Saturday, May 30, 2015
Now that the entire Easter Season has concluded (last Sunday with the Feast of Pentecost), the Church today looks back on the past seven months. From the first Sunday of Advent until last Sunday in our liturgies we have seen dramatized and played out for us once again for our consideration the work of the Most Blessed Trinity: the love of God the Father, who sent the Son into the world to be born among us, and to live and die and rise for our salvation: for the forgiveness of our sins!
And then, in order to preserve the life of the Son on earth for all ages: the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit: to “blow where he wills,” to inform and guide and direct the community of believers in the Divine Son and his eternal Father, in their personal lives of conversion from the world, and indeed the transformation of the whole world into the glorious kingdom of God, as it is meant to be transfigured and transformed.
And so this is what we celebrate today the activity of the Trinity on our behalf!
But we also need to back up even further and look at this Triune God as He is in Himself: for if this Trinity of Persons comes to dwell within us by our initiation into the Church by Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist: who is this Trinity? who is God in Himself?
Though it can easily be stated: it cannot ever in this life or even in the next be fully understood: the mystery of God in his Threefold Oneness (that will always remain a mystery) may inadequately be described as this: “the uncreated God, who simply is, loves himself, sees himself, and gives himself infinitely to an image of himself who is the Word, a second Person; in effect God utters one Word and that word is WORD, it is Son, it is everything that the Father is; and then in an ongoing process the Son and his Father look at one another and they sigh: they breath out a breath of love for one another: and that breath of love is the Holy Spirit: the created manifestation of the love of the Father and the Son!
This is God’s own life that He lives all in Himself!” And it is this God, Three Persons bound together with a chain of love into One Being, who entirely at their own discretion chose to invite other persons to enter into their life. God did not have to create anything because he needs nothing! But since he is not only an infinite dynamic of loving, he is also goodness itself, and beauty and truth; and so he would just naturally want to go outside himself and share himself with others who are in some sense like him: that is why he created the entire universe as a backdrop and then mankind to be the highest form of his earthly creatures – creating them persons (in his image); giving them intellect and free will so that they could freely choose to fall in love with him!
The rest is up to us: for those who have already or who want to fall in love with God – he has provided the fullness of truth, beauty, goodness and love in the Catholic Church – though lesser degrees exist outside of it – with its Word, with its Sacraments, with its Works of Charity done out of love for him; the Church invites everyone, everywhere to accept God’s call to a very intimate life of love with him and everyone else who likewise believes.
In summary: together we are all – all on the face of the earth – meant to cry out: Abba, Father; Jesus, Lord; Spirit, Comforter!
May it be so today and every day for more and more people until the Kingdom of God emerges fully in all its majesty, beauty and peacefulness here and hereafter!
at May 30, 2015
Friday, May 29, 2015
We have two power packed readings at mass today. In the first reading from the Book of Sirach we see how God encourages all to be “godly people” – so that they and their descendants may be blessed and all they have need of. Those who do God’s will are the ones who are blessed to the hundredth generation.
The gospel passage from St. Mark seems to be a compilation of several pointed lessons. Jesus first curses a fig tree which has green leaves but no fruit (because it was not yet time for fruit) – what was going on there? At the time, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to be killed by his own people – maybe he was just having a bad day, and was reflecting in that tree the barrenness of the fruit that should have been there if the tree was more properly cultivated and fertilized with prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving. Later in the passage he connects faith (which can move mountains from their very spot to be cast into the sea – through accompanying prayer) with asking for what we need – asking for what God wants for us – asking for what the Holy Spirit will surely give us – it will be done immediately. It is not what we want that God gives us – but what he already knows what is best for us that counts.
Now the caveat he puts on this faith/prayer deal is that we must be in the “state of grace” – the “state of being reconciled with our brothers and sisters” – we must “forgive anyone against whom we have a grievance, so that our heavenly Father may in turn forgive our own transgressions.”
Yes, these are power packed readings – giving us much to think about today – may we pause often during the day and do just that. Any day that does not include in it pausing to reflect on what was contemplated in the Liturgy of the Word at mass that day is pretty much a wasted day – a day that runs out of steam, and quality and effectiveness to do really good works.
