Traditionally
we say it honors those who have already been purified and are in the full presence of God’s love.

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.

The implication, of course, is that we shall be so much more than we are now. We shall be like Him. We shall be pure just as He is pure.  The Gospel gives us the beatitudes. These are ways of following the Lord. We do not have to think that we must live each beatitude. Rather, we will know in each situation what we must do if we are living in the Spirit. There is so much to be thankful for.

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.


October 25, 2020 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.
Reading: Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40.

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.

That is why God admonishes them to treat the foreigner as their brother, or their sister. God’s Word calls for love of neighbor, of every man, and especially the poor, the injured, those who are struggling in life. These are probably welcome words for many of us, because we are sojourners in a strange land. We have forsaken our homelands, whether by choice, or by the force of circumstances.

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 the history of the world, no one loved more than He loved. So anyone who wants to experience the fullness of love, can find it only in Christ. Anyone who wants to fulfill the law of love, has to follow the Lord. As Christians we are to be like Jesus, our Master and Lord.  May God bless you. Amen.


October 18, 2020 – Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.   Readings: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b; Matthew 22:15-21.

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. 

However, Jesus recognized their perversity, so He did not take the bait. Instead, He went deeper by appealing to fundamental truths and moral principles that govern all relationship between man, God, and society. These rules are established by God, so no one can change or break them. They are not open to debate; we must only seek to understand
them well.

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.”

Because we can never completely understand man and serve man without Christ, who said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ We do not need to be afraid of Christ. Let us open the doors to Christ in our social, political, and economic systems.  Let us open the doors of our hearts, and our lives to him. May God bless you. Amen.


October 11, 2020 – Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. Reading I: Isaiah 25:6-10A; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14.

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.

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October 4, 2020 – Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. Reading I: Isaiah 5:1-7; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43.

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.

But God does everything to renew these broken ties. Through the prophets, God constantly calls them back to himself. The people did not listen to the voice of the prophets; they mocked them, beat and stoned them. So God decided to send his only Son. We may be surprised at the father’s actions in the parable, sending his son to those wicked tenants in the vineyard.

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.


September 27, 2020 – Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.  Readings: Ezekiel 18:25-28; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32.

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.

Moreover, what we say and do shapes our relationships with our neighbours. We have all known people who talk a lot, but do little, and people who make promises that they never keep. And if we are honest, we have to admit that we have probably
behaved that way ourselves sometimes.

St Paul reminds us that our actions have consequences in the lives of others. He tells us how a person created in the image of God should behave, ‘looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others, having in him the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.’ Taking responsibility for what we say is a sign of maturity as well as the mark of a true Christian.

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.

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September 20, 2020 – Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20C-24,27A; Matthew 20:1-16.

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.


September  13, 2020 – Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. Readings: Sirach 27:30-28:7; Romans 14:7-9; Matthew 18:21-35.

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.

Jesus is with us, and He will answer our prayers. Today may we place all our burdens, our anger, and our pain in Jesus’ hands. This will lighten our loads immensely and will free us also. May God bless you. Amen.


September 6, 2020 – Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. Readings: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20.

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.

Love – willing the good of another. We have to make this judgment before we can tell our brother his fault, before we can try to bring him back to God. Telling our brother his fault in love is sometimes called fraternal correction; it’s also known in the spiritual works of mercy as admonishing the sinner. It’s a very delicate subject, but Jesus gives us the instructions of how to go about it.

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.

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Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.
Readings: Jeremiah 20:7-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16: 21-27.

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.

Naturally none of us wants any of our loved ones to suffer, who can find fault with that? But God’s plan for that loved one may be beyond our capacity to understand. The cross they have to bear may be what saves their soul. The cross is the price of our salvation, Jesus’ cross, of course. But also the crosses that we have to bear.

What is the cross in your life? What hurdles do you face? The cross, when embraced with love and trust that God knows what he is doing, changes us, and through us, can touch the hearts and open the minds of others as well. In this way, it will become salvific for you, and for those who know you. Jesus implies that every person bears a cross, and it is a serious trip hazard to deny it, to pretend that
it is not there.

The issue is what we do with it: that we take it up our cross, that we embrace it, that we learn to love it, confident that this cross, whatever it is, it is part of God’s plan of salvation for us, and for others: “Whoever wishes to come after
me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” May God bless you. Amen.


August 23, 2020 – 21st-Sunday in Ordinary Time – Readings:
Isaiah 22:19-33; Romans 11:33-36;Matthew 16:13-20.

God through the Church invites us to look beyond our weakness and discover the real person God created in us. Our world is full of people who are unable to see beyond their shortcomings and are thus limited and defined by
it. St. Augustine invites us to “dig deep enough in any person, and we will find something divine”

This was the case of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11); whiles the crowd saw only the sinner in her, Jesus saw in her a daughter of God, who deserves love and support. Jesus saw beyond her sinfulness, no condemnation, but a chance to start afresh. And this is the good news that Jesus always gives us, revealing who we really are, that is sinners, and who we can become, that is saints.

Brothers and sisters, in asking who do you say that I am, Jesus invites the disciples to go beyond the ordinary and discover who He truly is, the son of God. It is a decisive question whose answer determines our entire destiny. For
if Jesus is the son of God, then we are obliged to make a choice for Him.

In addressing Peter as a rock, Jesus reminded Peter of how God sees him and the need for Peter to be encouraged by this image of God about him. The story of Peter is our story too; we are not to allow our weaknesses to define us, but we are to see beyond them and discover who we really are, children of God, and be encouraged to reflect this image.

You are not your weaknesses; do not define yourself by your shortcomings. We have to work hard so as to conform to the image God has of us. Do not allow your weaknesses to discourage or make you ashamed. Let it teach you humility and dependence on God.

Finally, even though this Sunday Gospel reading has traditionally being used to reinforce our faith in the primacy of the Pope and the infallibility of his teaching office, let us use it today to strengthen our resolve not to be limited by our weakness, but to be encouraged in our struggle to reflect God’s idea of us. May God bless you. Amen.


August 16, 2020 – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.  Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Romans 11:13-15,29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

This Sunday readings invite us to see God’s mercy and justice as not limited to one particular group with a call on us not to create restrictions for God by putting Him in a pigeonhole. Many a time, we assume that God’s blessings are limited to people of a certain religion, nationality or
culture. We restrict God as to who He can bless and who He cannot.

But the truth we must accept is that God is just and merciful, and his justice and mercy are unlimited. However, it is merited, not picked by the roadside, we activate His mercy and justice by our actions and choices.
God’s mercy is not the sole or exclusive right of any individual or group; it is for all, and each one of us has an equal opportunity if we respond  by attaching ourselves to Him.

Brothers and sisters, mercy to all does not mean God will save everyone, rather that His mercy is available to all those who will respond. You therefore need to work at your salvation with fear and trembling. Again, for Paul, we are all saved by the free grace of God and not because we belong to the right group.

Therefore, according to Pope Francis, it is not our calling to act as judge, rather ambassadors of Jesus who is both the Jewish Messiah and the loving Lord of the whole world. We need to draw a distinction between all can be saved, and all are saved. The story of the Canaanite woman presents us with what to do to be saved; namely, to rise above impatience, prejudice, keep your focus and persevere in your faith journey.

Brothers and sisters remember that since our God is beyond our human limitations, His house is not a place of exclusion, but a place of welcome and prayer for all to seek Him, and not a place of gossip, envy, rivalry, fashion, etc. May God bless you. Amen.

 


August 9, 2020 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. Readings: 1 Kings 19:9A, 11-13A; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33

The lesson from the first reading is not to look for God in the extraordinary, but in the simple. Listen to the silence. It is there that we will hear God when God speaks to us. It is the same peacefulness that the first lines of the psalm repeat today: Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people. Elijah was depressed and it took God’s voice to get him out of it.

Similarly, Paul is depressed as well in the reading from Romans, and he, like Elijah is upset because the Hebrew nation as a whole has not accepted Jesus. He is greatly saddened by that fact since the promise belonged to the Jews first. Paul says he has great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart over that fact. God does not console Paul in his reading.

He is consoled, however, by the fact hat he knows he is telling the truth about Christ, and the Holy Spirit confirms this by giving him a clear conscience in regard to the matter. In the Gospel, this theme is carried out with the apostles being the ones, who were not so much depressed, but frightened. Jesus had gone, like Elijah, to the mountain to pray, to communicate with God.

The Apostles had gone into a boat and were crossing, without Jesus, to the other side of the lake when a storm erupted. In their fear they saw a figure walking toward them on the water, and their fear turned to terror. They really could not believe that it could be Jesus walking on the water even though Jesus spoke to them and told them not to fear. This event marked the moment in Matthew when the divinity of Jesus became clear to the Apostles despite other miracles he had performed. It seemed to solidify their belief that this man was truly the Son of God and worthy of worship.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1 – Let’s look for God in the moments we might not expect him, in the silences, in the faces of others, in the stillness. It is in these moments that God talks to us, inspires us, helps us make decisions, leads us.

2 – Let us look to Jesus, and not be distracted by other things. If we can keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus there is nothing that we cannot do. It is when we are distracted and look away, when we lose faith in ourselves and question God in our lives that we are prone to depression and worry.

Jesus can come to us on the water, and we can follow him, just like the child who, being thrown into the air, trusts that his father will catch him. That kind of faith and trust will give us the ability to hear God, and to follow him no matter where he leads us, knowing that truth and peace will prevail in our lives. And this is the Good News of how we communicate with God, and how we need to focus on Jesus in our lives. May God bless you. Amen.


August 2, 2020 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. Readings: Isaiah 55: 1-3;Romans 8:35, 37-39;
Matthew 14: 13-21.

 

If we remember the Sacred Scriptures, the Israelites in the desert with Moses and the people who chased Jesus looking for more bread, they have a lot in common. They were never satisfied. They always wanted more. They were locked into their own world of self-concern.

No matter how many pieces of bread, it would never be enough. It’s easy to be like the people from the Sacred Scriptures. It is easy, because the values of our culture often lock us into self-centered, and self-absorbed concerns. The values of our culture imprison us with our own agendas. The values of our culture have little, or no sense that the world isn’t about me, but about all of us, who are God’s children.

This is why Jesus in His teachings tells us that the remedy of faith is to work not for that which perishes, but for that which endures to eternal life. And that which endures to eternal life are “the works of God.” And we achieve the works of God, when our faith rests in the Son of God, who loved us so much that He stretched His arms out on the cross and gave of Himself without reservation. To achieve the works of God is to follow Him whose life we share each time we receive the Eucharist.

To achieve the works of God is to become Christ who is the Bread of Life. St. Augustine would often end Holy Mass by saying to his people:

“Be what you eat.” As we receive the Eucharist today may we “be” that loving and caring presence of Christ in our world today. May we be motivated by a joyful gratitude for what we already have, and by a constant concern for the needs and concerns of others. May we attend not only to our own hungers, but to the hungers of those in our world, who suffer with empty stomachs, aching hearts and lonely spirits constantly crying out for help.  May God bless us all. Amen.


July 26, 2020 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. Readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

The picture in this Sunday Gospel shows us the values of the kingdom of God. Salvation and the richness of God’s love are the greatest treasures, but this is a treasure we have to find. It is not difficult. This treasure is hidden in each of us, and our task is to discover it. So is it worth it to ask what is the most important treasure in my life? Certainly in our hearts we have many other precious treasures. But what is the really precious treasure Jesus is asking us about?

First of all, we must look very deeply into our hearts and life. If we reject all that is only temporary, which is valuable only for a short time, not a long time, we should find the profound treasure faith, which is not only a beautiful pearl, but the key that unlocks the kingdom of God.

But the discovery of this key is the beginning of our adventure. Finding a good pearl not only gives us happiness, but an awareness that we must open our eyes in a totally different way in this world, because in comparison with this treasure, everything else loses its value. This is why Jesus says today that in our lives, we must choose the correct option. We must decide which side we are on, and when we find this faith, we must be sure which side we should take.

Just as the bread of the Eucharist belongs to Christ and is continually divided as spiritual food, so we too can share what belongs to us, goodness and love, because nothing else is ours. The Eucharistic bread does not just give us physical strength, but spiritual strength. We need to understand that thanks to the Eucharist, we can exceed anything that money can buy.

The people of this Sunday Gospel discovered the truth not in the hustle and bustle of life, when they were busy, but in
the quiet and empty countryside. They understood the need for Jesus. Do we not still need Him today, when we are so disconnected from our natural environment, to help us understand the same thing? Think about it. May God bless you. Amen.


July 19, 2020, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A
Readings: Wisdom 12:13,16-19; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43

The metaphor of the wheat and the weeds left to grow together till harvest is the key to understanding the message Jesus proclaims this Sunday. He proclaims a kingdom of forgiveness, compassion, justice and tolerance. The readings help us to discover our God who is full of mercy and forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we can do especially to an enemy. Yet there are many examples of extraordinary courage in forgiveness.

In the First Reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear that God governs with great lenience.  When we repent of our sins, God always forgives us. Psalm 86 picks up that theme in a beautiful prayer:

“Lord you are good and forgiving”. In Gospel Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, Jesus reveals to us the mystery of the Kingdom, which is compared to a person who planted wheat, and while asleep, some enemies came and sowed weeds. These weeds look very much like wheat as they grow.

What is the kingdom of Heaven that Jesus speaks about? The Kingdom Jesus reveals to us must not be understood as a place up in the sky. Rather this Kingdom is a state of being in which God rules and God’s values prevail. Jesus in many ways lived and taught about these values. In the parable, Jesus powerfully communicates these values, namely forgiveness, compassion, justice, a sense of solidarity, and inclusiveness of all human beings God has created in his image and likeness. That is why the kingdom of heaven is compared to a farmer who sowed good seed and while asleep an enemy sawed weeds.

The image of the farmer leaving both the wheat and the weeds to grow up together till harvest is the key to understanding how God deals with us. Jesus challenges us to be like his Father: patient, lenient and tolerant with sinners, letting the wheat continue to grow among the weeds until the harvest. Who knows, the sinner may be touched by God’s grace and repent? Who knows, between now and harvest time the non-believer might be led to the fullness of the truth in ways known to God alone.

The Kingdom of God therefore is always a mixed bag of those in communion with God, and those who are not; those who have remained faithful and those led astray by the evil one. It is tragic that often times we deal with this ‘mixed-bag’ situation by judging others while justifying ourselves.

Like the farmer in the Gospel, we must leave judgment to God till the end. We must leave all to grow side by side till harvest time. The parable also remindsus that we m ust be as tolerant as our heavenly Father who is always forgiving.

We celebrate God’s mercy by letting God to do the judging at the end of time. So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1-Because the Kingdom of God is a mixed bag of both the good and the bad, we are challenged to be tolerant, compassionate and forgiving like our God;

2- Jesus in the parable warns that we must not take
God’s tolerance as license to do what we want for there are consequences in the end the harvest time.

3- We pray that God may give us the grace of his loving mercy and forgiveness, especially through the Sacrament of reconciliation. May God bless you. Amen.


Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A
Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23

The sower, the seed, the soil, the harvest are the metaphors that help us to capture the central message of this Sunday readings. The readings invite us to reflect on Christ the Sower of God’s Word. The Prophet Isaiah in the First Reading speaks about the effectiveness of God’s Word. Like the rain and snow, which do not return without watering the earth, so too the Word that comes from the mouth of God does not fail. Isaiah’s message in the first reading is a prelude to this Sunday Gospel about the parable of the Sower.

Just as the rain waters the land, showing us how God’s Word brings about the desired results, similarly the parable of the Sower reveals to us the dynamic power of God’s Word. Isaiah’s message contains an important aspect of conversion, so that the Word of God, like the rain may shower upon our hardened hearts making them “fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats.” The First Reading therefore helps to interpret the parable of the Sower in the Gospel.

One interpretation is that many people who hear the Gospel simply never seem to “get it.” The message is stolen from them by the enemy before it takes root. For example, some of our Catholic kids after receiving the Sacraments disappear between age 18 to 35 only to reappear later for marriage. Why is that?

Inadequate faith formation fails to equip them to take the heat and pressure of our secular culture. Then there are some of lifelong, regular church goers, who have values and lifestyle identical to those of their secular neighbors. Their faith has been so neutralized by inadequate faith formation and a focus on worldly preoccupation. Though they look like Catholics, their faith practice is fruitless.

Then there are those who remain faithful, going regularly to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They manage to do some good for some people, but in all produce only a mediocre harvest in life. Finally there are those who yearn to learn more about their faith. They sink their roots in Scripture, Tradition, prayer and the sacraments. These produce an abundant harvest. Jesus wants all of us, not just some to yearn for more, so that we all may produce a bumper crop.

The Gospel message, helps us to understand that despite apparent ineffectiveness of some of the seeds planted, in the end the Church will be successful in its evangelization. In the midst of disappointments, our labor will in the end bear abundant fruit. Despite the obstacles the Church faces in America and elsewhere, mysteriously the Church continues to grow.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings intend to inspire us to look beyond failure even in our own lives, because God’s Word will in the end
bear fruit despite failure; despite obstacles.

2- The readings also challenge us to be effective instruments of God’s Word by nourishing our faith, so that God’s transforming power may work through us and bear fruit even in our weakness.

3- Despite apparent ineffectiveness, our efforts will in the end bear abundant harvest for Christ, because God is in charge. May God bless you. Amen.


July 5, 2020: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A

Readings: Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew11:25-30.

Living not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; living not as debtors of the flesh, but under the yoke of obedience, having a joint account with Jesus. The readings this Sunday help us to understand the value of living by the Spirit of Christ. Saint Paul in the Second Reading shows us the difference between living by the spirit and living by the flesh. The words that can captured our imagination in Paul’s Letter to the Romans are the following:

“Consequently, brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh to live according to the flesh.”

One of the most foolish things we can do is to take a loan from the devil. Some people even try to bargain with the devil. They may only want just some gratification; just a little fun, like trying illicit drugs just once, or some forbidden pleasure just once. The devil however is a clever and cruel banker. Once a person has taken out the smallest loan, the devil demands interest and charges in terms of guilt feelings, sadness, anger, misery and eventually bitterness and despair. When the devil takes us that far, he forecloses our debt and takes over our souls.
Does that sound familiar?

That is why Saint Paul warns us to owe no debt to the flesh, to devil. What exactly does Paul mean when he speaks of the flesh, as opposed to the spirit?

By the word flesh Paul refers to our weak human nature; our human desires that continually pull us down. Because of our human nature, we are either advancing towards God or sliding backwards away from God. The devil being a clever fellow, tries to manipulate our weak human nature. At times the devil gives us a loan we cannot pay back, and then we are stuck; we are trapped; we are enslaved by that debt burden, like some third-world countries, who now seek debt cancellation from the World Bank.

However, for us Christians there is Good News regarding our debt. Thanks be to God, his Son Jesus Christ is capable of paying off our debt burden. God in his Son Jesus Christ has cancelled our debt. The best way to understand how God in Christ cancels our debt is to imagine having a joint account with Jesus, who offers us the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that we are no longer debtors to the flesh, but living by the Spirit. That gift of the Spirit is offered only to the little ones; those who by God’s grace become better versions of themselves.

That state of life comes from the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead. It was out of this innocence and intimate relationship with the Father, that Jesus was able to overcome death and all powers of the flesh. It is in this sense that Jesus in the Gospel invites us saying:

“Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” In other words Jesus invites those burdened by the yoke of the flesh and disobedience to embrace the yoke of the Spirit and obedience to His Word. They will then find relief from their burden and debt.

So this the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings invite us to live by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, so that we may have life in him as his faithful disciples and
stewards;

2- It is only by living in Christ that Christ can cancel our debt burden and lead us to live by his Spirit;

3- We pray for God’s grace that we may live by the Spirit and resist taking any loan from the devil. Think about it.
May God bless you. Amen.


June 28, 2020 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.

Readings: 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16; Romans 6:3-4, 8-11;Matthew 10:37-42.

On this Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the church presents to us through the readings the difficult side of the Christian faith. Faith is defined in the catechism as the supernatural grace of God that enables us to believe without doubt whatever God has revealed. The Christian faith makes us act in a certain way. This certain way distinguishes Christians from the rest of humanity.

The Gospel spells out the certain ways the Christian faith modifies and conditions the Christian life. The rewards attached to these gestures enable and encourage the Christian on the journey of union with God. “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.” These words of Jesus Christ is what defines eternal life, the very goal of the Christian endeavor.

The difficult aspect of the Christian faith is presented in the first reading. The woman of Shunem whose husband is old is promised by the prophet to have her own child in a year’s time. To her utmost surprise, she is not able to accept this based on the natural limits of childbearing. “she has no son and her husband is old.”

We recall a similar situation in the case of Elizabeth and Sarah. Faith has a way of pushing us to limits of nature thereby putting us to the test. Sitting beside a cancer patient or a loved one with a terminal illness is a challenging experience. Prayer becomes difficult when all medical diagnosis point to the end of life. What is God trying to say in this situation?

When faith is pushing us to the edge of natural limits, God is simply saying that he wants to be in control of life. The miracle that comes from this challenging situation points to God as the author of life. He wants to be in control of life. Ours is to live according to his dictates.

This Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm says: “Happy the people who acclaim such a king, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who find their joy every day in your name, who make your justice the source of their bliss.” When God is in control, difficult situations are handled easier. We need to respond to this difficult demand of faith by surrendering to God. May God bless us all. Amen.


June 21,  2020 – Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.
Readings:Jeremiah 20:10-13;Romans 5:12-15;Matthew 10:26-33.

Do not be afraid and fear no one are the phrases that best sum up the central message of this Sunday. Concealed things and darkness tend to scare kids and some adults too. Children are afraid of the dark as it conceals scary things,
and look under their beds at night for the bogeyman. Even for us adults, fear robs us of our freedom to take the right direction, or to be transformed.

We fear the unknown. We are afraid to travel to some foreign countries mainly because we might die there. When we get our doctor’s report that shows signs of cancer, our first emotion is fear. However, we feel better when the doctor reassured us that with treatment, all will be alright. Jesus did exactly that with his disciples.

In the Gospel passage, Jesus gives us such reassurance. He tells us “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid to speak on my behalf and to proclaim the Gospel clearly and in the open. Christ is always beside those who witness to his  name; those who dare to challenge the darkness of this world by speaking out the truth of the Gospel.

These reassuring words are in fact repeated, and in the second time we are told not to be afraid of death nor of being martyred for the sake of Christ. Furthermore, we are assured that if we give witness before the world, Jesus will witness for us before the Father.

In our Christian life and work situations there are moments when we have to bear witness to the Gospel under very difficult conditions; moments when we have to work in the midst of criticism. It is in such moments that we must recall these comforting words. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”. There is only one who must be feared, God, when we choose infidelity and disobedience.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The Gospel gives us the reassurance in the words of Jesus, “Do not be afraid.”