Let us not waste our energies – God has chosen us from the world to go and bear fig fruit that will last – may we not let him down. Amen.
at May 29, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015
We have two beautiful readings today at this mass. In the first reading from the Book of Sirach we see how it is God’s will that his glory fills all the earth; and not only his glory, but his will and his ways. When “nothing is added nor taken away” from that will, then everything works out amazingly well. How beautiful are all God’s works! It is up to us to stay tuned in to his will so that we get all the benefits thereof.
And the capital manifestation of his will is in the duty of our vocations that he gives us – whether in the religious or secular state. When we place God’s will and way first – and all that that entails – then all will go peacefully well.
The gospel passage is about the blind man who calls after Jesus, so to obtain a cure of his blindness. Jesus engages the man, and encourages him to speak up, name his request, and then he promptly and lovingly gives the man what he desires: clear vision and sight. This passage can also be applied to all who are spiritually blind, or who become blind in time due to “spiritual cataracts and glaucoma” – fervent courageous pray to the Lord Jesus can bring about the same result: clear spiritual vision and insight: and this is much more important than any amount of physical sightedness.
May we today cry out with persistence and joy to God, who can give us what we need at each moment – if we keep all of our spiritual priorities in line – because this is his first concern for us as his children.
I am the light of the word, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.
at May 28, 2015
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
In the name of Jesus many mighty deeds can indeed be done – and these should not be astonishing to behold for anyone in the world. Those having faith take delight in them because they confirm this belief, those without faith have reason to pause and consider the true origin and source of the work: can it be anything other than the powerful “finger of God” at work, which is none other than the Holy Spirit himself?
God can do whatever he wants, to whomever he wants, whenever he wants: and he loves to do it as the result of confident, trustful prayer for such and such an intention! Our prayers are always heard by God, and always answered in his way and time – which, of course, may be different than our own plans.
As difficult as it may seem, I must begin to trust fully in the Divine Artist who can see the entire canvas he is painting with the interactions he has with all his people and family everywhere in the world.
The first reading today from the great book of Sirach tells us that those who seek for wisdom, seek life (actually they are seeking Jesus who is wisdom and life, who would come centuries later), but to possess her takes discipline and trust: God entrusts to us his secrets for right living – but then we must do what it entails or we will lose the wisdom, lose the source, lose the life. May we not abandon wisdom today: let us encounter Jesus, encounter the secrets he has to share with us, and put his counsel into practice immediately! Why wait?
O Lord, great peace have they who love your law.
at May 27, 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
St Philip Neri was one of the noble line of saints raised up in the sixteenth century to console and bless His Church. After a pious childhood, the Spirit led Philip away from Florence and showed him the world that he might freely renounce it, led him to Rome, molded him in mind and heart and will, and then as by a second Pentecost, came down in visible form and filled his soul with light and peace and joy.
He wanted to go to India, but God wanted him to stay rather in Rome. There, he went on simply from day to day, drawing souls to Jesus, showing them acts of charity, and binding them together by cheerful devotions, and thus the Oratory he founded grew up and all Rome was pervaded and transformed by its spirit. His life was a continuous miracle, he was nearly every day in a state of ecstasy. He read the hearts of men, foretold the future, and knew their eternal destiny. His touch gave health of body, his very look called souls in trouble and drove away temptations. He was light-hearted, genial and irresistibly winning: neither insult nor wrong could dim the brightness of his joy.
Philip died in his eightieth year, in 1595, and bears the grand title: Apostle of Rome.
The gospel passage today speaks of Jesus’ desire for his followers to be united in love of him, his Father and one another. He calls each of us, in some way, to manifest that love, as he did St. Philip Neri. It is easy when we get out of the way and let the Spirit lead us, wherever he would have us be, fill us with his essence of joy, and place people in our path to spread it to. It can’t get easier than that!
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.
at May 26, 2015
Monday, May 25, 2015
St Bede was born in 672 in Wearmouth, England, at a time when England was completely Christianized. Raised from the age of seven in the abbey of Saints Peter and Paul at Wearmouth, he lived there the rest of his life. He himself became a Benedictine monk and a priest, ordained in 702. Bede was very learned and prolific in his writing and teaching, so much so that he was considered “venerable” in the ordinary sense by the world at large.
He wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics and Bible commentary. He was known as the most learned man of his day. The central theme of Bede’s “History of the Church” is of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism, a plan that could very well be put into use in this our own day and age. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He died of natural causes on May 25, 735, and was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church on November 13, 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.