2- In our life and mission there are moments when we have to go the right direction in the face of opposition by others.

3- In moments of threat or persecution, let us be confident that Christ is there to support us. “Do not be afraid.” May God bless you. Amen.

 


Fifth Sunday of Lent – Fifth Sunday of Lent.
Readings: Ezekiel 37: 12-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45

Life and death; hope and despair are the key phrases that sum up the message of this Sunday readings. All three readings this Sunday lead us to meet Jesus, who is not only
the water of life and the light of the world, but also the resurrection and the life.

The prophet Ezekiel in the first reading urges the devastated nation of Israel to look beyond the destruction of Jerusalem to a new future, when God’s Spirit will restore Israel. If you are facing grief or conflict in the family, there is good news for you. The prophet Ezekiel offers hope for those who believe in the God of life. You and I have many times encountered the shattering effects of death in the family.

The Gospel opens with the announcement that Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, is ill. Jesus’ immediate response is that this illness will not result in the death of
Lazarus, but that it will be an occasion for God’s glory to be revealed to all and that the Son may also be glorified. Even though Jesus had a deep love for Lazarus and his sisters,
he remains in the same place for another two days.

By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus is already dead for four days. The dramatic episode of the raising Lazarus to life is a reminder that Jesus is the source of life; he is the resurrection and the life. Just as in any funeral we have attended, there are tears the eyes of Mary and Martha as they tell Jesus, that if he had been there, their brother would not have died.

The whole account is a beautiful catechesis that Jesus offers as the episode develops. On meeting Jesus Martha says: “If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not
have died.” “Your brother will rise to life,” says Jesus. “Yes, I know that he will rise again on the last day,” replies Martha, reflecting on Jewish belief of life after death.

Jesus uses the occasion to lead the two women through a gradual revelation of who he is: “I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”.

The passage is a powerful revelation of who Jesus is from his absolute control over life and death. In other words, Jesus has the power to transform death into life; to bring hope in the midst of despair; and joy out of grief.

 

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The good news is that Jesus is the resurrection and source of life that he promises to anyone who believes
in him.

2- We are led to strengthen our faith in the life after death.

3- Our faith in Christ who transforms death into life has been strengthened in the liturgy. We are sent to share
this good news with others who may be in grief or in despair and care for them. May God bless you. Amen.


Fourth Sunday of Lent. 1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41.


Light and darkness, sight and blindness are the contrasting images the readings of this Sunday.  The central message is that Christ heals our spiritual blindness in our Baptism and makes us witnesses of the truth. The three readings help us to see a sharp contrast between light and darkness;
spiritual sight and spiritual blindness.

In the first reading, Samuel struggles as it were in darkness, trying to find a king, but can only succeed to find the young David, when he begins to see as God sees. In the second reading, Paul reminds us that we were once darkness, but now because of our Baptism we are light in the Lord. We are therefore challenged to be children of the light, for the effects of the light are seen in goodness, in right living and in truth.

The story of the man born blind in the Gospel is not so much about the man being healed, but about seeing as God sees. Here we meet a blind man with sight as compared to  the intellectual Pharisees who are blind. The Gospel reminds us that our Baptism illuminates us to see and embrace God’s vision, life, goodness and truth.

Our Baptism commits us to be bearers of the truth and to confront the spiritual blindness of the world with the truth. The passage clearly contrasts light and darkness, faith and the refusal to accept the truth. The passage leads to a controversy with the Pharisees. Because they are in the darkness of their own prejudice, they refuse to recognize
Jesus as the messiah; they refuse to acknowledge that Jesus has the power to heal the blind man.

The blind man gives Jesus the opportunity to show forth once again his own true divine identity for all to see and believe. In the story, Jesus not only gives the blind man his sight, physical light, but he also gives him the light of faith. When Jesus asks the blind man if he knows the Son
of Man, he says, “Who is he sir that I may believe in him?” Jesus says to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”

The man then says, “I do believe, Lord.” On the other hand, the Pharisees, because of their prejudice, are totally blind to Christ and even attribute his miracle to Satan. The story is not simply about the healing of the man born blind and the Pharisee refusing to accept the power of Christ to perform such a miracle.

Rather, the story is about you and me in moments of our own spiritual blindness and darkness. In the selfishness of our hearts; in our inclinations for pleasure; in our material covetousness,  we become spiritually blind and lose our spiritual sight.  This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1-In baptism, Christ has healed our blindness and given us the light of faith, so that, like the healed blind man, we may proclaim Christ boldly despite the opposition from those still in darkness.

2- Just as the blind man after being healed by Jesus began to witness to Christ, we too are challenged to spread the light of Christ wherever we are, even in times of opposition.

3-Just as in the Gospel story, we must not allow dishonesty
and the distortion of the truth to dim our light, because Christ is our Light. May God bless you. Amen.


March 15, 2020 – Third Sunday of Lent. Year A. Readings: Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2,5-8; John 4:5-42.

Transforming people one at a time is at the heart of God’s plan for the world. The story of the Samaritan woman in the Gospel is a concrete example of how God transforms people one at a time. Lent is a season when we encounter God, who not only thirsts to transform us, but also God who satisfies our spiritual thirst.

This is evident in the Gospel from John which very effectively uses the symbolism of water and thirst, leading us to scrutinize our own spiritual thirst. The Samaritan woman in the Gospel was shocked to discover that Jesus knew about her private life and her brokenness. That led to her own self-scrutiny. When she confessed that she knew the Messiah, Jesus then reveals his true identity to her. “I who am speaking to you… I am he”.

On hearing this, she accepts the water of life that Jesus is of-fering to quench her spiritual thirst. The Samaritan woman in the Gospel becomes aware of her own brokenness; her spiritual thirst and accepts the water of life that Jesus offers to quench her spiritual thirst.

This woman who first came for a jar of water, now leaves the jar at the well, and be-comes a disciple, and a messenger sent to her village, where she tells her people: “Come and see”, come and see the person, who has changed my life. This story was so convincing that the entire village came and saw and invited Jesus who stayed with them for two days.

You and I like the Samaritan woman have come to the well and encountered Jesus, who has told us everything about us. He has offered us life-giving water; he now chal-lenges us to accept his offer and change our lives. The readings invite us to reflect on our lives, and so discover our need for conversion. So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- Like the Samaritan woman, this too is our day to encounter Jesus at the well, leading us through our conver-sion and transformation.

2- We too have discovered our thirst and need for the Water of Life.

3- At the end of this Holy Mass, like the Samaritan woman let’s go out and announce the good news that Jesus whom we have encountered at the well today has trans-formed our lives. May God bless you. Amen.

 


March 8, 2020 – Second Sunday of Lent. Year A. Genesis 12:1-4a. 2 Timothy 1:8-10. Matthew 17:1-9.

 

The transfiguration of Jesus is one of the great mysteries of our faith. We are not entirely sure what happened at that point, but we do know that Jesus changed in front of His disciples in a way that they could sense the power of God flowing through Him. The voice that they hear confirms that this is something from heaven and confirms the role of Jesus and the reality of Jesus as Son of God.

Jesus is the Son and Abram is also a son of God in the first reading, from Genesis. God promises to Abram that he will become a great nation. As with so many promises of God, the reality is greater and feels dif-ferent from what people might have expected.

The second reading, from the Second Letter to Timothy, gives us another insight:

He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus. So often we are tempted to think that we must become holy, but rather it is God who makes us holy. For sure, we must cooperate. That is our work. This brings us back to the Gospel from Matthew. It is almost impossible for us to imagine the effect of the transfiguration on the three Apostles, Peter. James and John.

 

We can say truly that they were out of their minds! But out of their minds and into faith in Jesus. We are invited today to go out of our minds and trust completely in the Lord. Let us walk these days of Lent so that we may share in the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord. Jesus. This is the message we can take form this Sunday readings:

1- We are called like Abraham to leave our country and culture of death; to be radically different from what the world around us expects: to be part of a new culture of life; a new way of life in Christ. But the question before us is: can we with-stand the seductions of today’s culture? Yes, we can. Can we overcome to-day’s subtle persecution and mockery due to our Catholic values and beliefs? Yes, we can.

2- While it is tough being faithful Christians in today’s culture, we can live our faith because God in Christ gives us the strength to be always faithful.

3- We are called to bear our share of the cross through self-discipline and obedience. As ridiculous as that may seem to others, choosing faithfulness brings God’s blessings in the end. May God bless you. Amen.

 


March 1, 2020 -First Sunday of Lent. Year A.  Readings: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11.

The Lenten Season leads us along with Jesus towards Jerusalem and to the Cross. We are called to prepare ourselves for that journey by imitating Jesus, who spends 40 days in the wilderness where he faces temptations. The Lenten journey will be a challenge as we face one temptation after another just like Jesus. In our case these temptations may be around food, drink, alcohol,drugs, lustful thoughts, and by possessions (money).  

The Devil will want us to take short-cuts on our spiritual life or even giving us the excuse for not saying our prayers or fasting. It all starts by skipping prayer or going to church. The Devil too will tempt us to use all 24 hours a day and 7 days a week for ourselves, because we own them. Well, we do not own our time. That is a gift from God.

In the Gospel Jesus faces temptations by the devil three times. He resists, because He not only knows the Scriptures, but He also remains faithful: “Be off Satan! For Scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and

serve him alone”. It is not enough for us to know God’s Word, or his Commandments.

We must be doers of the word. In the first temptation, the devil knows that Jesus is hungry after 40 days of fasting, and so tempts him to turn stones into bread (self-satisfaction with food). Next the devil takes Jesus to the high est point of the Temple and asks him to throw himself down, which would immediately convince the people of Israel that He is truly the Son of God (shortcut to success).

Finally, the devil tempts Jesus with the illusions of power and glory by taking him to a high mountain and showing him all the kingdoms of the world which the devil pretends he owns and will give them to Jesus if he on

ly worships the devil. Jesus overcomes all these temptations one after another because he is focused on his mission. As human beings, temptations are bound to come our way. The three temptations of Jesus remind us that any shortcut without sacrifice does not last.

The temptations call us to the same faithfulness that Jesus had in overcoming his temptations. During this season of Lent, we have opportunities of prayer, almsgiving and fasting to help us. Prayer in particular is a great weapon in moments of temptations. We also need to know the scriptures, and live what they say. That can help us remain focused in following Jesus Christ. This is the message we can take from this first Sunday of Lent:

1- We will be tempted by food, drink and other material desires. What satisfies our hunger is not physical food, but God’s word and every teaching that nourishes our faith.

2- We will be tempted to take shortcuts to achieve success; to give ourselves without sacrifice. The alms and the offertory you give must have an element of sacrifice. The temptation is always to try tip God who owns everything. God cannot be tipped.

3- We will be tempted to embrace the idolatry of power and control, rather than focusing on our baptismal faith journey that has one purpose and mission for which God created us: to be the best version of ourselves by seeking closer relationship with Christ. We do this through the Lenten disciplines of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting.

4) Finally, we will be tempted to use all the 24 hours God gives us daily for ourselves and for some, only the Sunday time at Mass. To give no time to God is very selfish and even very arrogant. God gives you 24 hours a day. That is 1,440 minutes a day.

This Lent commit yourself to giving at least 10 minutes a day to God. If you do not come to daily Mass, consider visiting the church near you on your way to work or after work, and pray for 10 minutes a day. At home, commit another 10 minutes to scripture reading.

I guarantee you will see a change in your life, your work and family life.  May God give us the grace to deepen our baptismal faith journey this Lenten Season. May God bless you. Amen.


February 23, 2020 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Readings: Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48.

This Sunday in the Gospel Jesus continues his Sermon on the Mountain. The Gospel message challenges us to do the impossible by turning the other cheek by loving our enemies, and praying for those, who persecute us. In other words, we are called to use the secret weapon of kindness to disarm the enemy. In the First Reading, the Lord asks Moses to tell the people: “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”

The instruction then goes on to tell the people some practical ways of being holy: avoiding hatred and not
taking revenge.  All that is summed up in the Levitical Law as, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is not just a law, but a relationship that is grounded on God’s love for all without exception. This understanding leads us to imitate our God; it leads us to be holy, just as our God is holy; it leads us to be “kind and merciful” just as “The Lord is kind and merciful,” the response to Psalm 103 used in the readings this Sunday.

Once again like last Sunday in the Gospel Jesus teaches about forgiveness, challenging us further to do the impossible by going beyond the law of love and revenge. In 
world so marked by a culture of violence and revenge, we are called to be compassionate and forgiving. As followers of Christ, we must never revenge. Instead, Jesus tells us,
“When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.”

At the time of Jesus in Palestine, the law forbade anyone in authority from striking anybody with the back of the right hand, or with the left hand. Therefore, if you turned
the other cheek, the enemy would first be surprised and stop to think. That technique of Jesus may be called disarming the enemy, because it is a game changer. It transforms behavior, and defuses a situation that would have otherwise ended up in violence or revenge.

The example of turning the other cheek may seem by world standards to be weakness, or even as taking a risk, but that is what gives us a unique identify when we react to the enemy in a non-violent way rather than violently. That is what is unusual and different from a world culture of violence. Our apparent weakness and cowardice is a powerful witness and leads to holiness. That is why Jesus concludes the Gospel passage with, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

So this the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

 

1- In a world so marked by a culture of violence and revenge, we are called to be compassionate and forgiving.

2- Jesus challenges us further to be transforming agents in this violent world by disarming the enemy, rather than by revenge.

3- Our compassion and apparent weakness before the
enemy is a powerful witness, and leads to holiness. May God bless you. Amen.


February 16, 2020 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Readings: Sirach 15:15-20; I Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37.

Choosing wisely and living by the values of the kingdom are the key phrases that help to focus on the message of this Sunday. The first reading from the Book of Sirach uses the word “choice” three times, and once the phrase “the wisdom of the Lord.” The opening verse of the passage says, “If you choose, you can keep the commandments, they will save you.”

The point seems to be that the wisdom of the Lord calls us to choose life, reminding us that life and death are set before us. The choice therefore is up to us. God gives us both freedom and responsibility. The wise choose life, not death; they choose love, peace and forgiveness, not hate and revenge. Choice is always before us: choosing to relate with others wisely by respecting boundaries.

Saint Paul in the second reading describes
this choice in terms of either human wisdom or God’s wisdom. If we choose God’s wisdom, we become the best version of ourselves; we live by the values of the kingdom. When we choose human wisdom, we end up being foolish and blaming ourselves. We end up by being the worst versions of ourselves.

 

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.

Violence begins within a person who is hurting. To be a person of peace and compassion means being a person of forgiveness. Unless one forgives, anger continues to build up until it erupts. It may  take years or months, but some day it will blow up, burning anyone near that person.

 

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.

They may be very upset with a teacher, a playmate, or a family member, but we must never allow being upset to turn into hatred. If we do that, we destroy ourselves, and our ability to be the best version of ourselves. When we make the choice to forgive, we already live the values of the kingdom.

 

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.

For Jesus, marriage was part of God’s plan, reflecting God’s fidelity to the chosen people. Married relationship is therefore a place of safety, nurture and honor; not a place of violence, dishonesty and destructiveness. By forbidding divorce, Jesus calls for a reconciled relationship between husband and wife, instead of living in a situation of sub-marine warfare.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings challenge us to choose the values of forgiveness, fidelity and honesty at all times;

2- In choosing such values we choose God’s wisdom which, though may appear foolishness, in fact transforms us into
the best version of ourselves.

3- This week, choose to forgive someone who has hurt you, live faithfully and honestly. That is the best version of yourself. You will see the difference in your life; in your family; in the work place. The choice is yours. May God bless you. Amen.


February 9, 2020 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Readings: Isaiah 58:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16.

Salt of the earth and light of the world are the phrases that focus on the central message of this Sunday. In the gospel this Sunday Jesus uses two metaphors in his teaching:

the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We have heard that Gospel before, and it is very easy to miss the deeper meaning of the two metaphors. Let us first look at the example of the salt. Why does Jesus call his disciples salt of the earth?

1- The first obvious reason is that Jesus wants to describe the power of influence his disciples have in the situations they find themselves.

2- the second reason is that historically, salt has always been valuable in human society, much more than it is today.

3- It may be interesting to note that the English word “salary” comes from Latin salarium,”salary”, “stipend”, originally a Roman soldier’s pay which was in salt. The English saying, “worth one’s salt” means that someone is worth his or her wages.

4- The hearers of Jesus understood the expression salt of the earth to represent a valuable commodity.  Thus the followers of Jesus were to have an extremely important role in the world, much comparable to the function of salt. Because of the preservative nature of salt, an covenant sealed with salt in Jewish society was deemed to last forever.

In saying to his disciples “you are the salt of the earth,” Jesus could have used the metaphor to underline a several disciple qualities. One of the best meaning for the metaphor of salt is its preservative quality.

So just as salt is us ed to preserve food from decay and keep it fresh, so too Christians by their life of witness, can make a difference by preserving their situations from moral decay. That preservative quality of salt implies our being mixed with the affairs of this world, in order to change its flavor. We must maintain our saltiness in order to sustain our influence.

The expression light of the world, perhaps comes from Isaiah, who described Israel as “light of the nations.” In calling his disciples “the light of the world” Jesus refers to their radical way of life that must be distinctive and thus become witnesses for the world to see, like a city set on a mountain.

 

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:

1- Just as salt fulfills its function of saltiness by being mixed with food, we too mix with the affairs of daily life and so give the flavor and taste of Christ to such situations.

2- We become the light of the world by our exemplary life of witness that makes others see the possibility of living as Christ teaches.

3- Both salt and light are most effective, when they draw attention, not to themselves, but to something beyond themselves. Similarly, disciples are more effective and faithful when they point to the source of saltiness and light, Jesus Christ. May God bless you. Amen.


Feast of The Presentation of the Lord. Year A. Readings: Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40.

Observing prescriptions, the presentation, sign of contradiction, and a sword of sorrow, are the phrases that help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. Forty days after the Nativity of the Lord on February 2, the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, previously known as the purification of Mary. This feast is therefore only celebrated on Sunday, if it falls on Sunday.

The celebration started first in Rome and in France in the sixth century with solemn blessings, and processions of candles, popularly known as “Candlemas.” The first reading gives an important insight to understand the mystery of the Lord’s Presentation in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, in accordance with the Mosaic Law. The text, taken from the Prophet Malachi says, “I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.”

That messenger comes to purify the hearts of the people in readiness for the Lord. The Gospel passage is the fulfillment of the prophesy in the account of the presen-tation of Jesus in the Temple. This was a celebration of piety: the piety of Mary and Joseph, of Simeon and of Anna. This ritual points to the fact that Jesus is raised in a religious devout family. Five times Luke says that the parents of Jesus observed the ritual prescriptions of the Law.

Here they comply with the religious requirements of purification, and a second ritual for redeeming the first male child. The first ritual purification sprung from the belief that the life-power within blood was sacred and be-longed to God. Because of the mysterious power of blood, all objects, and people coming into contact with human blood had to be ritually purified. Thus birth and death too were surrounded by ritual purification.

The second ritual was a kind of buying back from God every first-born male child. At the end of the Gospel Simeon prophecies Mary’s sufferings which point to the passion of the Lord. Simeon also announces that Christ will be a sign of contradiction, that is those who loose appear foolish, while in those who recognize the power of the cross reveal salvation and life. So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings in-spire us to get to know the precepts of the Church and so observe them;

2- The readings also underline the need for purification in preparation for the Lord’s coming. It is like washing my car to get downtown! Do I wash my car only every 3 years? My soul is more precious than my car.

3- Just as Simeon prophesies that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction, you and I will appear weak and foolish before the world, but in the eyes of faith equipped with the saving power of Christ. May God bless you. Amen.




Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Isaiah 49:3,5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34

Servant of the Lord, Lamb of God and wounded for our sins, are some of the phrases that help us to capture the central point of the readings of this Sunday. The Nativity scene is gone, the lights are down, and the Christmas season is over. Last Sunday, the readings focused on Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist, anointed and commissioned, and sent by the Father on His mission.

This Sunday, we are the very beginning of Jesus’ public minis-try. In both the first reading and the psalm, Jesus is seen as the “Servant of the Lord,” who comes to do God’s will. In the Gospel, John the Baptist points out Jesus to his disciples, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

What does that phrase mean? What exactly did John have in mind when he said “Behold the Lamb of God”? When John the Baptist describes Jesus as “the Lamb of God”, he draws that phrase from an Old Testament tradition of the “lamb of God” symbol-ism. The blood of the paschal lamb of the Old Testament protects and saves the Israelites from the Exodus.

For Saint Paul, Christians are saved by Christ as their true Paschal Lamb of God. Therefore John the Baptist in the Gospel draws our attention to the identity of Jesus and all he would have to undergo in order to save us. The Prophet Isaiah prophesied graphically the fate of the “Suffering Servant” of the Lord.

He was pierced for our offenses; Crushed for our sins; Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole; By his stripes we were healed. The Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. He was harshly treated; He submitted, and never opened his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter, or a sheep before the shearers; He was silent and opened not his mouth.

He was wounded for our sins, bruised for our iniquities. That prophesy of Isaiah was fulfilled in Jesus in his passion and death prophesied in the symbols of bread and wine at the Last Supper. At that event, Jesus took the Jewish Passover ritual sacrifice, and applied it on himself as he shared the Passover meal with his disciples.

They ate the ritual Passover lamb that night, but then Jesus gave the whole event a new meaning by taking bread, blessing, giving thanks and giving it to the disciples, and similarly the wine. As he gave them to his disciples, Jesus said: “This is my body, and this cup is my blood.”

The symbolism of the lamb, the bread, and the wine was later adopted by the church as part of the order for the Eucharist. Further examination of title “Lamb of God” for Christ, leads us to the Book of Revelation, where the victorious apocalyptic lamb would destroy evil in the world. Therefore, when we use the phrase “Lamb of God” at Mass, we reflect on the mystery of Eucharistic Sacrifice of Christ’s death and resurrection for our salvation.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings remind us that we have a far greater obligation to offer thanksgiving to Jesus Christ, who “was wounded for our sins, bruised for our iniquities and died to save us.”

2- The readings invite us to share our faith with others, especially those who may be waiting for someone to lead them to Christ.

3- Just as John’s witness was so convincing that two of his disciples fol-lowed Jesus, we too are called to give such convincing witness, that leads people to Jesus Christ. May God bless you. Amen


The Baptism of the Lord

Readings: Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Matthew 3:13-17

Baptized, anointed and doing good, are some of words and phrases that help us to understand the Solemnity we celebrate this Sunday, the Baptism of the Lord. But immediatelywe face the question of why Jesus had to be baptized since he had no sin. One reason given is that God wanted Jesus to begin his ministry by symbolical ly identifying himself with sinful humanity, in order to save it. Jesus therefore identified with humanity not as a sinner, but as a fellow human being. Jesus knew what it was to be human. At the same time, the divinity of Jesus is manifested through His Baptism by John in the river Jordan.

As Jesus comes out of the water, the heavens open, and the Spirit of God descends up on Jesus, and the Father’s voice affirms who Jesus is: “This is  my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”. The Baptism of Jesus as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew signifies the anointing of Jesus by the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Father’s commissioning of Jesus for his ministry that begins thereafter.

That anointing and commissioning underlines the power of Baptism that we have received. By virtue of our Baptism, we are sent on mission to give witness to Jesus Christ.

Peter in the second reading captures that idea of being sent on mission, in the case of Jesus who gives us an example. After Jesus’ baptism, He “went a

bout doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil”. It was for this purpose that the Father had anointed him with the Holy Spirit, and sent him on his earthly mission. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, the Father appoints Jesus as “a covenant of the people and a light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from dungeon”.

Thus Jesus is the one who fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of bringing salvation to the nations. The dove that descends upon Jesus symbolizes the nature of his mission as an agent of peace and reconciliation in the world.

This Sunday, as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, we are reminded of the power of our Baptism. In the Gospel passage , though John the Baptist tri

es to resist baptizing Jesus, Jesus insists to be baptized. At that Baptism, the Holy Spirit of God descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove. The puzzling question of why Jesus should have to be baptized since he had no sin is an important question. The answer is twofold, and helps us to further understand the power of Baptism.

1- The first reason is that when Jesus is born, He becomes one with us. In His baptism, the Son of God becomes one with us in our sinfulness that is symbolically washed away in the waters of Baptism.

2- The second reason is that like us, Jesus is alienated from the Father, in order to lead us out of that isolation through his death and resurrection back to the Father. Therefore, Christ becomes immersed in our tainted human nature, in order to cleanse us an d to reconcile us with the Father.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday Readings:

1- The Baptism of the Lord celebrates the mystery Baptism as an immersion with Christ, and a rising with Him into new life.

2- Just as Jesus was anointed and sent by the Father to proclaim peace and to heal, we too are anointed and sent to proclaim God’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

3- The secret power of our baptism is found in our union with God that makes us powerful instruments of transforming the world by being agents of God’s peace and reconciliation in the world. May God bless you. Amen.

 

 

The Epiphany of the Lord.
Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

This Sunday we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. The word ‘epiphany’ comes from the Greek language “epiphaneia’ which means ‘appearance’, ‘showing forth’ or ‘manifestation’. So we could say that we celebrate the manifestation of the Lord. The feast of the Epiphany originated in the third century to commemorate the first appearance of Christ as Savior to the entire world. The first reading from Isaiah speaks about light shining through the darkness and the clouds, a wonderful image of describing what epiphany tells us about Jesus Christ, who enlightens our dark minds.

Psalm 72 focuses on the nations coming to adore the Lord. “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you” and then speaks of kings from foreign lands bringing gifts to the Lord. The Psalm in a certain sense introduces the Gospel of today, that recounts the story of the three wise kings from the East, who represent all the nations. These Magi come as seekers of the source of the light. The star is only a guide for them. On finding the source, the infant king, they are overjoyed, they confess, worship him and offer him gifts. In the preface of the Epiphany, we get a sense of the mystery we celebrate.

“Today you revealed in Christ your eternal plan of salvation, and showed him as the light of all peoples”. The mystery of Christ’s birth, the mystery of the Incarnation, is therefore made known to all people all over the world without exception. St. Paul in the second reading speaks about the inclusive nature of salvation in God’s plan.

The central message of the Epiphany is that Jesus is revealed to us as a light to the nations. The Magi go in search of this light guided by a star until they find the source of the light in Bethlehem. Like the Magi, we are led to discover Christ and are therefore called to go out and share with others the Good News revealed to us. Through our daily witness, in loving others, in forgiving them, in our faith and compassion, in our courage and perseverance, may we be like the star that guides them in their journey of faith, to seek and to discover Christ in their lives. That is mystery of the Epiphany of the Lord we celebrate today. It celebrates our discovery of a star that leads us to the source of the light, Jesus Christ.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings: 1 – We are invited today to recognize God’s light, God’s presence in our lives, and to let our hearts rejoice, throb and overflow, because we know that God is with us. 2- You and I are challenged to lead a life of witness that becomes like the star that leads others to source of light, Jesus Christ; Like the Magi, let us follow that star until we find Jesus Christ. 3 – Consequently, we are called to go out and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others; to share the light that Christ has given us, so that others may find the way to Jesus Christ. May God bless you. Amen.


Solemnity of the Holy Family. Year A.
Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23.

The solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas, mainly for three reasons:

1- a reminder that Christmas is a family feast; and

2- to show us that Jesus was born, and raised in a family just like us; and

3 – to show that Mary and Joseph faced many of the challenges that families today have to struggle with.

Paul in the second reading reminds us that Christ is the profound link for every Christian family. For Paul, Christ must be at the center of every Christian family.

He speaks of the peace that reigns in the family that lives in Christ. That peace is threatened today. The greatest threat facing families is simply that we do not spend enough time together. We are so busy working, or socializing, or watching TV, or surfing the Internet and social media, that we have less, and less time for each other. That lifestyle takes a big toll on the family today.

Mary and Joseph faithfully accept their vocation as parents, and on their total submission to God’s will. The spirit in which Mary and Joseph lived their parental vocation, is an example to be imitated by parents. The Holy Family is put before us, as a model, because even though they did not have our modern day obstacles like TV and the Internet, Mary and Joseph went through many of the trials, and obstacles that families today have to struggle with. The holy family had to flee to Egypt in order to escape from the threat over the life of Jesus by king Herod. Mary and Joseph were troubled when they lost their 12 year old boy only to find him in the temple, doing his Father’s business.

They had to struggle to survive without miracles! Joseph had to teach young Jesus carpentry, so they could earn a family living. We can also imagine that Mary and Jesus suffered bereavement after Joseph’s death. Mary suffered the most agony watching her own son die on the Cross. How did the parents of Jesus cope with the difficulties they faced? One may say that Mary and Joseph lived a family spirituality centered on Jesus:

they learnt to look at Jesus with eyes of faith; to listen to him with attention, and to meditate on the unfolding mystery of the Son of God in their midst. But above all, they loved each other. Just as the Holy Family survived its crises through love for each other and faith in God, let us pray that our families too may follow that example of love and faith in God.

So this is the message we can take from the readings of this Solemnity:

1- The example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph challenges us to find ways of coming together and centering our family life spirituality on Jesus.

2- We need to pray together as family, because family bonds are strengthened when Christ is in our midst. “The family that prays together stays together.”

3- We are invited to pray for our own families and those of our relatives and friends, so that, by God’s grace, they may overcome the trials and sufferings that face family life today, and find healing and reconciliation, during this Christmas season and throughout the year. May God bless you. A Happy and Blessed New Year. Amen.


Fourth Sunday of Advent. Year A.
Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Mt. 1:18-24

Does doing God’s will and the messiness of life have anything in common? That is one mquestion we need to think about seriously this Sunday. In the last two Sundays we have focused attention on John the Baptist. This Sunday, only days from Christmas, we change our focus from John the Baptist to Saint Joseph. The main reason for this shift is that Matthew writes his Gospel for the Jewish people.

He wants to show that Jesus is the Messiah promised by the prophets in Sacred Scripture, and that He comes through the line of David. Joseph is a direct descendant of David. In the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph names the child. He gives his own spirit, and all he is to the child, the carpenter’s son. The child is Son of God, and Son of Mary, but also, through the action of naming the child by Joseph, He is Son of David.

Saint Paul, in the Second Reading argues that Jesus becomes the Son of God through the resurrection that fully manifests his divinity. The readings therefore place before us the mystery of the Incarnation foreshadowed in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament. In the first reading, Isaiah offers a sign to king Ahaz, confirming that the line of David would survive the attacks from neighboring nations. The sign is that “a maiden shall conceive and bear a son.” Very true to the prophecy, the young wife of Ahaz bears him a son, whose name would be “Emmanuel.”

Matthew in the Gospel uses that story to show the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Jesus the Messiah, out of the line of David. That is why the Gospel begins by saying “This is how Jesus Christ came to be born.” He will be named Emmanuel, a name that means “God is with us.” Two persons are at the center of this mystery.

First, we have Mary, who responds to God’s message through the angel with unconditional faith, and trust. In so doing, Mary risks so much: her future marriage, and family reputation, placing everything in the hands of God. Then we have Joseph, who at first is confused and afraid. We often hear that Gospel passage, and perhaps we wonder what Joseph was afraid of. He must have thought of the messiness of his own situation.

He must have thought of a greater mess if he went ahead with the marriage. He does not know what to make of Mary’s conception before their marriage, but then divine intervention comes. An Angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and reveals the mystery of the conception. The angel advises him to proceed with the marriage, because Mary “has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.”

Basically, Joseph is told to celebrate this unexpected birth. When he awakes from his dream, Joseph decides to follow his faith; to do God’s will and take Mary as his wife. In so doing, Joseph saves her reputation. The Gospel tells us that Jesus is born of Mary who was betrothed to Joseph son of David. In connecting Jesus to the line of David, Matthew wants to underline the fact that Jesus is fully human and is also the fulfillment of God’s promises to David. Jesus is also “Son of God”, a point explained by Paul in the second reading. The Gospel also gives us a model to follow in Mary and Joseph.

Both faced a tremendous challenge to their faith when God asked them to open their hearts to welcome Jesus into their lives. So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1 – Just as Mary and Joseph accepted to welcome Jesus into their lives with deep faith and trust, we too are challenged to do no less;

2 – As we get to Christmas in a few days, let us open our hearts so that in doing God’s will like Mary and Joseph,Christ may be born in our lives this Christmas.

3 – Both Mary and Joseph remind us that doing God’s will at times may lead us into the messiness of life; into situations, or even countries we never dreamed of. May God bless you. Amen.


Third Sunday of Advent. Gaudete Sunday
Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10;James 5:7-10; Mathew. 11:2-11.

Signs of hope, joy, new life and fulfillment of promise characterize the message of this Sunday. Last Sunday the readings focused on a peaceful kingdom in the future, when the wolf and the lamb would lie down beside each other. This Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, Rejoice Sunday.   We are invited to pause and rejoice. We are told that salvation is

near; the Messiah is in our midst. The Sunday takes its name from the opening words of the Entrance Antiphon of this Sunday taken from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians which begins with Gaudete in Domino semper (“Rejoice in the Lord always”).

That is why today we light a mdesert rose candle symbolizing  joy, because our salvation is already here in our midst.

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah announces to the people in exile that the Messiah will come; their situation is about to change; they will soon be free to go back home. Isaiah shows the people a poetic picture of how the desert will become fertile, and all the foliage will sing out the goodness and glory of God.

Then in the final section, the reading recounts how the change will affect those who long for salvation; those who look for real joy and happiness.

There would be nothing as joyful as a blind person seeing, nothing as beautiful as a deaf person hearing; nothing as uplifting as a lame person walking and a mute speaking. The reading therefore invites us to rejoice because the promised Messiah is coming soon to make that vision a reality; to bring real joy and happiness into our lives.

In the Second reading from the Letter of James, we hear the same message: “Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

The Gospel starts with John the Baptist in prison. John sends his disciples to ask Jesus whether he is really the Messiah, or would there be another to come. Jesus refers to what Isaiah had prophesied in today’s First

Reading, and says that there is no need to keep waiting for salvation.

It is already in our midst. There are already clear signs of joy, hope and new life. Jesus mtells the messengers: “Go back, and tell John what you hear, and see; the blind see again, the mlame walk, and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor”. That is why we need not wait. That is why we need to rejoice and be happy. The deeper question we need to ask on this Sunday is what constitutes real joy and happiness in our lives? In other words, material possessions, no matter how cool, never give lasting satisfaction and joy. That is why St. Augustine once said: Our heart is restless until it rests in God.

This Sunday, the readings help to see what Christ is already accomplishing in our midst, through the Church, and through our own witness that

makes the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. Miracles do happen in our parish: just open your eyes and ears.  So this is is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings proclaim joy, because our salvation is closer than when we began this season. The air of Christmas is all around us;

2- The readings draw our attention to the Messiah, who is already in our midst.  There are many signs of hope: the saving action of Christ is present in our parish;

3- The readings lead us to rejoice as we encounter the hidden “miracles” of today.  Yes, “the blind see, the lame walk, and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor.”

4- Let us pray that the Lord may open our eyes and ears of faith to see, and hear what Jesus is already doing in our midst; that we may go, and tell others what we have seen, and heard. May God bless you. Amen.

 


 

Second Sunday of Advent. Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Mathew 3:1-12.

The readings this Sunday are quite similar to last Sunday in that they focus our attention on two key Advent themes:

1) the call to prepare ourselves through conversion, and

2) the call to wait in hope for a kingdom of peace. Obviously, both themes are interrelated. In the Gospel, John the Baptist announces a message of repentance “for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.” John is the prophet Isaiah spoke of saying, “Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight”.

This is the real meaning of Advent, preparing ourselves for the Savior who comes to bring the gift of peace for the world. The Liturgy of the Word therefore invites us to prepare ourselves spiritually, by being reconciled with God and with one another.

That inner conversion should be so real that we are led to action; that we open our eyes to see the plight of the poor around us, and to do something about it. The lesson we learn from the encounter between John the Baptist, and some Jewish religious leaders is important.

John underlines the importance of authentic spiritual reform, conversion. Genuine spiritual reform is always accompanied by action as evidence that we have truly been transform by the Lord. That is why John the Baptist tells the Pharisee and the Sadducees to “Produce good fruit as evidence” of repentance. In other words, the sign of our inner transformation shows itself in the life we live. It is not enough to be baptized.

For John the Baptist, conversion meant literally turning around from the direction one is going. The second theme, waiting in hope and trust for a kingdom of peace is found in the both the first, and second readings. Isaiah prophesies that out of the line of David would come a
king, who would be a different kind of king. “Justice shall be the band around his waist, and  faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” That king would be nothing but just, for He will establish justice and peace.

That peace would be so great and genuine that natural enemies in animal kingdom like the wolf and the lamb would lie down next to one another, a beautiful image of
harmony among God’s creation. That is the kingdom of peace John the Baptist was preparing the people for when he said, “prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Paul in the Second Reading reminds us that our God is a God of endurance, and encouragement,  and as people of hope, we must never give up until all is realized in Christ.
This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings highlight the meaning behind the lighting of the Second Candle on the Advent Wreath, signifying our need for repentance, and calling us to reform our lives.

2- We are called to be reconciled with God and with one another; to live in genuine peace and harmony;

3- That reconciliation and acceptance of God’s mercy will certainly lead to the kingdom of peace we all await when Christ comes; the kingdom of peace starts with me when I am humble enough to be totally reconciled with God and with others. May God bless you. Amen.


First Sunday of Advent. Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew. 24:37-44.

Waiting, watching and preparing: are the three key words
that sum up best, the Advent Season that we begin today.
We need to choose to be found doing our duty as Christian
when the Lord comes, watching, and waiting. Advent is
about waiting for fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision of all the nations, transforming their weapons of war into tools of cultivation, and harvesting for their people; a time anticipating peace and joy.

The Gospel reading urges us to stay awake, and to be
ready, “because the Son of Man is coming at an hour” we
least expect. Paul in the second reading suggests that we
prepare ourselves through conversion: throwing “off the
works of darkness, and putting on the armor of light;” putting “on the Lord Jesus Christ, and making no provision for the desires of the flesh.” The readings underline two basic Advent themes:

1) anticipation and hope for the second coming
of our Lord and Savoir, who brings peace into our hearts
and in the world, symbolized by the green circular wreath,
or advent wreath. The circle points to the promise of eternal life.

The 5 candles: three purple, one rose, and one white in the canter are mlit progressively on each Sunday, with the white one being mlit on Christmas Day. The lighting of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that dispels the darkness of our lives, and brings us newness, life, and hope.

2) The second theme symbolized by the color purple is conversion, and renewal in preparing a suitable place to welcome our Savoir in our hearts. Conversion is a call to be instruments of peace in the world, so that a kingdom of peace may come about; so that nations may no longer engage in wars; so that neighbors may talk of peace, and not of war; so that God’s reconciling love may become a reality.This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- Advent is a season of watching, and waiting with
hope for Christ, who brings peace into our hearts, and in the mworld;

2- Advent is a time of looking forward with eagerness,
and anticipation for the joy of salvation that Christmas
brings.

3- But above all it is a season of spiritual preparation
to receive Christ in our hearts by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. May God bless you. Amen.

 


Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King. Year C.
Readings: 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43.

You and I are challenged by two basic questions. Who is your king? What kingdom do you serve? The account of David’s anointing in the first reading speaks of his closeness mto the people and his future role as a shepherd-king. David is the deliverer and shepherd mof his people, thus pre-figuring the mystery of Christ, who is King, Shepherd, and at the msame time the lamb slain on the cross for his sheep.

That is the point of Luke’s crucifixion narrative, in which everything said about Jesus comes to be true: the “chosen one”, the “Messiah”, the “Savior of all”; the one who saves himself by surrendering his own life. Indeed the readings lead us to meet Christ, who, in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, “is the image of the unseen God, and the first born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven, and on earth: everything visible, and everything invisible, everything was created through him and for him.” In this beautiful hymn that is highly poetic, St. Paul gives us a glimpse of the Father, who sums up all creation in Christ.

St. Paul’s meditation on the Father summing up, and reconciling all things in and through Christ, is one of the mmost beautiful prayers of thanksgiving to the Father. We are invited to offer our gratitude to the Father for all that he has done for us throughout the Liturgical Year that comes to an end this Sunday.

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.

The prayer after Communion beautifully sums up the mystery of Christ mwe celebrate this Sunday: “Lord, you give us Christ, the King of all creation, as food for everlasting life. Help us to live by his Gospel and bring us to the joy of his kingdom”. This last Sunday of the Liturgical Year challenges us to be more determined to live by the values and principles of Christ our King, and to be willing to sacrifice ourselves for those values.

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:

1- We are invited to live by the Gospel Christ preached; by His values of peace, Justice and love that Christ shared; and by rules that govern His Kingdom, the Commandments.

2- The readings exhort us to let Christ reign in our lives, so we may be truly united with him, and thus be effective
witness in Christ’s kingdom.

3- As we conclude the Liturgical Year, let us pray that
you and I continue to be faithful servants of our King; that we may continue to bear good fruit for the growth of his Kingdom. May God bless you. Amen.


Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C.
Readings: Malachi 3:19-20; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19.

Signs of the end and readiness to meet the Lord are some of the phrases that help us to focus of the central message of this Sunday. The readings draw our attention to the urgency of being ready for Christ’s triumph over the enemy in a battle that is already taking place.

In the first reading from the prophet Malachi, we hear that the day is coming when those who do not listen to the Lord will be burnt up, while those who listen and dance God’s melody will leap like calves going to pasture.

Paul in the Second Reading deals with the question of the Second Coming of the Lord, because some faithful in Thessalonica believed that Christ was about to return soon, and therefore there was no need to work. Paul corrects that misunderstanding.

As we draw close to the end of the liturgical year, the readings turn our attention to the end times, symbolized in the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, and the apocalyptic mevents before the end. Jesus in the Gospel teaches us that before the events of the end take place, we too must undergo persecution, but by our perseverance, we will secure our lives. Jesus also cautions against the danger of false prophets, who try to announce the end of the world.

Christians from the very beginning have always been curious about the meaning of today’s readings, and some would want to ask the same question the disciples asked: “Teacher, when will this happen?” They want know when exactly the end-times will be. Jesus confirms that the end
times will certainly come, and warns against false prophets. “Take care not to be deceived, because many will come using my name and saying ‘I am he’ and ‘the time is near at hand’.

And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen, but the end is not so soon.” Because those are only signs, do not listen to anyone telling you when the end of the world is coming: whether they be priests, or televangelists or self-proclaimed prophets or spiritual writers. As soon as you hear any preachers say they know when the end will come,
be sure to avoid them like the plague. Jesus in the Gospel does not tell us when the end
times will come.

He only speaks about signs of the end: wars, earthquakes, insurrections, famines and plagues; “and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.” The point Jesus makes is that we should not be concerned about when the end will be. Rather we should be concerned about our readiness at all times. The Gospel therefore underlines that aspect of readiness: our growth in faith and hope, and gearing ourselves for Christ’s victory, which is also our victory. In the face of suffering and persecution, through perseverance, we will triumph. “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair of your head will be destroyed.”

This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings draw our attention to the urgency of our readiness at all times for Christ’s triumph over the enemy. The battle is already taking place.

2- We must not live in fear, but in faith and hope, prepared to stand up for the truth; prepared to suffer persecution; ready to meet the Lord.

3- The bottom line is whether you and I will secure our lives; whether we will triumph in the end; whether that day will find us ready, in God’s grace. The choice is yours. May God bless you. Amen.


Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C.

Readings: 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14;

2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38. 

The resurrection, life after death, and the immortality of the soul, are some of the words that help us to focus on the message of this Sunday. The readings help us to affirm our faith in the resurrection, and to capture a glimpse of what life after death beyond this world might be. The first reading from the Second Book of Maccabees is an account of Jews, who remained faithful even in the face of persecution as they believed they would rise into new life. The point of the reading is that even though the body may die, the soul is immortal; our life here on earth has a purpose; God created us with our destiny in heaven hereafter.

That is why the seven sons, and their mother display such an incredible faith in the face of death and torture. They are so convinced of life after death. The first reading therefore underlines

the foundations of belief and hope in the life hereafter. All seven sons die for their faith, each in turn professing his faith before death. Their faith hinges on their belief in the resurrection; that there is life after death. They believed that the King of the world would raise them up to live again forever. That promise would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ in His resurrection, giving new life to all, who believe in Him.

The Gospel from Luke is another reminder of the immortality of the human soul. But just as in the first reading, the Gospel reaffirms our faith in the resurrection, and reminds us that our faith witness is bound to be met with opposition and cynicism. In the Gospel, Sadducees are making fun of Jesus. “So, there is life after death? Well, prove it for us? Suppose a woman had seven husbands, and they all died before her, whose wife would she be at the resurrection?”

The issue is, if there is life after death, will there be marriage in heaven? So they thought they had outsmarted Jesus; they had Him backed into a corner. Does not that method of opposition sound familiar? Jesus in His response helps us to understand that our risen bodies will be different from what they are now. Our bodies now are mortal and vulnerable to all sorts of viruses.

In the resurrection we will be like the angels. In other words, we will be so transformed by immortality that we will not need to eat; no going to the grocery store; no health care insurance; no need to continue the human species. Therefore, there will be no need for marriage. This faith is founded on our hope in the resurrection, because as Jesus tells us, our God is not a God of the dead but of the living. The resurrection will transform our mortal lives into a life of eternal love of God, and one another far more exciting than we have ever experienced on earth.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings challenge us to live in the light of the resurrection, full of hope that indeed there is life after this present earthly life.