He is the patron saint of lectors.
St Bede the Venerable, as so many other evangelizing saints in the Church stressed the necessity of putting all of one’s eggs into one basket, the basket of full faith and belief in Jesus and his words and works, as direct communications and links with God himself. With the faith and belief, no matter what comes our way, the Gospel, Jesus, the Church, the Truth, Life will prevail! May we cooperate and do our part this day as members of Christ’s Body, the Church, for whom he gave up his life.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life, you have the words of everlasting life.
at May 25, 2015
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Today the entire Church celebrates its birth, and commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit with great power on Mary and the Apostles; and into the hearts of all those who would believe because of their preaching and teaching and be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
On Ascension Thursday (10 days ago) Jesus announced that another Advocate, the Gift of the Father (and himself) would arrive soon, so that Truth may be firmly rooted now in the world (in the hearts and consciences of the faithful – and everyone else), and that there is now to be achieved no other goal than to experience the peace that the world cannot give: the peace which is the Spirit, the peace which is the forgiveness of sins, the peace and life which continues to flow forth from the pierced and Sacred heart of the crucified Christ.
But in order for there to be peace: we must seek after it, ask for it, and be ready to receive it, as it wants to fall upon us – not according to our own prescriptions, but rather God’s. And when it falls on us, it falls like the dewfall, to invigorate us, refresh us, enflame us and move us to ministries of service among the community of believers: and as St. Paul tells the Corinthians there are many different gifts and ministries but the one and same Spirit working through all of them to build one Church to glorify God who is one. All can now be one in Christ: from the many lands, from the many nations. “Jesus is Lord” – the One Lord - is the cry of the true Christian; it pierces the darkness of the world like a bolt of lightning – and by it the world can see where it is going, and be renewed from deep down inside – for truth turns everything upside down!
What a spectacle it must have been for those gathered from many nations in Jerusalem to hear these twelve men, all Galileans, speaking to them in their own language – the one word of Praise, the one word of Victory, the one word of Hope – telling them that the Crucified is very much alive, and that forgiveness of sins must be preached to the ends of the earth! It is such a tragedy in life to carry around baggage and guilt that doesn’t really need to be carried anymore – all are invited to be free: free to be who God intended them to be all along – his children, his helpers in building a kingdom of love!
And so, it is up to us who have been baptized, confirmed and ordained to recommit ourselves today to our membership in such an astounding organism, and invite others to join it: the living Body of the Risen Christ; the Mystical Body of Love and Peace; and may our efforts in this coming “work season” of the “green-vestmented time of the Church year” be fragrant, fruitful, and above all, full of the blessings of God upon us!
give us virtue’s sure reward;
give us your salvation, Lord;
give us joys that never end. Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father,
As we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we think of how they have followed in the footsteps of your son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Please hold our currently deployed service men and women in your strong arms. Cover them with your sheltering grace and presence as they stand in the gap for our protection.
May all the members of our armed forces be filled with courage to face each day and may they trust in the Lord's mighty power to accomplish each task done according to his Will.
We also remember today all of the faithful departed, and pay them respect where they lie in wait for the resurrection of the dead. We “decorate” their resting places with flowers and prayers, if only in our minds and hearts. We hope one day to join them and share an amazing eternal life of blessedness and peace with them.
May our Holiday Celebration be one of Life, and joyful anticipation of the good things to come. We make our prayers, in Jesus’ name, who is our Lord, our Brother and our Friend.
at May 23, 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
St Peter’s confession of faith, and then his willingness to feed the flock of God in all charity is the rock-like foundation of the Catholic Church – this Jesus clarifies just before he ascends into heaven. “Belief, followed by acts of love done out of obedience to Christ’s command for us to take care of one another” is what we are all about!
Peter professed his faith by saying “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God;” and he three-times proclaimed in front of the other apostles: “you know that I love you Lord, yes, I will feed your sheep and tend your lambs” – inferring not only himself but also his descendants in the apostolic line of succession.
The true measure of a pope, bishop or priest of today is his willingness to base everything he does on “faith and charity” – otherwise he is a hypocritical puff of smoke and a pious fraud – and no priest at all.