2- That is why we confess in the Creed that “I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” The resurrection is the enter-piece of our faith, and Christians have shed their blood, because of that faith.

3- Just as the Jewish family in the first reading endured suffering because of their faith in the resurrection, we too must be prepared to defend, and to live our faith in the light of resurrection. May God bless you. Amen.


 

Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C.

Readings: Wisdom 11:22-12:2;

2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10.

 

The gospel reading from this Sunday talks about three things: the searching sinner, the seeking Savior, and the spectacular salvation. First, the searching Sinner: While Zacchaeus was very wealthy, and successful by the world’s standards, he knew something was missing. Even people today, if they are honest, will eventually admit that there is more to life than just trying to make money, and obtain possessions.

Zacchaeus not only wanted to see Jesus, he wanted to know as well who Jesus was. He may not have fully understood what was going on in his heart, but Zacchaeus had a desperate need to get to Jesus. Zacchaeus had at least two problems that day. The first was that he was a short man, and the second was that his sins were keeping him from Jesus. He was short on integrity, and tall on sin. Zacchaeus did not allow anything, not the crowd nor his condition, to stand between him, and his desire to see Jesus.

What about you? Do you care enough about the condition of your soul to pay whatever price is necessary to be right with God? Are you willing to turn from that little pet sin? Are you ready to run to Him? Second, the seeking Savior: Jesus knew the spiritual state of Zacchaeus, and he was filled with compassion toward him.

This is how it always happens. Jesus makes the first move by coming to the sinner, and offering life through himself. We would never be able to come to Jesus unless he came to us first. This is the only instance in the four gospels where we read of Jesus, inviting himself to someone’s home for a meal. Jesus must stay at his house, because it pictures what his ministry is all about. He came to save sinners from their sins.

Third, the spectacular Salvation: After the meal, and conversation with Jesus, Zacchaeus was fully sold out to Christ. Jesus had changed his heart, and now he wanted to demonstrate that change through his restitution. Whenever Jesus meets someone there is change. If you have never changed, it may be because you are not fully sold out to Jesus. Are you so deeply embedded in the world that you cannot change course? Zacchaeus was locked into a way of life that was pretty hard to change, and yet Jesus changed him. And he can do the same for you. May God bless you. Amen.


Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C.

Readings: Sirach 35:12-14,16-18;

2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18; Luke 18:9-14.

 

Brothers and sisters, the Word of God challenges us about our relationship with God and with one another. If God refuses the proud and hears the cry of the humble poor, we cannot but identify ourselves with them. We cannot be the disciples of Jesus and think and act merely in terms of what we are entitled to by virtue of our birthright or conquest.

None of us could be saved if God applied the strict justice on the basis of our merits and failings. The parable from this Sunday Gospel is actually designed to prod at our sense of entitlement and our claim to what is ours at the exclusion of others. It challenges us to think and act in the way that God in Jesus has shown us, which is based on the justice of the kingdom and the very mercy of God. Pope Francis often comes into sharp criticism even from Catholic circles because of the way in which he lives out the message of God’s gratuitous love and mercy. In an age of trickled down economy and entitlement, he challenges us to see and value people the way Jesus taught and showed us.

His embrace of refugees, Muslims, prisoners, etc is quite frankly confronting. If tax collectors, Samaritans, lepers, etc were the beneficiaries of God’s unstinting goodness, who are we to exclude the outcasts of today? If the socially marginalized, the ritually unclean, the morally inferior, etc found favor in the company of Jesus, who are we to judge as not entitled to what we are entitled to?

Let us pray that like St Paul who turned away from his self-made illusion after his Damascus experience, we learn to be humble, open

and docile to God’s way. May we learn to see the way God would see, and it is often from the bottom up, or from the vantage point of the outcast rather than from a privileged position. May our lives, and prayers be led by a humble spirit and acceptable to God. May we grow in empathy, and compassion after Christ’s generous, and loving heart. May God bless you. Amen!


Twenty Ninth Sunday Ordinary Time. Year C. Readings: Exodus 17:8-13; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18: 1-8.

Persistence, determination and fighting, are some of the phrases that sum up the message of this Sunday. The readings focus on the power of persistent prayer. Such persistence is a determination to continue in prayer particularly the highest form prayer of thanksgiving, the Eucharist, every Sunday, and even every day.

Being at Mass Sunday after Sunday, or even daily may be compared to Moses keeping his hands upraised, a gesture of prayer, in order to assure the Lord’s continuous protection, and help as we hear in the first reading.

“As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage” in battle against one of the most feared fighters Israel ever confronted. 

No nation on earth could ever defeat the Amalekites. But with Moses’ hands raised in prayer to the God of Israel, with Aaron and Hur holding Moses’ hands up high in a posture of prayer, with the forces of God on the side of Israel, not only was Amalek defeated, this fierce nation was totally destroyed.

Paul’s second letter to Timothy also sees the apostolic ministry in terms of persistence. “Be persistent whether it is convenient, or inconvenient…through all patience and teaching.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells “his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.” Jesus is aware that his disciples, and us tend to give up too soon, and therefore tells them the p arable of a widow, who kept going to a judge until he finally accepted to intervene for her.

The point of the parable is clear: There is nothing impossible with God just as there were no enemies too strong for the forces of Israel with God on their side. When God fights with us against the forces of evil, we will win the battle.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1 m- Just as Israel had fierce battles with Amalek, you and I have our own Amalek to fight, our vices and weaknesses. Whether we fight our sinful habits: explosive temper, anger or whatever vice like alcoholism, or drug addiction, do not ever give up.

2 – The power of persistent prayer is exemplified best by going to Mass Sunday after Sunday, or even daily, and in all humility believing that in the end, with God on your side, you will win the battle.

3- The readings remind us of our own fierce battles with our own Amalek of anger, and sloth, and gossip. We must never to give up, because with the persistent power of prayer, even the fiercest enemy, the devil will fall. Think about your own Amalek today, and be determined to go into battle with God on your side. May God bless you. Amen.


October 13, 2019 – Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C. Readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17: 11-19.

Being cured, being healed, and thanksgiving to the Lord are the key phrases that sum up the message of this Sunday. The readings draw our attention to the mystery of being cured, and being healed. While being cured affects only the physical, being both cured, and healed implies being touched so deeply at the spiritual levels of emotions that one is led to conversion, and being grateful to God for such a favor. In the first reading, Naaman, a military general of the Syrian army goes to the prophet Elisha to be healed. He is not only a Gentile, but also a pagan. Be-sides, he has leprosy.

However, his efforts are rewarded with being cured, and healed. In the reading, we notice how Naaman returns to the prophet Elisha totally converted to thank God for having been totally healed of his leprosy. But since the prophet does not accept his gift of gratitude, Naaman carries soil from Israel, and builds a sanctuary on it in Syria, where he would continually worship God, and offer gratitude for what God had done for him.

In the Gospel, Luke presents a similar story of the ten lepers, who were cured by Jesus on their way to see their priests. But only one of them returns to thank God for being cured, and healed. Luke tells us that he was a Samaritan, a Gentile. The point of the passage is to teach us, not only about the obligation of thanking God for what he does for us so generously, but once again to draw our attention the difference between being cured, and being healed. We can be physically cured, but not healed spiritually.

“Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they?” Just think for a moment on the many blessings, and favors we have received from the Lord even at times when do not deserve. The list is long. I have often heard people speak of how lucky they were that they did not get killed, or they survived from a bad sickness.

Luck has nothing to do with all that. It is God, who cares for us, and protects us always. In the Gospel, the leper who returns to thank Jesus is both cured, and healed. He shows both a physical cure and an emotional healing that prompts him to express gratitude. That is also a sign of conversion; a sign that Jesus touched him deeply to the extent of wanting to tell Jesus “thank you”.

This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- Like Naaman, the Syrian, and like the one leper in the gospel, may we be blessed with a spiritual healing that overflows into thanksgiving to God for His blessings, and favors in our life.

2- Every Eucharist is a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s saving action in Christ.

3- Remembering to say thank you to God is always a sign of having been deeply touched by what God does for us, and for our loved ones. May God bless you. Amen.


October 6, 2019 – Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Readings: Habakkuk 1:2-3,2:2-4; 2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14; Luke 17:5-10.

Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable, and proclaiming the sanctity of human life are some the phrases that capture best the theme of this Sunday. Habakkuk’s society in the first reading was not all that much different from ours, where violence, and power are glorified, and the vulnerable are destroyed, or kept in their place. Since 1972, the first Sunday of October has been designated by the Church as Respect Life Sunday, also known as Sanctity of Life Sunday.

We are all challenged by the very context that denies the sanctity of human life while promoting a culture of death. Violence is all around us, and played daily on our TV screens. Today we join the prophet Habakkuk in asking mGod, “How Long, O Lord, I cry out to you, ‘Violence,’ but you do not intervene.” Habakkuk’s prayer is answered by the Lord indirectly.

He is told to write the vision down, it is certainly going to happen, you can record it even before it takes place. Do not despair. God will ultimately ‘transform evil into good. “The vision has its time; it will happen.” In the second reading, Paul reminding Timothy of “the gift of God” that he received, exhorts him to bear witness with courage, and present the faith with clarity. That implies that we first of all need strong faith, and trust in God.

“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power, love and self-control (discipline). So, do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with strength that comes from God.”

The Gospel reading starts as a genuine prayer of the apostles; Lord “increase our faith”. The apostles realized that faith was a gift from God, for no one can earn, or buy it. Without directly responding to the request of the apostles, Jesus used the image of uprooting a tree through the incredible power of faith.

The tree is an image of the status quo of violence, and destruction of human life. With the smallest amount of faith, the size of a  mustard seed – one can uproot a large tree like the mulberry tree (with long roots). Jesus exaggerates to make the point that genuine faith has a transforming power for us, and for the world.

If we are faithfully united to Christ, we can be transformed into more effective, instruments of the Lord in transforming the culture of death into a culture of life. As faithful disciples, we are challenged to make our choice: to serve Jesus Christ, or to remain indifferent.  So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings underline the transforming power of faith when put into action;

2- We must not despair. God will ultimately ‘transform evil into good. “The vision has its time; it will happen”.

3- The readings challenge us to give witness in a secular culture of death, and destruction of human life by promoting a culture of life; by being lovers of life ourselves. This may mean marching together to express our conviction against legalization of abortion; it may mean sticking out our heads on the firing line for our faith, or risking the possibility of persecution and even death.

4- We can choose to remain indifferent, or choose to testify to a culture of life that respects the sanctity of all human life from its very beginning to its end by natural death. Think about it.  May God bless you.

 


 

September 29, 2019 – Twenty Sixth Sunday Ordinary Time  Readings: Amos 6:1,4-7; 1 Tim 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31

Last Sunday the readings focused on the wise use of material goods, and challenged us to make use of the skills we have to win friendship with God while there is time.

This Sunday, the readings draw a sharp contrast between those who are rich, and those who are poor, between those who have lots of power and control, and those who have little power and control. The prophet Amos in the first reading warns the leaders of Israel that they will be the first to be deported into exile, because they dine like kings while the nation of Israel collapses.

Amos lived in Judah around the middle of the eighth century B.C., at a time when there was a great social gap between the rich, and the poor, in times when the wealthy had many possibilities of greater profit, and the poor could only grow poorer. Against this Old Testament background, Jesus tells another the parable in response to the criticism of the scribes, and the Pharisee regarding welcoming sinners, and eating with them.

The parable of the rich man, and Lazarus is a perfect response by Jesus to the Pharisees, who categorized the poor as sinners. The story of the rich man dressed in royal purple, and Lazarus “dressed in sores”, sets the stage for a dramatic reversal of fortunes. Lazarus was not only poor, but sick, and handicapped. He was laid at the gates of the rich man’s house daily to eat the scraps from his table. Dogs licked the sores of Lazarus as it were, feasting on him.

The rich man who dinned lavishly daily could have opened the gate and helped Lazarus, but he did not. In the parable, Jesus paints a dramatic scene of contrasts: riches and poverty, heaven and hell, compassion and indifference, inclusion and exclusion. There is also an abrupt and dramatic reversal of fortunes. We are told that the poor man died, and carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom.

The rich man also died and was buried! The contrast continues with the rich man being tormented hell, while Lazarus is happy in heaven. The rich man is now a beggar, while Lazarus is rich in God’s life. Just as there was a gap between the rich man, and Lazarus on earth, now there is a great chasm between the two.

The rich man was condemned, not because of his possessions, but because he failed to notice Lazarus, who was at his door, longing only for scraps from his table. This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- To appreciate more fully this parable, one needs to keep in mind the contrasts outlined by Jesus in the beatitudes (Lk 6) – the poor are blest, but woe to the rich; the hungry are blest, but woe to those who have food.

2- The parable challenges us to be more compassionate to-wards the poor, and to be more involved in parish social ministries that give attention to the poor, and the less fortunate.

3- Jesus wants us to discover that true riches are to be found in sharing what we have with the poor. Lazarus is still at our doors today. Think about it. May God bless you. Amen.


 

September 22, 2019 – Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Reading: Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13

Investing wisely in what matters most sums up the message of this Sunday. In the parable of the dishonest steward this Sunday, Jesus challenges us to make good use of our ingenuity to invest in what matters most: eternal salvation; to secure our spiritual future.

We must also be aware of the dangers of separating God from our faith practice, and of serving two masters. The readings underline the wise use of material goods that God has entrusted to us. We are told that material goods are meant to be shared, rather than used to exploit the poor by tempering with measuring devices, price fixing or by causing speculative shortages in order to gain from buyers.

The first reading from Amos gives a good example of the separation between religious faith and practice. Imagine in the temple worship some plotting in their hearts how they are going to cheat the poor clients. That is a good example of how the children of this world mentioned in the Gospel are well able to manipulate economic, and political situations in order to secure a better future for themselves, and their families.

We must admire such intelligence, which enables modem business persons to speculate the financial stock market through sophisticated technology, in buying, and selling their stocks on time to make money. Financial institutions are able to invest what we place in their trust, and be able to make an interest both for themselves, and for their clients. It takes the children of this world to speculate and invest wisely.

The business manager in the parable acts nearly in the same way. He dishonestly falsifies the debtors’ records in order to win friendship with those, who would provide for him, when he is fired from his job. Jesus does not admire the steward’s lack of con-science in his act, but admires his wisdom, and ability to foresee his future.

The point Jesus makes is that his followers apply the same astuteness to the one area that really matters: eternal salvation. If we were to observe the kind of ingenuity, planning, and resourcefulness that goes into political campaigns, we would understand why the business manager in the parable is admired. In a daring way, Jesus suggests that perhaps there is some lesson his followers can learn from the resourcefulness, talents, and wisdom put in financial deals, and political campaigns. Being a good steward may mean looking for ways to earn more money through employment, business opportunities, and investments, so as to give more for the cause of God’s work.This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1-The point of the para-ble is that the business manager uses his position to care, and plan for his future.

2-The parable argues against the separation between God, and everyday life; between faith, and its application in life.

3-Jesus challenges us to be as resourceful, and dedicated in the ways of God, as we are in the ways of this world, and secure our spiritual future while there is time by wisely investing in Him. May God bless you. Amen.


September 15, 2019 – Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Exodus 32:7-11,13-14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32.

Last Sunday Jesus told us in the Gospel that the key to the narrow gate of heaven cost everything we are, and own through self surrender, and detachment. This Sunday He tells us that to surrender our lives totally to Him takes a decision to go back home, where our compassionate God

awaits us. To take such a decision, we need to come to our senses. All three readings this Sunday underline God’s unmerited love, and mercy for the repentant sinner. In the first reading from Exodus, the Israelites have left God’s ways to worship a golden calf. Moses pleads for God’s mercy, and so the Lord listens, and forgives.

In the Second Reading, Paul describes himself as a repentant sinner, who had wondered far, yet God’s mercy was shown him through Jesus Christ. Before such a merciful God, how could David not sing of God’s mercy as we find in the responsorial psalm. “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness. In your compassion wipe away my offense.”

Three times the Gospel speaks of the great joy one has in finding something that had been lost: a shepherd finds his sheep; a woman finds her valuable coin; and a father finds his son, who had gone away. Jesus underlines this aspect of great joy in response to the accusations of the Scribes, and Pharisees that he welcomes sinners, and eats with them.

The parable of the Lost son, perhaps one of the most familiar biblical stories, leads us to meet our God, who is prodigally merciful, and compassionate. The Pharisees and the Scribes complain that Jesus welcomes sinners, and eats with them and therefore Jesus tells them this story.

The story touches deep cords in the fiber of Christians today, because it reminds them of real stories of family members, who left home, and headed for the big cities, and disappeared there, and later returned home after many years completely broke, sick, and destroyed by many types of addiction. The story in the Gospel is addressed to us of today, and since we know it so well, we could easily miss the real message. At the center of the story is the father.

One way of understanding the parable is through the elder son’s inability to understand his father’s undeserved forgiveness, and generosity towards the younger son, who turns up after squandering all his inheritance. The elder son could not understand how this comeback looser could now be rewarded with a banquet. Jesus tells the story in such a way that leaves us utterly surprised.

The Younger son is received fully into the family at the surprise of everybody especially the elder son. That is the way our prodigal God deals with us, when we go stray, and come back home. God is so lavish with His mercy and compassion. The Pharisees, and scribes understood they were being compared to the elder son, who is resentful, and rejects even his own brother “this son of yours” language, as compared to the father’s welcoming language “this brother of yours”.

On the one hand, we have a language of resentment and rejection, and on the other, a language of welcome, and tremendous compassion.

Three points sum up the message of this Sunday readings:

1- All three readings reveal the drama of human sin which is so deceptive. How often do we worship the golden calves to today’s society? How often to we run away from home? Yet our God in the image of the father in the Gospel surprises us with unexpected, and unmerited love, and compassion, when we return home;

2- The Gospel challenges us like the lost son to come to our senses, and take a decision to return home;

3 – We must never give up, when we find ourselves away from home, because God seeks us, and leads us to freely surrender, and allow Him to lead us back home into the fullness of grace. God never abandons us; never gives up on us. If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart. Allow God to guide you back home. The choice is yours. May God bless you. Amen.

 


September 8, 2019 – Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C. Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33.

Two weeks ago, Jesus told us in the Gospel that we can enter heaven only by the narrow gate of discipline. Last Sunday, Jesus offered us the key to that gate: the virtue of humility, the preparedness to acknowledge our unworthiness. This Sunday, Jesus tells us what the key to the gate costs:

“Any of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

In the first reading we hear that true wisdom comes only from God, who enables the wise person to be guided by spiritual values rather than those of the body; in other words, being guided by the Spirit of Christ.

In the Gospel, Jesus uses different images to explain what the key to being faithful disciples will cost. Being faithful Christians does not come at a cheap price. Jesus makes it clear that being his faithful followers can lead to hating closest family members; it can lead to a radical following of Christ that may put us at odds with family members. When Jesus compares our following him to building a new house calculating the cost, he is touching on a very important point.

Our radical following of Jesus is like a rebuilding of one’s life, but in our self-giving we let Jesus do the re-building at a very high cost. Once we have surrendered fully to Jesus, He will work on us until we are completely remade into new persons. To do that Jesus may de-stroy the old person, and we will feel the pain of that destruction. That is what is implied by the two phrases; renouncing all possessions and carrying one’s cross. When we detach ourselves from baggage, and stuff that weigh us down, and attach ourselves completely to Christ, we will then pay for then key to heaven by taking upon us our own cross.

This is what Christ is saying: ‘give me all of yourself not just part of you.’ Christ does not want to cut a branch here, and another there, but wants to cut down the whole tree in order to plant a new one. He does not want to crown our tooth, but to take it out completely. Christ does not want to rebuild a broken wall, or to repair the plumbing, but to rebuild the whole structure. The problem you, and I have is to hold onto ourselves, keeping our personal happiness as the goal of life and trying to be “good.”

Being good is not enough for Jesus. He wants us to be perfect, and that can only happen if we let Christ fully into our lives. Then we will be on the way to perfection, because Christ will be acting in us, and guiding us on the right path. That is the cost of the key we must pay to remain faithful Christians. That is the cost many women, and men had to pay while on their way to holiness. That cost is not just to some.

The Second Vatican Council reminds us that we are all called to holiness. There is a cost to be paid. Where do we start to buy the key to heaven? Start right where you are: in your own family, your own neighborhood, your own community. The readings challenge us to reflect on what we need to sell, and then go sell every obstacle to our spiritual progress. We need to sell all those things we think make us happy, and embrace our cross, to purchase the key to heaven. This Sunday Jesus tells us what the key to heaven’s narrow gate costs, everything: the self, questionable relationships, negative behav-ior, vices, bad company, etc.

The image of selling possessions also implies placing upon Jesus all our struggles: family difficulties, strained marriage relationships, sickness of a loved one, broken families. So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1-Jesus tells us what the key to heaven costs: “Any of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

2-Christ gave up everything for our sake, and he wants us to do the same for his sake, namely surrender our-selves to Him; that self-surrender will cost us; there is no cheap salvation.

3-If we surrender to our-selves to Christ, He will certainly take possession of us, and in his tender compassion transform us. St. Athanasius says that Christ “became like us in order to make us like God, and lead us on the way of perfection”. May we be prepared to pay the cost of that key to heaven, no matter what the cost. May God bless you. Amen.


September 1, 2019 – Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29; Hebrews 12:18-19,22-24; Luke 14:1,7-14.

Last Sunday, the readings focused on the image of the “narrow gate” of discipline. This Sunday, the readings return to the same theme, this time underlining the importance of the virtue humility for the follower of Christ. The first reading from Sirach urges us to conduct our “affairs with humility” and we “will be more loved than a giver of gifts”.

In other words, the humble person is more appreciated than a lavish giver. A humble person is wise and always content, while proud persons obsess themselves with foolish, and dishonest schemes for success. The readings challenge us to be like Je-sus, who was totally humble, and could see right through every disguise of the Ego, even the most subtle ones. Jesus never needed evidence about anyone he knew what a person had, and noticed how each acted, either according to humility or pride.

Jesus was humble, a true servant. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus did only the works his Father gave him to do, and he spoke only the words his Father wanted him to speak. We too, should be like that, humbly speaking only the words we hear Christ speak through the Church. So, the humble person will be exalted in the kingdom of heaven. Here on earth he, or she does not have to be jealous. A humble person lets others have their gifts, and does not have to hold grudges. Humble people can forgive easily, because they know, who they are; they are not afraid to confess their sins; they can not only love their enemies, but also praying for them.

Jesus in the Gospel challenges us to seek the lowest place at a banquet; to be humble. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor.” This spirituality of the lowest place is not just about table etiquette. It is an essential spirituality that leads us to salvation. The parable Jesus tells is a lesson about membership in the Kingdom. Such membership does not depend on one’s merits, social standing, or economic status. We do not save ourselves by these means. Salvation is God’s work in the first place. Hence, those who consider themselves worthy of high places in the Kingdom, like the Pharisees, who expected the best seats as reward for their meticulous observance of the law (holier than thou attitude), will find themselves humbled to take the lowest places.

Moreover, when God is King, membership in His Kingdom is open for all. In other words, salva-tion is a free unmerited gift to those whom God in Jesus calls. When God is King, He invites the unin-vited, the unexpected, and those, who are nothing in the eyes of society. “When you hold a lunch, or dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers, or your relatives, or wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled.” God invites those, who acknowledge their unworthiness before him.

The Gospel therefore underlines Jesus’ teaching that one enters the Kingdom of God by living a humble life, living a spirituality of the last place. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted”. Such a message obviously contradicts the expectations of today’s society based on competition and social-economic status.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings: 1- One enters the Kingdom of God by living a humble life, living a spirituality of the last place; 2- Membership in the Kingdom is God’s free gift to those, who deserve it, namely, those who truly humble themselves. 3- When God is King, He invites the uninvited, the unexpected, and those, who are nothing in the eyes of society. They all symbolize those, who acknowledge their unworthiness. May God bless you. Amen.


August 24, 2019 – Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13; Luke 13:22-30 

The readings of this Sunday focus on God’s universal salvation, and at the same time we are warned of a complacent spirit of easy salvation. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks about the narrow gate. It is the answer to the question:

“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

Those who enter the narrow gate will enjoy the Father’s eternal banquet. Those who do not have the determination and courage to live their faith will remain outside the Master’s House. Those left outside are lukewarm, and complacent Christians, who had known the Master; who ate and drank with him. They had been witnesses to his teaching. But now they are outside. They thought it was their right to enter his house, but they are shut out. Through their own choice they lost relationship with the Master. As we celebrate this Sunday Holy Mass, are inside or outside.

Are you in a state of grace? Are you with the Lord? That is the goal of our lives “to be with Jesus, at all times, and for all eternity.” Why are we here? The answer is far deeper than just “to go to Mass.” We are here, because we need to be with our Loving Lord. And we need to be with Him always, not just one hour a week in a Church, but throughout the week, wherever He can be found.

Jesus speaks about people coming “from east and west, north and south” to “recline at the table in the kingdom of God,” but urges us to “Strive to enter by the narrow gate.” He speaks about people who thought they had it made, being locked out. Jesus wants you, and me to consider the possibility that we might not be saved, and challenges us with the possibility of being lost; of being outside when He shuts that door.

The Gospel therefore reminds us that we cannot afford to be complacent. Jesus uses the example of a narrow gate, and a closed door to make the point. “Try your best to enter the narrow door, because I tell you many will try to enter, and will not succeed”. It is important that we reflect for a moment on why they will not succeed. You will recall that two weeks ago, we spoke about watchfulness, and preparedness for the Lord’s second coming.

In the present text, Jesus returns to the same theme, and this time leads us to become more aware of the consequences of being found unprepared.”Once the master of the house has got up, and locked the door” some will find themselves out-side, knocking the door, and Jesus will answer, “I do not know where you come from”.

The implication here is serious. If you will have been on “vacation”, away from God, Christ will certainly not recognize you. You will be a total stranger, naked, without his grace; without a wedding gown. The time for cleaning yourself will have expired, and there will be no way of sneaking in!So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1-Those who enter the narrow gate will enjoy the Father’s eternal banquet, but one has to strive to enter that narrow gate with de-termination as if it were a question of life and death.

2-It is not enough to be baptized. Paul re-minds us today that there is a discipline to be followed; there are values to live by.

3) When that day comes, it will not be enough to claim that we went to a Catholic school, or we have gone to Church every Sunday and have given our Church offering.

4) Good deeds of the past by them-selves will not buy a ticket into heaven; they must be matched by a life worthy of our Christian calling. The bottom line is whether you, and I will be inside or outside! The choice is mine and yours. May God bless you. Amen.


August 18, 2019, Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Readings: Jeremiah 38:4-6,8-10; Hebrew 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53

Rejection, opposition, division, and even martyrdom are some of the words that help to focus on the message of this Sunday. The readings of this Sunday remind us that to be true disciples of Jesus, we must be prepared to face rejection, opposition, and even martyrdom. In the first reading the prophet Jeremiah has prophesied the coming deportation of Israel to Babylon.

He is immediately accused of treason, and thrown into a deep well by the king because of speaking the truth, but the Lord saves him, because of his faithfulness. In the letter to the Hebrews, we are reminded of how Jesus endured the cross for our sake, and entered into the Father’s glory.In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the painful struggle, and conflict that must take place to bring about the Kingdom of God, which he has already inaugurated. “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! Do you suppose I am here to bring peace on Earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

In these words of Jesus, we find the paradox of the Kingdom that grows in spite of opposition, and confrontation. Several times Jesus warned his disciples of this op-position. “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me before you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too”. The readings therefore teach us that living our faith, and the Gospel we preach, can indeed lead to persecution, and death. We are therefore reminded not to lose sight of Jesus, who is always with us. We are told that in the midst of such conflicts, Christ is present in our struggles. So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1-Jesus reminds us of the painful struggle, and conflict that must take place to bring about the Kingdom of God.

2-Like Jeremiah, and Jesus Christ, as followers of Jesus Christ, we must face rejection, opposition, and even martyrdom.

3-Once the fire that Jesus brought on earth is set ablaze no one can extinguish it; the kingdom grows despite rejection, struggle, and opposition. Think about it. May God bless you. Amen.

 


August 11, 2019 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2,8-19; Luke 12:32-48

Three key words sum up the message of this Sunday readings: preparedness, faithfulness and Hopefulness. After last Sunday’s teaching on how to relate to material possessions, this Sunday Jesus focuses our attention on the importance of vigilance and preparedness for his coming. Such preparedness requires being faithful, and hopeful as disciples waiting for their master’s return.

Jesus uses an interesting story of servants waiting for the return of their master any time. The servants keep vigil, trusting like Abraham who kept the faith and trusted in the power of God. In the Gospel story, Jesus is the master, who tells us: “You too must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at a time you least expect.” In today’s society all that sounds like some kind of uncertain future. Yet, we are aware that preparedness is a fact of life. We carry a spare tire in preparation for a flat. We purchase insurance in the possibility of theft, accident, death, or destruction. The list for our human preparedness is long.

This Sunday Jesus challenges us regarding our spiritual preparedness. Fidelity is difficult in today’s society that prefers freedom over fidelity to the Gospel. Some might be afraid of being too committed. Jesus tells us not to be afraid of deepening our commitment to the Lord; of standing for the truth. The Gospel teaches us that our faith is treasure entrusted to us to be guarded. In the story, Jesus implies that we must not let a thief steal that treasure away from us. That is why Jesus underlines the importance of the present moment of waiting for his coming. The waiting is not a time we could take a vacation, away from God, as if we wanted a break from God.

Rather, it is a time for creating a deeper relationship with God; continually walking on a journey of faith; and constantly being strengthened by the sacraments. That is why we come to Church on Sunday, not just to fulfill an obligation, but to be together with God’s people journeying with Christ in the hope of His coming. This is what we celebrate at every Mass keeping alive Christ’s memory until he comes again. The best way to prepare for the Lord’s coming is not by doing something great just on time, but by being faithful all the times.

The readings challenge us to be like the Israelites in the second reading, who were celebrating the Passover when the angel of deliverance came, and like Abraham and Sarah walking the journey of faith loyally and consistently. We may, or may not be around when the Lord appears at the Second coming. But we will surely encounter the Lord when He comes to each of us when our earthly life is over. The question is, what will that moment be like? The readings help us to be prepared for that moment of truth, so that it will be a moment of fulfillment; a moment of complete trust and calm before our Lord and just Judge who will welcome us into the eternal banquet. Three points sum up the central message of this Sunday readings:

1-Just as we invest so much in preparing for uncertain futures, Jesus teaches us to invest on our spiritual preparation, and to be ready at any moment when he comes.

2-The first reading gives us the example of Abraham, who was totally committed to God by his faith and trust. We too of today are invited to be totally committed to Christ, keeping his word, no matter how difficult it might be; no matter how long the waiting might be.

3-It is not easy to wait for a promised future, and that is why God gives us His grace to help us to hang on there vigilant, ready at all times to receive Christ when he returns. How well are you prepared should Christ come right now? Think about it. May God bless you. Amen.


August 4, 2019, 18th- Sunday in Ordinary Time – Gospel Reading – Luke 12:13-21 – A person’s life does not consist of possessions.

Family Connection

Family life helps us learn about the values of solidarity and the common good. As a family, we strive to respect the rights of each family member and make decisions that promote the common good of the family.

Talk about what it would be like if the family ordered a pizza and then divided it unevenly, with some members getting as many pieces as they wanted while others got only a half slice.

Talk about how you work to make sure that everyone in the family has his or her fair share.Talk about how your family is also a member of the human family, called to share the goods of creation fairly and justly.

Explain that in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to re-member that the goods of the world are intended to be shared by all. Read aloud Luke 12:13-21. Talk about the parable of the rich fool and ask family members to describe what they think he did wrong. Emphasize that although the man in the story doesn’t seem bad, Jesus points out that this man’s flaw was that he was thinking only about himself and his own comfort and security. Emphasize that when we fail to think about the needs of others, we call that a sin of omission.Remind your children that each time we go to Mass, we ask forgiveness for what we have done and for what we have failed to do. We call this prayer the Confiteor.  End this time together by praying the Confiteor (“I confess to almighty God…”).

 


 

July 28, 2019, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time –Gospel Reading Luke 11:1-13 Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer.

Family Connection

When someone in our family is going through a hard time, we can’t just sit by and watch. We try to do everything we can to let him or her know that he or she is not alone. Sometimes we even try to find a special gift for him or her—something that will help that person to understand how important he or she is to us.

Talk about times in your family when this has happened.
Like a good father, God saw that his children needed help. He decided to offer his beloved children a special gift to reveal his love. What did God give us? Not a thing, but a person—the Father’s beloved Son, Jesus. Jesus, in turn, taught us to approach God as we would approach a loving father. He gave us the words of a prayer that we call the Our Father, or the Lord’s Prayer.
Read aloud Luke 11:1-13. Talk about how Jesus teaches us to be persistent in prayer.

Think of times when family members were persistent about something until they were able to achieve a goal or receive what they sought. Talk about what it means to be persistent in prayer. Help your children understand that prayer is not like sitting on Santa Claus’s lap, asking for what we want until we get it. Emphasize that prayer is a way of striving to recognize how God is reaching out to us in love and responding by presenting him with our needs. Conclude this time together by joining hands and praying the Lord’s Prayer. God bless you!


Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C
Readings: Genesis 18:1-10; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke.10:38-4

Being with Christ” and “doing things for the Lord are the two phrases that capture best the message of this Sunday. The readings of this Sunday focus our attention on the Christian values of welcome, and hospitality that pave the way for the presence of Christ in our lives and our homes.

It is in this context that Paul in the second reading speaks about “a mystery that has been hidden for ages” that has now been revealed to God’s Holy Ones. When the Church uses the term mystery, it goes much deeper than the secular meaning of mystery. For the Church a mystery is a truth that is incomprehensible by reason and knowable only through divine revelation.

The Early Church referred to the sacraments as “mysteries”. When adults are about to come into the faith they are anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, so they may have the strength, and the grace to be open to learn the Mystery of faith, namely the events of the action of Jesus Christ in the world.

At the most solemn moment in the Mass, after the Bread, and Wine be-come the Body and Blood of Christ, we are called upon to proclaim the Mystery of Faith, and so we respond by proclaiming Christ’s death, resurrection and that He will come again. Paul, therefore, reminds the Colossians and us that we have received the Mystery that Christ is in us. Christ is the reason for our being, for our doing and our final destiny.

The Gospel reminds us of that mystery of Christ’s presence in the lives of two women. Martha is busy doing things for Christ, while Mary, her sister, is concerned with being with Jesus. Instead of focusing on Jesus out there somewhere, we need to focus on Jesus present right here, in your lives, in your family and in others, in the Church and in the world.

Just as God enters into the presence of Abraham, who welcomes the three mysterious strangers in the first reading, so too Christ enters into the presence of Martha, and Mary, who joyfully welcome Jesus in their home.

The story of Martha and Mary underlines two aspects of Christian life. On the one hand, we have a dimension of “being with the Lord” like Mary. Being in quiet presence with Christ gives us the space to pause, and read our road map; to listen to the Lord for guidance; and to regain our sense of direction. On the other hand, we need to “do things” for the Lord like Martha. However, we can be so active that we forget prayer or neglect “being with Christ.” Therefore, we need to balance both ways.

So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- Just as God enters into the presence of Abraham in welcoming the three mysterious strangers, so too does God enter into our presence in welcoming everyone, who comes our way.

2- Christian values of welcome, and hospitality point to the mystery of Christ’s presence in our lives, and in our homes.

3- We need to find a balance between our “being with Christ” like Mary, and our “doing things for the Lord” like Martha. May God bless you. Amen.

 


Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Dt. 30:10-14; Col 1:15-20; Lk. 10:25-37

God’s view of neighbor that sets no boundaries, and love of neighbor as God would, are the phrases that capture best the message of this Sunday. The parable of the Good Samaritan is only found in Luke’s Gospel. It is perhaps one of the best known stories that Jesus used, and has over the centuries captured the imagination of many artists, who have put the story into drama, song, paintings, and sculpture. The central message of the parable is found in what Jesus said before, and after the story: “Do this and life is yours”, and “Go and do the same”.

The lawyer was expecting a learned intellectual response from Jesus on “who is my neighbor?” Instead, Jesus told a surprising story of a foreigner becoming a hero, while Jewish religious leaders are the bad guys.

The story of the Good Samaritan is told in the context of God’s command for love of neighbor, which was a sacred responsibility. In telling this story, Jesus shows that true love of neighbor must be put into action. It is not a mere intellectual concept or feeling.

Jesus cleverly dramatizes the story knowing his audience. The story is meant to get the lawyer to ask the real question, “how do I become neighbor to others?”, rather than “who is my neighbor?” The point that Jesus makes is that we do not choose neighbors. Rather, Christians respond to peoples’ needs irrespective of their color, creed or origin, and by so doing they become neighbors to them.

Nor can we rationalize a situation when someone is in need. Here is a concrete situation that may pose a dilemma. A beggar comes towards you, and asks for alms. You immediately smell his alcohol. What the law of love of neighbor requires in this case is that we go ahead, and give alms. Jesus would not judge such a person. Neither should we. There is al-so an important twist in the story by Jesus. It is the despised Samaritan, who cares for the person, who was robbed, and beaten up.

The priest and the Levite were more concerned about the law on ritual purity. Therefore, they preferred to avoid the wounded person in order not to be polluted. They placed observance of the law over the love, and care for someone in need. In a sense Jesus becomes the Good Samaritan, the compassionate stranger, who cares for all of us, when we are robbed, and wounded by sin. Jesus bandages our wounds, and puts us in the inn (the Church).

Here Jesus cares for us, and heals us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, thus restoring us back to God’s grace.  So, what do we learn from the readings of this Sunday?:

1- The parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to see God’s view of neighbor that goes beyond any narrow definition. The first step in meeting this challenge is conversion of heart, and mind towards any-one, who is in need.

2- The story of the Good Samaritan invites us to go, and do the same; to bind the wounds of those robbed of their joy, of their dignity, and left to die on the road-side naked. We are invited to go, and bring Christ’s compassion, and healing to whoever we meet on our way. In other words, our love for others must be as wide as God’s love that excludes no one.

3- Like the Good Samaritan, our compassion must be real, and practical as Jesus Christ has always been in binding our wounds, and caring for us, when we are robbed of God’s grace, and left to die by the wayside. May God bless you. Amen.

 


Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: Isaiah 66:10-14c; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20.

Today the Lord invites us to follow Him and to preach His Good News to others. There is much joy in the readings today but also a sense of urgency and a bit of harshness. These readings reflect the reality of seeking to follow the Lord and be faithful to Him.

The first reading is from the Prophet Isaiah and is plucked out of a chapter which deals mostly with the harshness of living in exile, of returning to the Promised Land and of have to struggle to be faithful even though the people are back in the land promised to them.

Most of this section of Isaiah is about hardship and yet once in a while we find intense joy, as in this image of God as a mother who nurtures her children. The author turns from the hardships which the people are living to point out that God really does care. How often we ourselves doubt the love of God or God’s care for us when we face hard-ship.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Galatians and tells us to rejoice in the Cross, to rejoice in the suffering that we must endure in order to follow the Lord. We can see how clearly this is a Christian interpretation of the same reality that their Jewish ancestors had suffered in exile.

The challenge is for each one of us: when we suffer or are reviled or made fun of, we can identify with Christ or we can rebel and reject the sufferings. The teaching is clear: seek Jesus Himself and accept the sufferings as a way of unity and peace.

The Gospel of Luke today tells about the sending of the disciples. It is clear that Jesus expected His followers to experience welcome and also rejection. The disciples may well not be received with love and openness. They are simply to tell others that they will face a judgment for not receiving them. That is not easy! There is no argument, no meanness, just a statement of the truth. For us today, the challenge is the same: Pro-claim Jesus Christ!

Proclaim Jesus in the way we live and in the way we deal with adversity, suffering and rejection. It is not easy to walk the way of the Lord, but it brings an incredible awareness of God’s love and God’s maternal care for us. We are sent by Jesus. Let us live in Jesus!


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: 1 Kgs 19:16,19-21; Gal 5:1,13-18; Lk 9:51-62

Determination to follow God’s call, and the cost of discipleship help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. The first reading from the First Book of Kings is about the call of Elisha. The passage dramatizes the implications of responding to God’s call.

Elisha does the unthinkable. What he does is madness in the eyes of the world, but a wonderful metaphor for total detachment. He slaughters the very oxen used for plowing. If you can imagine in today’s world a young man destroying all the farm machines, and tools before going to the seminary that is what Elisha does by destroying the source of family livelihood.

In the Gospel, Jesus challenges some would be disciples by highlighting the excuses they give when God calls them. The Gospel applies to us too and challenges our tempta-tion of telling Jesus “let me finish up a few things first, and I’ll follow you later when I have less responsibility”.

Jesus invites us to let go everything, so we may be free to fol-low him. Since the Proclamation of the kingdom comes first, Jesus wants us to follow him now, not tomorrow or later. Christ’s call radically implies some painful hard choic-es, and a price to pay.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mk. 10:34). In other words, following Jesus implies risking one’s life, one’s self-image, being rejected, ridiculed, and despised. It means losing one’s life, even by death, for the sake of Christ. Let me finish with a brief story.

A true story is told about a captain with 600 sailors, who arrived by sail boats on the East Coast in the 16th century. The captain was so determined to stay that he took a risk by ordering the destruction of the sail boats by fire. Burning the boats meant that there was no turning back.

With no other option, the sailors, and their families took the risk, but were now free to forge ahead, and settle in the new world. This story illustrates the risk involved in freeing ourselves in order to respond to God’s call. There’s nothing like burning your boats to focus your mind on God’s call only without any other option. In God’s call there is no plan B. It means taking the risk to let go, and let God take over your life.

So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1-Our response to God’s call implies doing the unthinkable like the captain in the story burning the sail boats, thereby freeing himself and the sailors to settle down in the new world.

2- Our re-sponse like that of Elisha means giving up our livelihood, family, and friends in order to follow God’s call.

3- Christian stewardship implies lots of self-sacrifice including risk-ing one’s life, one’s self-image, being rejected, ridiculed and despised.

4- You and I are called to let go in order to be free to follow Christ. The bottom-line question is: what boats are you prepared to burn and so free yourself to follow Christ? May God bless you. Amen.


 

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Readings: Gn 14:18-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11b-17


Eucharistic communion, social justice, and inclusiveness are the key words that help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. The Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ underlines our unity with Christ, the Body, and we his members. Christ is the source of our communion with one another, and with the Father. But while the Body, and Blood of Christ unites, and nourishes us spiritually, we can easily forget, or neglect the social justice dimension of the Eucharist.

Yes, there is a social justice dimension of the Eucharist. On the Occasion of the Year of the Eucharist (2004 to 2005), Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Stay with us Lord proposed that diocesan, and parish communities commit themselves in a particular way to responding to one of the many forms of poverty present in our world. He said that “The criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged, will be our mutual love, and in particular our concern for those in need”.


The Apostle Paul teaches that it is “unworthy” of a Christian community to par-take of the Lord’s Supper amid division, and indifference towards the poor (1 Cor 11:17-22, 27-34). Our Catechism underlines this point in reminding us that “To re-ceive in truth the Body, and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren”.

When the Eucharistic meal is shared equally by the faithful there is no division. The solemnity draws our attention to the continued injustice, discrimination, and other forms of structural injustices that reflect either a lack of understanding of the social dimensions of the Eucharist, or a lack of willingness to act on the social imperatives of the Eucharist.


Our celebration of the Eucharist therefore cannot be divorced from its social implications. The US Catholic Bishops in 2003 said that, the Eucharist challenges us “to seek a place at the table of life for all God’s children” The Gospel reading from Luke on the miracle of the multiplication of loaves underlines this social-justice dimension pointing to Christ’s compassion, and love that is renewed every day at Eucharistic celebration. By eating this heavenly food, we become one in Christ, sharing in his life, his strength, his purpose and mission.


So this is the message we can take from this Solemnity:

1- The Eucharist is a real memorial of the sacrifice Christ offered for the liberation of everything that oppresses human beings, but above all liberation from sin.

2- Our Sunday celebra-tion of the Eucharist cannot be divorced from the injustices around us because by its very nature, the Eucharist is a proclamation of communion and inclusiveness.

3- There is an essential relation between our sharing of the Eucharist each Sunday, and the food items we can share with those in need, the poor. Our Eucharistic faith is essentially linked to feeding the hungry. May God bless you. Amen.


Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Readings: Pro 8:22-31; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15

A life of communion to be lived and shared is one phrase that helps to focus on the central message of this Sunday. We are baptized in the name of the Triune God. Our Christian faith and life revolves around the Holy Trinity which is the center piece of our Christian faith. That is why we begin, and end all our prayers, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.

One of the greetings at the beginning of each Mass is an excellent synthesis of this truth “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you” (2 Cor. 13:14). The Responsorial Psalm today is a psalm of praise. “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth” (Ps 8).

The entire celebration therefore is like a continuous hymn of praise to the Triune God. In his earthly life, Jesus gradually reveals to his disciples the mystery of being totally united with the Father. One is reminded of the conversation between Jesus and Philip in St. John’s Gospel, where Philip wanted Jesus to show them the Father.

Jesus replied to him: “You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (In. 14:11). The conversation with Nicodemus in the Gospel this Sunday implies that love prompted the Father to send the Son, the bearer of the Holy Spirit, the source of life. This communion with God is the goal of Christian life and faith.

The Holy Trinity is not just a subject of theological speculation on the three divine persons. Rather, it is a life of communion; a life to be lived and shared. Therefore, we need to go beyond talking about love, communion and sharing and putting those ideas into practice by being instruments of reconciliation and compassion.

That is why God in creating us does not put us directly into heaven, because if He did so, we would mess life up there! Our life here on earth is a time to practice in concrete ways of sharing, healing and living in communion with the people God has given us.

Briefly we can sum up the message in three points:

1- The Most Holy Trinity is a model of life of communion to be lived and imitated;

2- The solemnity challenges us to be instruments of reconciliation, healing and compassion;

3- One way of living such a life starts with prayer together, for example in a family or in a Basic Christian Community, and overflows into the sharing of faith and healing with those, who may be wounded in our community. May God bless you. Amen.

 


Pentecost Sunday Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 12:3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” This Sunday, we affirm and cele-brate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. This is what we call Pentecost. The word Pentecost means “the fiftieth day.” Fifty days after the resurrection, Christ fulfills his promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples.

Pentecost is one of the most prominent, and colorful celebrations in the liturgical year. In the first reading, we relive the event of the first Pentecost. We are told that a noise like a strong driving wind came from the sky. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire resting on each of them.

The Holy Spirit works in our lives like fire: illuminating our minds to understand the truth; warming the coldness of our hearts and revitalizing our energy. The Holy Spirit is the breath of Christ on the apostles, so that His Spirit may work in them to continue His work through the Church. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the energy poured out by Christ upon the apostles, so that with renewed vigor, they be-come powerful witness of the message of Christ.

In the Second Reading, Paul deals with the issue of some members of the Corinthian com-munity, who considered themselves more important than others on account of their personal talents. Paul reminds them that God’s Spirit is the source of unity as well as of a wonderful di-versity of gifts for the growth of the community. Therefore, there is no place for inflated egos in the community of the baptized.

The Gospel from John gives a brief account of the Risen Lord Jesus offering the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and sending them. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit”, the Spirit of forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation.

Pentecost is therefore the crowning of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, who now fulfills his promise of sending the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Let us for a moment recall the words of the promise. “When the advocate comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who issues from the Father, he will be my witness.

And you too will be witnesses, be-cause you have been with me from the outset” (Jn. 15:26). There are those, who give witness today by living in the way that Jesus taught as the only way to live. Yet others give counter witness to Jesus by engaging in “the works of the flesh,” contrary to the “work of the Spirit.”

In the first reading we hear that everyone in Jerusalem heard the apostles, and disciples speaking in their own language. Biblical scholars interpret the apostles’ gift of speaking in languages understood by all present in terms of a prophetic sign of the worldwide mission, and proclamation of God’s kingdom in all known languages of the world today.

That is how powerful the Holy Spirit can be if we allow him into our lives. The power of the Holy Spirit is the greatest untapped power in the world. In the readings of today we see some of the things the Holy Spirit makes possible: communication in a language deeper than words; inner peace; transformation; forgiveness of sins; reconciliation, and unity between estranged people; and every worthwhile gift. When the Holy Spirit is in us, no other spirit can touch us or manipulate us. The Holy Spirit is therefore, as Pope Francis put it recently, “our traveling companion.”

So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- Pentecost reminds us that the Holy Spirit can lead to conversion and transformation into powerful witnesses.

2- God’s Spirit is the source of unity as well as a wonderful diversity of gifts for the growth of the whole Church;

3- On Pentecost day, Christ sends us through the Church into the world: our homes, families, neighborhoods and places of work, to bring God’s gift of compassion, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness for all. May God bless you. Amen.


 

Seventh Sunday of Easter. Year C.

Readings: Acts of the Apostles 7:55-60; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20; John 17:20-26.

When we celebrate this 7th Sunday, we have already celebrated the Ascension of the Lord. We begin to reflect on the incredible gift that Jesus has left us: The Holy Spirit. That Spirit is celebrated especially on Pentecost Sunday. In these days we are praying that the Holy Spirit will come on us in power and transform us.

The reading from the Acts of the Apostles reflect on the experience of Saint Stephen, the first of the martyrs. Stephen was able to see with faith the presence of Jesus with the Father in heaven. His faith had transformed St. Stephen that he had no fear of dying at all in his life. He knew the Lord and was willing to die and be with the Lord. He trusted completely.

The Book of Revelation teaches us about thirsting for God. We want to desire to be completely with God. This was reflected in the life of Saint Stephen in the first reading and must become strong in our lives. We want to life for Christ alone. Come, Lord Jesus!

The Gospel of John gives us the prayer of Jesus for us. Most importantly Jesus prays that the love that the Father has for Him may also be completely in us. This prayer can inspire us completely in our daily life.

The love that the Father has for the Son is infinite, and that is the love that Jesus has for us and wants us to have for one another. This love is only possible in us, who be-lieve by the grace of the Holy Spirit. No human achievement can come even close to such love. Only God Himself, working within us, can give such love.

The Good News of Jesus is always this: He loves us. The challenge is always this: let us love one another, because we know that we are loved by Him. This Sunday between the Ascension, and Pentecost is a time to listen deeply to God in our lives, and in the depths of our being.

Let us ask that we may be transformed entirely by the Holy Spirit, and know personally, and completely the love that God has for us.

The more we can be in contact with that love, the more that love can transform us, and help us live our daily lives in the Lord Jesus. Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful. May your love transform us, so that we may be the presence of Jesus for one another, and throughout our world. May God bless you. Amen.


5/19/19 – Fifth Sunday of Easter – The resurrection brings a certain freshness and vitality in living the commandment of love. That sentence sums up the good news proclaimed this Sunday. All three readings speak about the newness of life brought about by the resurrection of Jesus Christ and celebrated by the Church during the Easter Season.

The readings are therefore in tune with the freshness of this season. Practically every parish around the world experiences the joy and wonder of receiving new members into the faith through Baptism at Easter. Such an experience gives newness to the parish life, as the community welcomes new members, and accompanies them on their journey of faith.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas after their first missionary journey, give an account to the Church in Antioch of all that God had done with them, and how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Through their pastoral visits, Paul and Barnabas had put fresh life into the hearts of the newly baptized. But Paul is quick to remind members of the local Christian communities that they would have to suffer before entering the Kingdom of God.

The farewell discourse of Jesus in the Gospel brings newness and a challenge. “I give you a new commandment: love one another; as I have loved you, so you should love one another”. That sounds simple, and straight forward until we begin to realize what Jesus is really asking us to do.

In this passage, Jesus challenges us to live the new commandment, which implies the demand to follow his example, “as I have loved you”. That is the mark of a true, genuine disciple. Being Christian is not about knowing the faith or knowing what the catechism says. It is first, and foremost about relationship with Jesus, and with one another. Jesus expects us in this parish to love each other.

He did not ask his disciples to “like” each other. That would be very easy. Loving each other is much more demanding. It is the test by which you, and I will be judged by the world around us. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Such a love makes us more credible, more effective instruments of God’s transforming action that brings about a new heaven, and a new earth that John speaks about in the Book of Revelation. If we are credible witnesses, others will want to become Christian. Mahatma Gandhi was once asked why he did not want to become Christian. He said: “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- Our love for one another makes us more credible, more effective instruments of God’s transforming action;

2- If we truly love one another, then we will be able to convince others to join us, and God will then make
his dwelling among us;

3- Love for one another is the key to bringing about a new heaven, and a new earth prophesied in the second reading;

it is the key to wiping away all tears from those who suffer, and removing pain, and death from our midst. May God bless you. Amen


 

5/5/19 – Third Sunday of Easter. Year C. Readings: Acts 5:27-32, 40-41; Rev 5:11-14; Jn 21:1-19

Meal, mission, and martyrdom are the key words that sum up the central message of the readings of this Sunday. In the second reading, the risen Christ is seen in glory with the Father. He is the Lamb that was sacrificed, and who is worthy to be given power, glory, and blessing.

The whole creation is in worship before the Father, and the Son. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the news of the resurrection is spreading rapidly through the preaching of the apostles. They had been warned not to preach in the name of Jesus, but Peter, and John having defied those orders, are now before the Council of Elders for questioning. Peter’s answer is a determined conviction in the resurrection.

Like the apostles, we must be prepared to accept suffering (martyrdom) as we give our witness to the risen Lord. In the Gospel, Christ the risen Lord, appears once more to his disciples by the sea of Tiberias. They had gone out fishing but had caught nothing all night.

It was now in the morning. Suddenly someone on the shore tells them to throw the nets to the right of the boat in order to catch something. Having done that, they had such a great catch of fish that John the beloved disciple realizes that it is the Lord. To remove all doubts, Jesus invites them to breakfast on the shore.

There are three scenes in this account. The first scene is a meal that becomes like a second chance. This meal is a renewal of their resurrection faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, that renewal starts already at the miraculous catch of fish as John tells Peter, “It is the Lord.”

At the sharing of the meal, the disciples are convinced that it is the risen Lord. At this meal, all the memories of shared meals come back, and above all the sacrificial sacrifice on Calvary is very fresh indeed. They even remember how they denied him and ran away. Here was a second chance to renew their commitment to Jesus.

At every Sacrifice of the Mass every Sunday, we renew our commitment, and faith in Jesus Christ as we share his Sacrificial Meal that He pre-pares for us. Every Mass is indeed like a second chance. The second scene is the mission of Peter. Jesus asks Peter a threefold question, “Do you love me?” in order to reserve Peter’s threefold denial.

Here wonderful forgiveness takes place as Peter responds each time “I do Lord” and Jesus telling him each time “Feed my sheep.” In other words, Peter has to show that love in action; in service by feeding and caring for Christ’s flock. The third scene is about Peter’s death. Jesus foretells his martyrdom, which from the Greek means witness.

Peter, and all the disciples would indeed die as martyrs, because of their witness to Christ. So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The Sacrifice of the Mass, like the meal at the lake shore is second chance for our renewal and recommitment.

2- Through our baptism Christ challenges us like Peter to show our love for Christ by feeding, and nurturing Christ’s flock by our action, not mere words.

3- Like the disciples, we too are challenged to be committed witnesses to the point of dying for our faith. May God bless us. Amen.

 


4/28/18 – Second Sunday of Easter. Year C. Divine Mercy Sunday. Readings: Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19; Jn 20:19-31

Peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation are some of the key words underlying the message of this Sunday. The Second Sunday of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. The Gospel reading leads us to discover the meaning of God’s mercy. After Jesus rose from the dead, he appears to his disciples once again.

On that occasion Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.”

(Jn 20:22) In other words, Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit who would accompany them in their mission of bringing about peace, God’s mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.

The readings on this Sunday set the tone for the entire Easter season. Their purpose is to continue helping the newly baptized towards growth in the mys-tery of Christ who is now risen and in our midst. The readings therefore provide a meditation on the mystery of the resurrection and our own incorporation into that mystery through our initiation.

In the Gospel, the risen Lord appears again to the gathered apostles. On this occasion Jesus gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit the principle of peace, God’s mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. The focus of that event may be interpreted in terms Christ revealing God’s Divine Mercy.

What is Divine Mercy? From the diary of St. Faustina, a special devotion began spreading throughout the world in the 1930s. The message was nothing new, but a reminder of what the Church had always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show God’s mercy and forgiveness.

In the Divine Mercy devotion however, the message takes on a powerful new focus namely, calling people to a deeper understanding that God’s love and mercy is unlimited and available to everyone, especially those struggling with great sinfulness. The message of mercy is simple: God loves us all of us, no matter how great our sins when we repent.

God wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. The message of Divine Mercy is threefold:

1- Ask for God’s Mercy. God wants us to approach him in prayer constantly, humbly repenting of our sins and asking for the outpouring his mercy upon us and upon the whole world.

2- Be merciful to others. God wants us to receive his mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend merciful forgiveness to others just as he does to us.

3- Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the more we trust in Jesus Christ, the more we will receive his mercy. In brief, God’s name is Mercy!

This is the message we can take from this Second Sunday of Easter:

1- We affirm our faith in the Risen Lord who channels the greatest gift: the grace of God’s Divine Mercy, won for us by the blood of Christ on the Cross and the resurrection.

2- Since receiving God’s Mercy is not cheap, we are called to a pain-ful conversion experience, so that God’s mercy and compassion may touch us and transform us.

3- Just as the Father sends the risen Lord Jesus to share the grace of Divine Mercy with us, we too are sent as instruments of peace, God’s mercy and forgiveness to those who have been hurt and wounded, and so lead them to healing and reconciliation. Amen. May God bless you. always


Easter Sunday. Year C – Readings: Acts. 10:34-43; Col. 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

Easter Vigil cannot be separated from Easter Sunday, because what we celebrate this morning is the mystery proclaimed at the Easter Vigil, and it is important to see the two moments as continuous. Easter Vigil recalls and re-enacts the mystery of God’s salvation for us in the resurrection of Christ.

Easter Sunday not only focuses our attention on recalling the resurrection of Jesus and its impact on the first disciples, but also on the meaning of this event for our own lives and for our faith. Easter Sunday high-lights not only our faith in the resurrection, but we also joyfully proclaim, and witness our faith in the Risen Lord among us.

As a sign of our commitment to be witnesses of the resurrection, we reaffirm our baptismal promises at this celebration. Proclamation and witness are the two central themes running through this Easter Sunday readings. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter speaks about his own experience, and shares that experience with the listening crowds. Because of his experience of knowing with utter conviction that Jesus, who died on the Cross, is now alive, Peter is so filled with the joy of it that he simply must share that same joy with others, so that it can be theirs, too. Similarly the experience of the resurrection by Paul leads him to advice that we keep focused on the risen Christ, since Christ is our life. For Paul, we know that his experience of the Risen Lord brought a total revolution in his life, and gave him a total new vision of things, and especially of the meaning of Jesus’ life, and message.

In the Gospel, we have the experience of the empty tomb as a sign that Jesus is risen, He is not there. This first day of the week is full of emotions and commotion. The discovery of the empty tomb by Mary of Magdala leads to her running back to tell Peter, and John that the Lord’s body is not in the tomb. That experience may have been very disappointing, but it was also a clear message that Christ is risen as he had said. John, who writes the Gospel, tells us that he entered into the empty tomb, “he saw and he believed”.

He believed that the Lord is risen indeed. That experience strengthened the faith of the disciples in the resurrection, and completely transformed their lives. Renewed in their conviction, they were moved to witness to the mystery of the resurrection. The message we take on this Easter day is that we too like the disciples be moved to proclaim the resurrection of Christ in our lives to others.

May the risen Lord give us the grace that we may live as people deeply touched by our faith in the resurrection, and proclaim that “Christ in risen indeed, alleluia”. May God bless you. Amen


Palm Sunday. Year C – Readings: Is. 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Lk 22:14-23:56

It is Palm Sunday, and Jesus shows up in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem which becomes prophetic: the one who enters the city in triumph is the same one who is led out of the city by crowds to be crucified.

That is what we celebrate and commemorate on Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. This is where Jesus will accomplish the Paschal mystery through his passion, death, and resurrection. The Palm Sunday procession opens the Holy Week festivities towards Easter.

There are two sides of the Palm Sunday liturgy: the joyful mystery, and the sorrowful mystery, pointing to the resurrection. There is the joyful entry into Jerusalem, and the immanent passion, and death on the cross. The one who is joyfully acclaimed is the same one who is soon to be condemned by the crowd to die on the cross for our sins.

Thus, Jesus becomes a perfect model of what our journey of faith must finally involve, being humiliated, persecuted to the point of accepting death on the cross, so that God may raise us up on the last day. In the Passion of our Lord according to Luke, we encounter a drama of cosmic proportions with an interesting cast of characters, Jesus being at the center stage. Luke takes a different approach from any of the evangelists.

While Mark’s approach underlines the isolation of Jesus throughout, Matthew underlines a paradoxical royalty of Jesus (contradicted by his humility), and John taking the same line, but real royalty. Luke underlines the innocence of Jesus.

Thus, Jesus is a victim of the powers of evil, but goes to his death to fulfill the will of the Father. Luke portrays a certain serenity in Jesus’ death: “Father into your hands, I commend my spirit.” So, this is the message we can take from this Palm Sunday readings:

1- For Luke, the passion is not just a narrative, but a reality that must be interpreted for others as “Good News.” The passion narrative in Luke therefore underlines the mercy, com-passion, and the healing power of Jesus.

2- Thus Jesus goes to his death out of compassion for humanity: “daughters of Jerusa-lem weep not for me”; “Father forgive them” ; “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

3- Jesus does not go to death lonely, and abandoned unlike the passion story of Mark, but in Luke Jesus is accompanied by others who follow him on the way of the Cross. May we accompany Jesus in his suffering and death, so we may enter into his resurrection at Easter. Have a blessed Easter. Amen. Reflection from Fr. Andres


Fifth Sunday of Lent Year C – Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21; Phil 3:8-14; John 8:1-11

The readings of this Sunday lead us to meet the Lord who wipes away our sins. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading proclaims that God is about to do marvels surpassing the exodus. He will lead his people from the exile into their own land. Just as the Lord buried the humiliation of Egypt in the Red Sea, so will the Lord bury their past shame of Babylon.

There will be “no need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before”, for the Lord will transform the desert with water and highways and end the suffering of his people. Paul in the second reading takes up the image of the two exiles and applies them in his newly found life in Christ. This new life in Christ means living in conformity with Christ’s death and resurrection; it means leaving behind our slavery to sin in the hope of our own resurrection.

The story of the woman caught in adultery in the Gospel fits quite well with the common themes in the Gospel of John characterized by contrasting pairs: truth and falsehood, light and darkness, life and death, sin and grace. In fact, all these themes are compressed in the story.

A rabbi in explaining the best criterion one might use to determine that the night had ended said: “a new day has arrived when you can look at a human face and see a brother or a sister. If you are unable to see a brother or a sister in every human face, you are still in the darkness of
night”. Though the morning had come, accusers of the woman were still in darkness. They could not see that it was their brother and sister who had committed the sin.

For their own malicious purposes, they chose to humiliate the more vulnerable partner of the adultery by making
her stand alone in the public temple area.  Furthermore, the accusers are unable to see that Jesus is also their brother, sent by God to bring them into the light, a theme that comes
immediately after this story. In fact, the accusers have violated the God-given dignity of the woman by reducing her into an object that they use as a means to trap Jesus, in order to have a charge against him.

Their purpose in fact is to destroy Jesus under the pretext of the Mosaic Law. The compassion of Jesus in this encounter is striking. The lesson to the accusers is quite clear. Jesus knows the truth about their self-righteousness. “If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”.

None of them dares since they all depart one by one until the woman is left with Jesus, who makes it clear that she is not condemned. Her being acquitted means forgiveness, with the advice to sin no more. The attitude of Jesus in this episode is certainly one of real compassion.

Only two weeks to the end of the Lenten season, we are challenged to examine our own attitude towards sin. This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- Like the accusers of the woman in the Gospel, we tend to be insensitive to our spiritual weakness and failures.

2- The First Letter of John reminds us that “if we say ‘we are without sin’, we deceive ourselves.”

3- Let us pray that we too like the woman in the Gospel may be led to the truth about ourselves, and not only be touched by the compassion of Christ, but also to extend that compassion to others. May God bless you. Amen.


Fourth Sunday of Lent. Year C
Readings: Joshua 5:9, 10-12; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Extravagant outpouring of mercy, unconditional forgiveness, acceptance, rejection and prodigal God are some of the words that lead us into the central message of this Sunday. Once again, this Sunday the readings offer us an opportunity to reflect on the central Lenten theme of reconciliation. We celebrate the Lord, who welcomes sinners, and eats with them. But we are called a ministry of reconciliation.

After 40 years of pilgrimage, and desert experience, the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua, for the first time enter their promised Land. This is a sign of reconciliation, and in thanksgiving they joyfully celebrate the Passover, because the Lord has delivered them from the shame of slavery.

Against this background, Paul in the second reading reminds us that God reconciled us to himself through Christ, and “gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation.” Because we have experienced God’s reconciling love in Christ, we are sent as messengers to proclaim the same message of Christ, “be reconciled to God.” We are therefore called to heal the wounds of division, and alienation in community; to be peacemakers by bringing about reconciliation.

The parable of the Lost son (also known as prodigal), perhaps one of the most popular parables, continues the theme of reconciliation. The context is important. The Pharisees, and the Scribes began to complain, that Jesus welcomes sinners, and eats with them, and therefore Jesus tells them this story.

The story touches deep cords in the fiber of Christians, because it reminds them of real stories of family members, who left home, and headed for the bid cities, and disappeared there, and later returned home after many years completely broke, after squandering all they had. Alienation from home is a common experience in society today. So, the story is addressed to us of today.

The key to understanding the story in the Gospel is found in the elder son’s inability to understand his father’s forgiveness, and generosity towards the younger son, who turns up after squandering everything he had received. The elder son’s attitude towards his brother is one of rejection, while that of his father is one of total acceptance, and forgiveness, because his son was dead, and has come back to life; was lost, and is found.

The elder son could not understand how this looser could now be rewarded with a banquet. But let us track back to what led the young son to decide to get back home. We are told in the parable that he back to his senses. In other words, he had not realized until then the emptiness of what he was doing with himself in that pig-sty.

The awareness of his own empty self-indulgence finally leads the younger son to his senses, and decides to get back home, because he felt he could honestly face his father, and ask for forgiveness.

In every broken relationship that is always the first step: the awareness that I could say sorry, forgive me. The second step was to rise and go back home. The scene is quite emotional: “while he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” What follows thereafter is an act of total forgiveness, and reconciliation sealed with a banquet, and celebration.

It would seem that the Pharisees, and scribes understood they were being compared to the elder son, who rejects even his own brother m“this son of yours” language, as compared to the father’s welcoming language “this brother of yours.” On the one hand, we have a language of rejection, and on the other, a language of reconciliation.

There are three points that we could take as the message of this Sunday Readings:

1- The second reading reminds us that we are sent as ambassadors with the message of reconciliation to our sisters, and brothers, who may have fallen astray, and show them the way back home.

2-We too like Jesus must dare to be accused of welcoming, and eating with sinners, and unlike the elder son we must rejoice in their homecoming. 3- Is a prayer that we too may get the grace necessary to come to our senses during this Lenten season, and like the young son, return to our compassionate, and forgiving Father. May God bless you. Amen.


Third Sunday of Lent. Year C
Readings: Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; 1 Cor. 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9.

The two phrases, “God’s patience,” and “second chance” seem to capture best the message of this Sunday’s readings. The Lenten season is a second chance that God in his mercy, and compassion offers us, because God is patient with us.

When a calamitystruck the Jewish people such as the 400 years of slavery in Egypt, they saw that as being the consequence of their persisting unfaithfulness to God. As we hear from the first reading from Exodus, because God is patient and merciful, God gives the Jewish
people a second chance.

“I have observed the misery of my people. Indeed, I know their suffering, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, to the country of the Canaanites.” It is God’s initiative to come down and ask Moses to be his servant in delivering the people from slavery into freedom; from sin into faithfulness. God deals with us today in the same way he dealt with the Israelites in the Old Testament, when they strayed, and became unfaithful.

The Gospel is about sin, unfaithfulness, and its consequences. The disasters mentioned in the Gospel were seen by the listeners of Jesus as being the result of unrepentant sin, and unfaithfulness to God. But, after giving a clear warning on the consequences of sin, Jesus turns around, and tells a dramatic parable about a barren fig tree that was not productive for three years.

The way the gardener pleads with the owner portrays a patient, loving, and compassionate God, who gives us a second chance to repent. “Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it, and put some manure.” The Lenten season is like a second chance offered to us by God through the Church to dig around us and give all the help we need to convert. God “is compassion and love, slow to anger, and rich in mercy.”

So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The readings invite us to take our second chance more seriously as an opportune moment to repent and deepen our relationship with God.

2- Lent is a time we could deeply experience the mystery of God’s patience, love, and compassion through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

3- In this sense, Lent can be a “joyful season”, a moment to celebrate the holiness, the joy, and the happiness that Jesus shares with us as the loving, patient, and compassionate gardener. 4- It is my hope, and prayer that the Lord indeed give us the grace that everyday, during the coming week may be a gift, and a moment of spiritual growth; a moment of coming alive to being God’s new creation. May God bless you. Amen.


 

Second Sunday of Lent, Year C.
Readings: Gen 15:5-12, 17-18; Phil 3:17-4:1; Lk 9:28-36

Transformation and transfiguration into Christ’s glory are the key words that help us to focus on the central point of this Sunday readings. The readings focus on the mystery of God’s action that transforms us and gives us a glimpse of future glory. In the first reading, God reaches out to Abram and through Christ to people of all nations with a covenant of blessings and prosperity.

The covenant with Abram is sealed in the context of a sacrifice while Abram is transfigured in the presence of the Lord. “Now as the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep and terror seized him”. Abram puts his faith in the Lord, and therefore God affirms his covenant of future blessings and glory.

Paul in the second reading urges us to become deeply aware of the purpose of our life if we trust in God’s promises in Christ, because “Our homeland is in heaven”. We must therefore look forward to the time when Christ will transform our bodies into his own image.

Paul concludes by appealing that we remain faithful in the Lord to the end. This is because God “is not finished with us” but still working on us, transforming us into his own image.  In the Gospel, Luke links the account of the transfiguration to the paschal mystery of Christ. “Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face changed.

” Luke in this episode underlines the link between the passion and the transfiguration; the difficult journey towards Jerusalem and Jesus’ entry into glory through his death and resurrection. Jesus is transfigured because of his intimate relationship with the Father.

The transfiguration takes place as Jesus enters into prayer before the Father, to reflect on the purpose of his coming into the world and its ultimate fulfillment. The Gospel reminds us that we too must not forget our goal in this world, namely our own final transfiguration.

Before facing the final part of his journey towards Jerusalem, Jesus goes apart to pray. At that moment of intimate relationship with the Father, his divinity is revealed. So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- Like Abraham in the first reading, God takes us aside during this Lenten Season to speak to us, so that like Abraham our faith and trust in God may be deepened as God reveals himself to us.

2- As we continue our journey through Lent, Jesus invites us to accompany him on the mountain; a place where we too will be transformed into more effective instruments of his message

3- Like Jesus, on this mountain of prayer, we reflect and refocus on our journey, training our minds to focus on heavenly things, for “our citizenship is in heaven”. In other words, during this season of Lent we are invited to desire holiness so that Christ may transfigure us into his own image. May God bless you. Amen.

 


First Sunday of Lent. Year C – Readings: Dt 26:4-10; Rm 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13

On this First Sunday of Lent, the readings focus on keeping before us God’s story in our personal call to salvation through Baptism. Moses in the first reading exhorts the people on how God cared, and saved them from the oppression of Egypt, and led them into freedom and salvation “with his strong hand, and gave” them a land, flowing with milk and honey.

Moses shows the people that their story is linked to God’s story of salvation, and therefore the need to be focused on the Lord. In the Gospel, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, where the devil tries to tempt him to lose focus on his identity as God’s Son.

The three temptations by the devil, and Jesus’ resistance to them set an example of resolve to remain focused. A temptation is a moment during which the devil cleverly tries to confuse us by showing us the possibility of fulfilling our selfish human desires. In such moments, the devil shows us how easy it is to get exactly what we want.

He tells us, for example, “just click the mouse, and entertain your eyes, and mind on the Internet”! He persuades us to step out from ourselves to enjoy for a while! Looking at the first temptation, we notice that the devil knew that Jesus was hungry. So, the devil cleverly shows him that it is within his power to turn a stone into bread, in order to satisfy his hunger. However, Jesus refuses to be confused; he refuses to go ahead, for “Scripture says man does not live on bread alone”.

The three temptations give us an example on how Jesus remains firm and focused by submitting himself to the will of the Father. He never relinquishes his own identity with the Father. Jesus does not let his hunger dominate him to the extent of using his divine power to change a stone into bread, nor does He give in to the possibility of a short-cut to glory and fame. It would have been quite easy to jump from the parapet of the Temple. This would have given him quick publicity, for people to know immediately that he is indeed the Son of God. Jesus is able to resist, because he is totally united with the Father.

As we begin this Season of Lent, Jesus gives us an example on how we too could maintain our identity as his followers, and so overcome temptations. So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings: 1- If Jesus was so tested by the devil, you and I will certainly be targets of the devil’s temptations. 2- The readings therefore lead us to find the best way of arming ourselves for battle against the devil by remaining close to God as Jesus did. 3- Lent is therefore a time to align God’s story to our story; a time to deepen our identity and relationship with Jesus. May God bless you. Amen.

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C 

What makes Christians different and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace, treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated with loving-kindness and mercy. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us.

Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.

How can we possibly love those who cause us harm and ill-will? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who believe and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs.

Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy? Lord, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and set our heart free that nothing may make us lose our temper, ruffle our peace, take away our joy,nor make us bitter towards anyone. May God bless you. Amen.

 


Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C.
Sir 27:4-7, 1 Cor 15:54-58, Lk 6:39-45

It’s very easy to find fault with things and people. No matter how good a person, or a thing may be, it is easy to find some fault with them. And while it is easy to find faults in others, it is just as easy to overlook our own faults. Or as Jesus says in this Sunday Gospel: “We see the speck in another’s eye, but we don’t see the log in our own.”

And notice the difference, a speck compared to a log. A little
fault compared with a really big one. Why are we like that? Is it because we are naturally jealous? or envious? or basically negative and critical? and we have lived with our own faults for so many years that we have grown accustom to them, or perhaps have never known that we had the problem?

Several Sundays ago, one of the Mass readings was St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, in which St. Paul describes the Mystical Body of Christ. As baptized Christians, we are each one of us, a part of the same Mystical Body. And St. Paul makes note of how different each one of us is. “God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others.” It is a wonderful concept, that each of us born of Christ in Baptism is so intimately connected with each other that there is a unity.

But this is not a natural unity. By natural birth our fallen nature seems to oppose many areas of the Mystical Body. We tend not to see the good in others as much as we see the bad. We misjudge the actions of others very readily. We allow certain biases to arise that prevent us from ever being close to some people. In fact, there may be some individuals whose mere presence make us uncomfortable or even bristle. Such attitudes and reactions are certainly not compatible with the notion of the Mystical Body of Christ.
This Sunday Gospel follows immediately upon the beautiful explanation of unconditional love whereby we are to love even our enemies.

This kind of love is not natural. It can come only with the grace of God, and as a result of much work, and effort. But this is precisely the challenge of this Sunday Gospel for each one of us. To be so positive of all other people that we can accept them for who, and what they are, that we can overcome those occasions, when we tend to misjudge others, that we can stress the good in others, and
hope they can do the same for us. It sounds like a kind of Christian utopia, doesn’t it? But Christ came to change the work, to transform the world, according to the will of His Father. This Sunday Gospel is a challenge, a bold challenge for each one of us followers of Jesus. May God bless you. Amen.

 

 


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C.

Readings:1 JER 17:5-8; 1COR 15:12, 16-20; LK 6:17, 20-26 

This Sunday Gospel offers us a contrast to many of the messages we hear in our society today. If we were to accept uncritically the “get ahead” messages of our culture, we would think that happiness means having money, being successful, and having many possessions. In this way, we are not unlike the people, who heard Jesus teach on the day that he taught the Beatitudes. They too associated happiness with possessions and success.

The report of the Beatitudes in Luke’s Gospel, however, takes things one step further. Not only will we not find happiness through the “get ahead” messages of the world but relying upon these messages will cause us harm. The warnings spoken are particularly challenging, because they suggest that our way of life must change if we are to gain the lasting happiness of eternal life.

Talk together as a family about what society tells us makes a person successful. Make a list of the traits that you associate with a successful person. Then read together this Sunday Gospel. Reflect on Jesus’ description of blessedness in the Kingdom of God. Then consider the warnings.

Why are these surprising and challenging? What, then, is the measure of success in the Kingdom of God? Together write prayers of petition based on your discussion. Pray these prayers together, asking God to help your family seek the blessings of the Kingdom of God. May God bless you. Amen!


Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C Readings: Is 6:1-2, 3-8; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Lk 5:1-11

Do not be afraid; God transforms ordinary people and sends them on mission, as instruments of his kingdom. The readings of this Sunday help us to understand how God transforms and sends ordinary people as instruments of his kingdom despite their unworthiness. All three readings lead us to one theme, namely that vocation is clearly a gift from God and that it comes to us when we acknowledge our human weakness and sinfulness. In the first reading, Isaiah is overwhelmed before the holiness and glory of God and acknowledges his own unworthiness.

“Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips.” It is clear that in calling us God transforms us by his grace. That is the symbolism of the angel touching Isaiah’s mouth with live coal in order to assure him that his sin is taken away, his iniquity removed, and Isaiah then responds wholeheartedly to God’s call. “Here I am Lord, send me”.

In the second reading Paul is aware of having been called to preach the same Gospel preached by other apostles. He is also aware of his own unworthiness. I am “not fit to be called an apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am.”

The Gospel reading gives us another example of how God takes ordinary people and transforms them into instruments of his message. Peter is called from an ordinary fishing career, though unsuccessful the previous night. Like Isaiah, Peter too discovers his own unworthiness before Jesus who works a miraculous catch of fish.

Peter falls before Jesus saying, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Just as God dealt with Isaiah, Jesus helps Peter to overcome his own inadequacy and sinfulness. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men”. We find here an obvious reference to Peter’s future apostolic ministry of bringing people into the reign of God.

The positive response of Isaiah, Paul and Peter are examples of the ways in which God calls us out of different situations, but these examples also remind us of the risks involved. In the case of Peter and his companions, they are moved mysteriously to leave the security of their daily fishing career and be-come “fishers of men”, in other words, going out to proclaim God’s message of salvation to people submerged in the ocean of today’s world.

Three points sum up the message of this Sunday: 1- The readings help us to see how God takes ordinary people and transforms them into powerful instruments of his message. 2- Isaiah, Paul and Peter, serve as a model for not being afraid to confess our own unworthiness, knowing that God builds on that sincere confession to make us effective messengers. 3- The readings already anticipate the Lenten Season we are about to start, inviting us not only to listen attentively to God’s voice, but also to recognize our own unworthiness and sinfulness, so that God may transform us for the ministry He gives each of us. May God bless you.

 


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C
Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30

Speaking the truth in love, prophetic mission, opposition and rejection are some of the key words that help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. The readings focus our attention on our call to prophetic mission; a call to speak the truth in love.
Since the prophet is sent to speak the truth, his message risks opposition and rejection. The first reading is about the call of Jeremiah who is chosen by God even before he was born. “I have appointed you as prophet to the nations. Stand up and tell them all I command you”. Jeremiah is also warned that his mission will not be easy, because his message will certainly meet opposition.

The only reason why Jeremiah accepts such an unpopular mission is God’s love and faithfulness in the midst of persecution. “They will fight against you but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you”. This is a clear reminder that it is not
the eloquence of God’s messengers that count, but their clear witness to God’s love. Against this background we see the meaning of Paul’s message in the second reading. Without the kind of love that Paul speaks about, Jeremiah or any messenger of God will fail. Love that is patient and kind and never jealous; a love that is always ready to forgive, to trust, hope and endure whatever comes, is a powerful driving force. That love sustained Paul in his own ministry till martyrdom in Rome, and the same love inspired Jesus in His ministry. Even though rejected by his own people, Jesus endures all persecution to his own death and resurrection.

The Gospel passage is a clear reminder that when God’s messengers speak the truth in love, they risk rejection and opposition. Jesus in the Synagogue faces such rejection not because he is a local young man of Nazareth, but because his biblical message about God’s universal love and salvation contains a truth that the audience cannot deny, and that angers the religious and political leaders. He is immediately considered dangerous and subversive. “They sprung to their feet and hustled him out of the town…intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away”.

So, this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings. 1- The readings remind us that our call to discipleship like that of Jeremiah and Jesus Christ must be rooted in love. 2- The readings also assure us that God never abandons his faithful messengers when they speak the truth in love. 3- Just like Jeremiah, Jesus and Paul, we too are challenged to live our calling as Christians even if in doing so we may risk our comfort, rejection and even our lives. May God bless you. Amen.


The Epiphany of Our Lord. Year C. Readings: Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3,5-6; Mt 2:1-12

Appearance, manifestation, revelation of Christ to the nations. This Sunday we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek language “epiphaneia” which means “appearance”, “showing forth” or “manifestation”. So, we could say that we celebrate the manifestation of the Lord. The feast of the Epiphany commemorates the first appearance of Christ (the infant King) to the entire world, as Savior.

The first reading from Isaiah speaks about light, shining through the darkness, and the clouds, a wonderful image of describing what epiphany is trying to tell us about our Lord. Our own darkness, and the clouds of our lack of understanding, so often make it difficult for us to recognize in daily life the presence of God, in the Lord Jesus, in the Church, or in other people.

Psalm 72 focuses on the nations, coming to adore the Lord. “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you,” and then speaks of kings from foreign lands, bringing gifts to the Lord. The Psalm, in a sense, introduces the Gospel of today that recounts the story of the three wise kings from the East (also called the Magi), who represent all the nations.

These Magi come m, as seekers of the source of the light. The star is only a guide for them. On finding the source, the infant king, they are overjoyed, they confess, worship him, and offer him gifts.

In the preface of the Epiphany, we get a sense of the mystery we celebrate. “Today you revealed in Christ your eternal plan of salvation, and showed in him, as the light of all peoples”. The mystery of Christ’s birth, the mystery of the Incarnation, is therefore made known to all people all over the world without exception.

St. Paul in the second reading speaks about the inclusive nature of salvation in God’s plan. The central message of the Epiphany is that Jesus is revealed to us, as a light to the nations. The Magi go in search of this light guided by a star until they find the source of the light in Bethlehem. With them we too seek and recognize the child, who is born to be our Savior.

Like them, we too pay homage to Christ, and accept the light that Christ brings into our hearts. Since we are led to discover Christ, we are therefore called to go out, and share with others the Good News revealed to us.

Through our daily witness, in loving others, in forgiving them, in our faith, and compassion, in our courage and perseverance, may we be like the star that guides them in their journey of faith, to seek, and to discover Christ in their lives.

This is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- We are invited to recognize God’s light, God’s presence in our lives, and to let our hearts rejoice, and overflow, because we know that God is with us.

2- Consequently, we are called to go out, and share with others the Good News of Jesus Christ revealed to us; to share the light that Christ has given us. May God bless you always. Amen.

 


 

Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord. Year C –

Our Savior is about to be born again for us, bringing light into a dark world; bringing news of great joy into the world. In the town of David, a Savior has been born to us; he is Christ the Lord. We join Christians around the world in celebrating this joyful event of Christ in our midst, the Son of God, who assumes our human flesh, born of the Virgin Mary. When we receive a precious gift, we rejoice because it is a sign that someone loves us. God’s gift of himself to us in the Incarnation, is therefore clear evidence of God’s tremendous love, and goodness to us.

During the last 4 weeks of Advent, we have prepared ourselves for Christmas, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. “For there is a child born for us, a son is given to us”. That is why at Christmas, we rejoice, because the salvation promised us is now fulfilled; our Savior is born; a Savior who brings light into the world. “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone”.

The readings about the solemnity of Our Lord’s Nativity lead us into great joy, and gratitude before the mystery of the child who is born of Mary. On that first Christmas at Bethlehem, a great light shone in the darkness. Christ our Savior was born of Mary, and laid in a manger, “because there was no room for them in the inn”. The birth of Christ takes place in poor surroundings in order to attract the attention of the shepherds. Through Christ God’s grace is revealed to the poor.

By his birth in this world of darkness and confusion, the God who became man shows us his will to assume in himself the entire humanity; to raise it up and integrate it into God’s loving plan of salvation. The Gospel very carefully sets the tone both for the personal lifestyle of Jesus, and the purpose for which he has come, to share his peace, love, joy, and compassion. Like the shepherds who went with haste, and shared the good news, we Christians are also called to go with haste, and share the good news.

As Christians, we are entrusted by God with a call to give witness by virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, as a right and duty, both individually and collectively, to make the Divine message of salvation known, and accepted by all people throughout the world. This duty is
even more pressing when it is only through us as individual persons that some may ever come to hear the Gospel and know Jesus Christ.

So, this is the message we take from this Solemnity of Our Lord’s Nativity:

1- We are invited to go along with the shepherds to Bethlehem, and see what has happened there, according to message of the Angel, who brings news of great joy. “Today a Savior has been born” to us.

2- We are invited to meditate with Mary, and Joseph on the mystery of God’s presence, and to express our joy in the words of the Angel: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to people, who enjoy his favor”.

3- Christmas is about making room for Christ in our hearts; making room for all into our lives, especially the less fortunate. As we make room for Christ in our hearts, may Christ bring us great joy, peace, and happiness this Christmas, and throughout the coming Year. I wish you a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. May God bless you. Amen

 

 


Third Sunday of Advent Year C
Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18

Rejoice in the Lord always, shout for joy, the Lord is near. The key to unlock the central message this Sunday is found in the second reading where Paul urges us to rejoice always in the Lord. In addition, Paul tells us the reason for such happiness. He argues that “there is no need to worry” because the Lord is near. This Sunday we light the third candle of the Advent Wreath. Its desert rose color signifies rejoicing because we are now halfway towards the birth of our Savior.

That is why this Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday which means, “Rejoice!” I know some of you might say, “Well, Father, I don’t feel all that joyful.” But we rejoice because the one who is to come is already with us. In the first reading, the prophet Zephaniah offers us the same message. “Shout for joy”; rejoice and exult because the Lord has removed judgment against us; he has driven our enemies away. Zephaniah like Paul assures us not to worry because the Lord our God is our hope and source of joy.

In the Gospel from Luke, John the Baptist responds to a basic question his listeners are asking on how they are to prepare themselves to receive the gift of joy and peace in life. In John’s reply, the source of true joy and peace consists in a sharing of goods with those who are deprived; in honest stewardship of common goods; and in being content with what one possesses. This threefold demand is a fulfillment of Jesus’ call for more than just fairness, justice and equity. Jesus calls us to perfection just as our heavenly Father is perfect.

This is a message that many people need to hear today. You and I ask the same questions asked at the time of John the Baptist: “What must we do?” How do we find true joy? John the Baptist challenges us to seek ways of sharing the little God has given; ways of being honest and grateful for what God has given us. The main challenge in the readings of this Sunday touches all of us, but more particularly civil servants, political leaders and all guardians of law and order.

In the final analysis, the way to avoid worrying, the way to true joy and peace is found in genuine sharing, honesty and a just sharing of common goods for all. There is no better preparation for Christmas than a response in faith to the call of Jesus to perfection and holiness of life. In so doing we discover the Lord in our midst and are filled with joy and peace.

So this is the message we can take from this Sunday readings:

1- The best way to rejoice in the Lord; the way to true joy and peace is found in genuine sharing with those who have nothing.

2- Genuine peace and joy is found in a just stewardship of common goods and being
content with what God has given us.

3- Finally, we are called to walk along the way to perfection and holiness so that we will find true joy
and peace this Christmas. May God bless you always. Amen.

 


Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B
Readings: Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-14,18; Mark 13:24-32

As the Liturgical Year approaches the end, the Church directs out attention to the end of time. We might hear a lot of doom, and gloom in today’s readings. ,In the first reading from the Book of Daniel, we are given a preview of the final scene of human history, the end of time. We are told that the dead will be raised to life, and that each will face the final judgement.

The good will be rewarded with eternal life, and the bad with eternal punishment. In today’s world, it is very easy to be confused by ideas from all sorts of preachers about the end of the world. Some even give an exact date and time, and to make it even more exciting, they indicate a place where their followers should gather, for the Lord to take them up, the so-called rapture. Bur just God knows.

 In the Gospel, Jesus first speaks about the apocalyptic events that will cause the sun to be darkened, and the moon dimmed; with stars falling from the sky. Then speaks about the Son of Man “coming in clouds wit h great power and glory”. This obviously echoes the words in the First Reading, but here the Son of Man is even more victorious. All these catastrophic even ts are not the end, but a preparation for the coming of the Lord.

They are signs, that the end in near, but the message is that God is still in control of all He has created; for those who believe in God, God through the Church still proclaims a message of conversion, and repentance in readiness of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We must not be afraid or panic.  We must never forget the final sentence of this Sunday Gospel reading from Mark. “But of that day, or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”.

All we are told is that the end of this world as we know it will surely come. Jesus in the Gospel therefore helps us to read the signs that indicate the coming of the end. After that Christ will appear and send his angels to gather the just.

So, what is the message from this Sunday readings?

1- The readings challenge us to take note of the signs to the times, and to be always prepared, because the end is hidden from all of us.

2- What is sure is that in the end the Lord of all history will finally triumph over sin, and the powers of evil in all their manifestations in the world.

3- As followers of Christ therefore, we must heed the message of conversion, and repentance in readiness for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you always. Amen.

 


Thirty First Sunday Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Hebrews7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34

Love of God is inseparable from our love of neighbor. The readings of this Sunday focus our attention on our duty to love God, and our neighbor as ourselves. Our Christian vocation is compared to Israel’s response to God’s covenant of love in the first reading.

God loves Israel, and in return God demands that his people too give their undivided love, and commitment to God. The reading is a reminder that our love of God is not about going to Mass on Sunday, nor is it about saying our prayers. It is about being faithful to God in everything we do. In a sense we are called to daily faithfulness to the Lord our God.

In return God will bless us with long life, and prosperity according to his promises. The only condition is that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. In the Gospel Jesus quotes from Leviticus to reminds us that our love of God is inseparable from our love of neighbor. God makes us participants in his divine life on condition that we love our neighbor. When we live the two commandments, then like the scribe in the Gospel, we are not far from the kingdom of God. In other words, in loving others as we love ourselves, we clearly show that we love God whom we see in our neighbor.

The gospel passage follows upon the theme of commitment, and obedience introduced ,in the first reading. Here a learned scribe asks Jesus to identify the first commandment of the law. The reason for the question was that not all laws had the same weight and importance. Thus, the scribe genuinely wanted some clarity from Jesus. His answer was very faithful to the Jewish faith. Jesus does not offer one
commandment, but two: 1- the affirmation of faith found in the first reading (Deuteronomy 6:5); and 2- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (quoted from Leviticus 19:18).

Jesus in this passage teaches us that our communion with God is achieved through the two commandments love: love of God and love our neighbor. These are the two Commandments that summarize all the other Commandments of God. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that there are no other Commandments greater than
these, for they are more important than any offerings, or sacrifices. The failure in love of neighbor is dramatic in many parts of the world. We can say without doubt
that, apart from selfish economic reasons, the failure to love neighbors in many countries is clearly one of the major causes of conflict.

So, this is the message we take from this Sunday readings:

1-We are reminded that failure in love of neighbor is incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2-Our love of God is inseparable from our love of neighbor. 3- We are challenged to see the image, and likeness of God in the faces of those different us, no matter who
they are. Think about it. May God bless you always. Amen.



Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrew 5:1-6; Mark 10: 46-52

“Master, I want to see.” This Sunday we celebrate the presence of Christ, who opens our eyes to see the marvels God does for us in his Son Jesus Christ. The first reading underlines God’s special attention, and love for those on the margins of society. In this reading, the prophet Jeremiah foresee the coming deliverance of the Israelites from their Babylonian exile, and proclaims that good news with joy, and praise to
the Lord, who has delivered his people. The passage is a hymn of praise, and rejoicing, because of what God is about to do for his people.  The people sing aloud with gladness, displaying endless echoes of thanksgiving to God, who has delivered the weak, the lame, those with children, and those in labor.

These were the ones, who had received spiritual sight; the ones enabled to know, and understand the righteousness of the Lord, who saves. It is not by chance therefore that Jeremiah speaks of the Lord gathering from the ends of the world the lame, the blind, women with children, and those in labor. These are persons, who are not only afflicted, but often ignored, and even silenced in society. This prophecy serves as the context for the Gospel passage of this Sunday.

The Gospel passage is about the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus). Jesus leaves Jericho, the final part of his journey to Jerusalem. Mark uses this story to highlight the sharp contrast between the disciples, who so far have failed to understand him, and Bartimaeus, a poor beggar, who knows, and believes in Jesus, and begs for healing, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” The disciples
on the other hand try to silence him twice, when he calls upon Jesus to be healed. The point of the passage here is that the disciples too are blind. St. Mark places the restoration of sight to Bartimaeus by Jesus in this context.

Mark also wishes to underline the dimension of faith in Jesus’ final words, “Go your way, your faith has saved you”. Only after regaining his sight was the blind man able to follow Jesus on the way to Jerusalem.  We too like the disciples are sometimes spiritually blind to the demands of our calling, and commitment. Therefore, like Bartimaeus we need to beg the Lord to heal our blindness. The Lord is always
there asking us the same question, “What do you want me to do for you?” If we are honest about our own blindness, the Lord will certainly heal us. Like the blind man, our prayer this coming week should be, “Master, I want to see”.

If we wish to see Jesus, we have to draw closer, and ask him in faith to help us, that we may be able to see him clearly; that we may regain our lost vision, and purpose in our calling as Christians. When we receive that new sight, we will be able, like Bartimaeus, to choose to turn from our old ways, and faithfully follow Jesus Christ, who is the way the truth, and the light.

So this is the message we take from this Sunday readings: 1- God’s special attention, and love for those on the margins of society is first of all good news, and at the same time a challenge to all of us to be more open to serve; 2- The Gospel reading sets an example in the healing of Bartimaeus as a model for social ministry; 3- During this Year of Faith, we are challenged to care, and bring hope to those by the way side blind, waiting for someone to restore their sight, and vision in life; to recover their human dignity, and assume a normal life. May God bless you. Amen.


August 26, 2018 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The Gospel passage this Sunday, the final section on Jesus’ teaching on the bread of life, ends with a dramatic challenge to
make a choice. Indeed, all three readings speak about the necessity of making choices.

Our life progresses on a path where we have to make choices as we go. Some choices are critical to survival, and others not so serious. We choose to believe in persons, in institutions, in values and causes. All our real and good relationships, our good commitments arise out of such choices. This process of faith invariably involves a certain amount of risk.

Our faith too is a matter of choice. The problem is that because we have been brought up in a society that believes in freedom of choice, we tend to consider even what the
Church teaches in terms of choice. What the Church teaches about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not a matter of choice. It is a teaching to be accepted in faith.
Some Catholics would want to dilute the faith in such a way that they can accept it. Others would not want the Church to speak on certain moral issues, questions that require a
leap of faith to accept in freedom what the Church teaches.

In the first reading, the people challenge Joshua on questions of faith, and Joshua places a clear option before them. “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide
today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. After Joshua reminded the people of all that the Lord had done for them, the people said, “we also will serve the Lord”. In the second reading, Paul presents a more familiar form of choice making. He
speaks of the decision made by engaged couples preparing for marriage. They mustchoose one partner, and that choice is sealed at the marriage covenant in the Church.

Paul uses this image to describe the loving relationship between Christ and the Church, in order to underline the choice we make at Baptism to serve Christ. At the end of
a lengthy discourse on the bread of life, some followers of Jesus found the teaching difficult, and they no longer went with him. Jesus then turned to the Twelve and said, “Do you
also want to leave?” Obviously, Jesus loved them so much that he wanted to respect their freedom of choice. They in turn would respond in love and freedom through Peter.

“Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God”. We live in a world full of life
choices and a plurality of options. But when we come to matters of faith, God loves us so much that He wants us to choose in freedom to do His will. This is the message we can take from these Sunday’s readings

1- Like the Israelites, and the disciples of Jesus, you and I are faced with the same challenge of making vital decisionsin our faith commitments.

2- Like the disciples of Jesus, the options for us are narrowed down to either accepting his teaching in faith or going away;

3- This Sunday we are challenged to affirm with Joshua, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Similarly, we are challenged to profess our faith with Peter, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” May God bless us always. Amen.


August 19, 2018 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Jesus is the living bread that gives eternal life. The readings of this Sunday focus our attention on the Eucharist as “the bread of
life” in terms of wisdom. The Book of Proverbs foreshadows Jesus as the wisdom who prepares a banquet and invites guests to the feast. “Come, eat of my food, and drink of my wine I have mixed!” This is certainly a prelude to the high point from John’s discourse in chapter sixth on the bread of life. In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus repeats his teaching of last Sunday: “I am the living bread that came from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

This was one of Jesus’ most difficult teaching. While Jesus was speaking on the level of spiritual realities, the crowds were still on the physical level, and could not get the point. That is why they complained and asked: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Was this wisdom or madness? Was it pure nonsense or truth? Our faith takes us to the spiritual level, leading us to realize that Jesus’ teaching is profound wisdom and the absolute truth. In the Gospel, Jesus uses several arguments to convince his audience: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” The bread of life discourse has to be seen in the light of the resurrection.

Therefore, we find here the essential relationship between Eucharistic faith and resurrection faith. How clearer could Jesus be in his teaching? What Jesus says is “not” a figure of speech, but direct language of flesh and blood. The bread that He gives us is indeed his flesh. The blood that he gives us is indeed his blood. At the end of the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus shows us that we enter into communion
with him when we eat his flesh and drink his blood.

By eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood, we become totally identified with his very person, his vision of life, his values, and with his mission to build the Kingdom of God. Here again Jesus brings in the concept of the total identity with his self-sacrifice on the Cross, where he totally surrenders his flesh and blood to the Father. This is what Paul calls the foolishness of the Cross, but we
must let the wisdom of faith guide our hearts and minds this Sunday. Similarly, guided by the Spirit of wisdom, we are led to recognize the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and we express our thanksgiving for so great a gift. What more can we ask the Lord for such an intimate act of love for us?

So the message we take this Sunday is;

1) The readings invite us to let the wisdom of faith guide our hearts and minds, leading us to deepen our faith in the real and enduring presence of Jesus in the Eucharist;

2) We believe that by eating the flesh of Jesus and by drinking his blood, we become totally identified with and in communion with his very person, vision and mission; we become what weeat.

3) We believe that through this communion we share in the Trinitarian life of communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. May God bless us always. Amen.

 

 


May 20, 2018 – Pentecost Sunday

Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The season of Easter concludes with today’s celebration, the feast of Pentecost. On Pentecost we celebrate  the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles, today’s first reading.

The account in today’s Gospel, John 20:19-23, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. Yet the event in John’s Gospel takes place on Easter Sunday. There is no need to try to reconcile these two accounts. It is to we know that after his death, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send to his disciples a helper, an Advocate, who would enable them to be his witnesses throughout the world.

In the context of the feast of Pentecost, John 20:19-23 reminds us about the integral connection between the gifts of peace and forgiveness and the action of the Holy Spirit. Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace.

Jesus then commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathes the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and sends them to continue his work of reconciliation through the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus’ act of breathing the Holy Spirit upon the apostles mirrors God’s act of breathing life into Adam. In fact, both the Greek and Hebrew words for “spirit” can also be translated as “breath.” This Gospel reminds us that the Church is called to be a reconciling presence in the world.

 The reconciling presence of Christ is celebrated in the Church’s sacramental life. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are cleansed of sin and become a new creation in Christ. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Church celebrates the mercy of God through the forgiveness of sins. This reconciling presence is also to be a way of life for Christians. In situations of conflict, we are to be agents of peace and harmony among people.

 


May 13, 2018 Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

Jesus prays for his disciples. Background on the Gospel Reading

On the seventh Sunday of Easter, we always read from the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel. This chapter of John’s Gospel comes at the conclusion of Jesus’ farewell discourse
delivered to the disciples at the Last Supper.

 This entire chapter is a prayer by Jesus, commending himself to the Father and expressing his care and concern for his disciples. At the end of this prayer, Jesus and his disciples depart for the garden, and Jesus is arrested. Several important themes appear in this prayer. First, Jesus’ prayer reaffirms the complete union between himself and the Father.

Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus has been presented as the one who preexisted with the Father and as the one sent by the Father to do his work on earth. In today’s reading, we hear Jesus include all his disciples in this union with the Father. We are reminded that Christ is the source of Christian unity.

Through Christ, we are united with one another and with God Our Father. In this prayer, Jesus describes part of his mission in the language of protection. He has protected those who were given to him by the Father. In this we hear echoes of the dualism that is reflected throughout John’s Gospel.

Beginning with the opening chapter, the Evangelist John has presented Jesus’ mission on earth in the context of a cosmic struggle between good and evil, represented by light and darkness. In Jesus’ presence, his disciples have been protected from Satan. Now that Jesus is returning to the Father, he prays that his disciples will continue to be protected from the evil one. We can’t help but note here the echoes of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples,
the Lord’s Prayer.

We also see in this chapter the distinction found in John’s Gospel between the world and the disciples. The disciples are in the world, but they do not belong to the world. Yet like Jesus, they are sent into the world for the world’s salvation. As Jesus’ teaching and ministry was a
source of consternation for some, Jesus knows that the world may not accept his disciples with open arms. Again, we hear echoes of John’s theme that salvation is worked out
through the cosmic battle between light and darkness.

The world, according to John, prefers the darkness. Yet the light will not be overcome by the darkness. Reading this prayer of Jesus during the Easter Season, through the lens of his Resurrection, we know that the light of Christ has overcome the darkness of sin and death in our world. In the opening line of this prayer, we hear Jesus pray that his disciples will be kept in the name that he was given
by God. We know that the salvation is given to us in the name of Jesus, and that his name— “God saves”—announces his mission on our behalf.

 


May 6, 2018 Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

 

Today’s Gospel follows immediately after the Gospel proclaimed last week, in which Jesus taught that he was the vine and that his disciples were the branches. In the example of the vine and the branches, we

learned that our union with Jesus will lead to fruitful service. Today’s reading extends this teaching to describe the kind of service that Christians are called upon to offer to others.

When John wrote this Gospel, his community was influenced by a set of religious beliefs called Gnosticism. It appears that one of John’s intentions was to distinguish Christian belief from the beliefs held by

the Gnostics. Evidence of this can be found in today’s Gospel.  One of the tenets of Gnostic teaching was the importance of knowledge, orgnosis, as the determining aspect of faith.

We read today’s Gospel as a response to this teaching. In John’s Gospel, we hear Jesus affirm that he is known by the Father and that his disciples will know the Father by knowing Jesus. In this passage, however, Jesus reminds his disciples that this knowledge is to be expressed in love. Those who know Jesus well—and Jesus says that his disciples do know him—will love one another. Knowledge leads to love, which leads to action. John reminds his community that Jesus taught that love is the sign of a truedisciple and, thus, a true Christian. Even more, a true disciple shows a particular kind of love, sacrificial love.

In the Greek, there are two words for love that are used in this passage. The first is agape. The second is philia. The first word is most often used to describe love for other persons and for God. It is understood as the highest and most perfect kind of love. The second word is used to describe the affection of friendship.

In this context, John appears to use these words as synonyms. The root of the Greek word for friend comes from this second term for love, philia. By using this word, Jesus transforms the terms of his relationship with his disciples and redefines for them their relationship with God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, faith in God made one a servant of God.

Here Jesus teaches that his relationship to his disciples is based on friendship, not servitude.  Another aspect of Gnostic belief taught that a believer was an elect person, chosen and setapart from the world. John reminds his community that Jesus also taught that a disciple is one who had been chosen—one who had been chosen by Jesus. To be chosen by Jesus, however, is not to be set apart from the world. Instead, to be chosen by Jesus is to be sent to serve the world as he did. The disciples of Jesus were chosen and were sent into the world to bear fruit by serving others, by sacrificing for others, in love.

This reading, like last week’s, is part of Jesus’ Last Supper discourse. In the context of John’s Gospel, these words are spoken before Jesus’ Crucifixion.

We read his instruction to the disciples in light of his death and Resurrection. We know that Jesus himself gives us the greatest example of the kind of love and service that he teaches to his disciples. He has, in fact, laid down his life for his friends, for his disciples, and for us. Through his death and Resurrection, we have received the grace to love others as Jesus has commanded.

 


April 1, 2018 – Easter Sunday/Resurrection of the Lord Reflection for Easter Sunday Resurrection of the Lord  — For inspiration on this Easter day, let us turn to the award-winning and gifted writer Walter Wangerin, Jr. and his story titled “The Ragman.” Early one Friday morning, even, before dawn, I noticed a young man, handsome and strong, walking through the alleys of our city. As he walked, he pulled a cart filled with bright new clothes; in a clear tenor voice, he called out, “Rags! Rags! New rags for old. I’ll take your tired rags.”

Now, this is certainly a wonder I thought to myself for the man stood 6 feet 4 inches, and his arms were like tree limbs, hard and muscular, and his eyes flashed intelligence. Surely, he could have found a better job than being a ragman in the inner city.

I followed him, driven by curiosity and I was not disappointed. Soon the Ragman came upon a woman sitting on her back porch sobbing into a handkerchief, sighing and shedding a thousand tears. Her shoulders shook; her heart was breaking.” Give me your rag,” said the Ragman with a gentle voice, “and I’ll give you another.” He slipped the handkerchief from her eyes and laid across her palm a linen cloth so clean and new that it shone.

She blinked a silent thanks, and, as he began to pull his cart again, the Ragman did a strange thing. He put her stained handkerchief to his own face and began to weep and sob as grievously as the woman had done. Yet she was left without a tear. Drawn like a child who cannot turn away from mystery, I continued to follow the sobbing Ragman.

“Rags, rags, new rags for old.” Soon he came upon a girl whose head was wrapped in a bloody bandage. A single line of blood ran down her cheek. With gentle compassion, the Ragman offered the girl a beautiful yellow hat from his cart. “Give me your rags”, he said. “and I will give you mine.”

The child was still while the Ragman loosened her bandage and tied it around his own head. When he put the hat on hers, I gasped aloud at what I saw, for with the bandage went the wound and on his forehead a line of blood began to form—it was his own! “Rags! Rags! I take old rags” cried the sobbing, bleeding, strong, intelligent Ragman as he picked up his pace.

“Are you going to work?” He asked a man leaning against at telephone pole. The man shook his head; the Ragman pressed him, “Do you have a job?” “Are you crazy?” sneered the man, and with that he opened his jacket to reveal that he had no arm.

“So,” said the Ragman, “give me your jacket and I’ll give you mine.” The one-armed man took off his jacket. So did the Ragman, and I trembled at what I saw, for the Ragman’s arm stayed in the sleeve and when the other put it on, he had two good arms, but the Ragman only one.

“Go to work,” he said, with quiet authority in his voice. After that, the Ragman found a drunk, lying unconscious beneath an army blanket; he was old, wizened and sick. The Ragman took the blanket and wrapped it around himself, but for the drunk he left new clothes. At this point, I had to run to keep up with the Ragman. Though weeping uncontrollably and bleeding, pulling his cart with one arm and stumbling from drunkenness, he went on with terrible speed.

It pained me to see the change in this man, yet I kept following. Finally, he came to a landfill. He climbed up a hill of garbage and with tormented labor, he cleared a little space. Then he sighed and lay down. He pillowed his head on the jacket and the handkerchief. He covered his bones with the army blanket… and then, he died. How I cried to witness that death.

I slumped in a junked car and wailed as one who has no hope because I had come to love the Ragman. I wore myself out with sadness and fell asleep. I slept through Friday night and Saturday, too. But then, on Sunday, I was jolted awake by a violent light. Light—pure, hard, demanding light slammed against my sleeping face and I blinked and looked and then I saw him.

There was the Ragman folding the blanket most carefully, a scar on his forehead but alive! And besides that he glowed with health and wholeness. There was no sign of sorrow or of age and all the rags he had gathered shined with cleanliness. Well, I lowered my head, and trembled for all I had seen.

I got myself out of the junk car and walked to the Ragman. I told him my name with shame, for I was a sorry figure next to him. Then I stripped myself of everything and said to him with yearning in my tone, “Clothe me. Make me new again!” He dressed me, my Lord. He put new rags on me and I am a wonder beside him. The Ragman! The Ragman! The Christ! Wangerin’s story tells well the meaning of the mystery that we enter into anew today.

The Christ, the Ragman, has indeed given us new rags for old. He has taken upon himself the filthy rags of our weaknesses, failing and sinfulness and in his dying and rising, he has clothed us with the new clothes of our salvation, i.e., with grace, holiness, justice, peace, light and life.

In these clothes, in these gifts, is the cause of our joy and the reason for our being. We are, each of us, a wonder beside him. The Ragman! The Savior! The Christ! An Easter, filled with Blessings for you and your loved ones.


 

March 25, 2018 – Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion —  The cross was a cruel, barbaric way to die. Michael Card, in his book A Violent Grace, describes it in gruesome detail how determined the Romans were in their desire to make an example of those who had offended the state.

First of all the condemned man was flogged. He could die from that alone. The flogging was brutal. The flesh would hang from the condemned man’s back. Flogging was followed by crucifixion. While the flesh was still raw, the condemned man was nailed to the wood.

“Some scholars think that Jesus may have been flogged twice,” says Michael Card. “The accounts of both Luke and John hint at it. Medical doctors who have studied the accounts of the crucifixion have concluded that severe multiple beatings would account for the fact that Jesus died after only six hours on the cross, while others were known to have hung on crosses for as long as nine days before dying from exhaustion and loss of blood.”

There was the flogging and then the nails driven into his feet and hands. It was a cruel, inhumane way to die. Even today many are offended by the cross. As one theologian has said, “Any church or any preachers who keeps preaching on the cross is not going to grow, because in our culture what we are interested in is success, not sacrifice.”

A number or years ago, a pastor in San Francisco stood up before his congregation and said, “The cross has been the symbol of sacrifice and the acceptance of pain and suffering, and we are tired of it. We are not going to be a part of this anymore.” He then walked over and tore down the cross from the church.

Churches are being built today with no cross in sight. The blood, broken body, the sacred sacrifice are offensive to modern sensibilities. And yet you and I still cling to this symbol of suffering and shame. That is why we are here for this Good Friday service. We believe the cross still has saving power.

Sen. John McCain discovered the power of this love as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Here is how he put it, “I was tied in torture ropes by my tormentors and left alone in an empty room to suffer through the night.

 

Later in the evening, a guard I had never spoken to entered the room and silently loosed the ropes to relieve my suffering. Just before morning, the same guard came back and re-tightened the ropes before his less humanitarian comrades returned. He never said a word to me. Some months later on Christmas morning, as I stood alone in the prison courtyard, the same guard walked up to me and stood next to me for a few moments.

Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly there a minute or two, venerating the cross, until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.”

It was a small gesture, but McCain said it was the best Christmas present that he could have received in that prison camp.

There is something about the cross that speaks to us of God’s love. The challenge to each of us is to respond in faith to that love, to cast off the sin that so easily besets us, and to give our lives to him as he gave his life for us.

Enough said. Have a prayerful Holy Week.


March 18, 2018 – Fifth Sunday of Lent — Some years ago, in a remote area of the Arizona Desert, there was a place of retreat called “Nada.” (Which means “nothing” in Spanish).

The founders of “Nada” told the retreatants that in order to benefit from their wilderness experience they needed to acknowledge their total dependence on God, that, apart from God, they are nothing. On one occasion, a group of college students reserved five hermitages at Nada for a month.

When the month was over, the five college students said that the first week of silence was a crisis week for them. Somehow they had been conditioned to believe that they couldn’t live without noise. The stereo had to be on every second. And then there was the television and the telephone ringing, and roaring car motors, and all the rest.

Those college students said that the first week of silence was like going “cold turkey” off some addiction. But all of them said that before the month was over, they were experiencing the healing and the life-enrichment that comes when, in the silence, you hear the voice of God speaking to your heart.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Be still and come out of the wilderness leaning on the Lord. In Death Valley, there is a place known as Dante’s View. From this location you can look down into the lowest spot in the United States, a depression in the earth two hundred feet below see level called Black Water.

But from Dante’s View you can also look up to the highest peak in the United States, Mt. Whitney, rising to a height of 14,500 feet. In one direction you move to the lowest spot in the United States, in the other, to the highest. From Dante’s View, only the traveler can decide which he or she will take.
BE STILL AND LISTEN TO THE WORD OF GOD!

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