In this unstable and challenging day and age, no less than the first century, the clergy and the laity alike are called upon to witness to the Truth of the Catholic Church – filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit and willing to go to the ends of the earth at the very most, but much more easily, but again much more difficultly, to the person sitting next to you. The new kingdom of God begins right here, right now – and every right here and right now of today!
Come Holy Spirit – teach us everything we need to know – to make the real Jesus truly known among the peoples!
at May 22, 2015
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The salt spoken of in this gospel passage, the salt with which we are sprinkled, is the fire of the Holy Spirit of good works. To keep the salt good we must do the works inspired by the Spirit. To say that this saying does not apply to me, or refuse to do it, is to cut oneself off from the very dynamic of Christian living, and to invite unrest and discord into one’s life: the very opposite of peace.
And when we do the works inspired by the Spirit, we must choose to do them with as much purity of intention as we can possibly do them, not being antagonistic to anyone, not following the sinful actions and conditions brought about by the improper use of hands, and feet and eyes. We must use our hands, go to places and look at only those things which build up the Body of Christ and help the reign of God to become more real in a very hostile world.
In the first reading from the beloved Book of Sirach – the practical guide to right living – we are warned not to take credit for anything, or to presume on God’s mercy in committing misdeeds: he is indeed a God of mercy and forgiveness, but only for those who are truly and deeply regretful and sorry: to presume on such mercy may bring undesired results if we forget that God is also a God of anger and wrath that is justified by obstinate behavior.
Those who truly hope in the Lord and live their lives like they are trying to be responsible and obedient members of his Kingdom, are the blessed and the prosperous; may we be among them today!
at May 21, 2015
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Bernardine of Siena was a Friar Minor who was born in Massa de Carrara, Italy in 1380, and died of natural causes in Aquila, Italy in 1444. He was a priest, itinerant preacher, and theological writer. His preaching skills were so great, and the conversions so numerous that he has become associated with all areas of speaking, advertising and public relations. He was a renowned peacemaker, in the Franciscan tradition, who tried to calm feuding clans and factions in the turbulent political world of the Renaissance. His preaching visits (which would sometimes last for four hours) would often culminate in mass reconciliations, as listeners were persuaded to exchange the bacio di pace, or kiss of peace. The crowds were so large that they had to be held in the open air, rather than in a church.
Bernardine was sensitive to the demands of secular life, and tried to negotiate between Christian ethics and a conflicting code of honor that stressed retaining face in a public world. He wrote theological works in both Latin and Italian and established schools of theology for his fellow friars, insisting that ignorance in a friar was as dangerous as riches. He is known as well for his devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus – which he protected, defended and touted with all his might. It is he who designed the "IHS" emblem surrounded by rays, as if from the sun (these are the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek) – this emblem was adopted by the Jesuit community as its logo.
This from a sermon of St. Bernardine:
When a fire is lit to clear a field, it burns off all the dry and useless weeds and thorns. When the sun rises and darkness is dispelled, robbers, night-prowlers and burglars hide away. So when Paul's voice was raised to preach the Gospel to the nations, like a great clap of thunder in the sky, his preaching was a blazing fire carrying all before it. It was the sun rising in full glory. Infidelity was consumed by it, false beliefs fled away, and the truth appeared like a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame.
By word of mouth, by letters, by miracles, and by the example of his own life, Saint Paul bore the name of Jesus wherever he went. He praised the name of Jesus "at all times," but never more than when "bearing witness to his faith."
May we with St. Paul, with St. Bernardine and with all the saints in God's family bear witness to the faith by proclaiming his deeds in our lives, and uplifting, protecting and professing his precious and glorious Name wherever we go, whatever we do. AMEN!
at May 20, 2015
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The gospel passage today talks about Jesus asking his Father to glorify him – because his hour has come. Jesus has yearned for this hour of consummation, this hour of suffering, this hour of battle with the forces of evil – so that the battle could be won, and that the whole world would come to know that God is love and that Jesus is Love-made-Visible. Jesus, as Word of God, came from God’s glory, and now he is asking God to take him back there – but not until after finishing the task at hand. It would not be easy by any means, but it would be done out of obedience and out of love.
St. Paul in the first reading in a parallel fashion knows that his hour too is coming when he will leave his beloved Ephesians, and they will not see him again until the coming of the Kingdom in its fullness. For Paul’s part he is eager always to run the race, to finish the work the Lord Jesus has given him to do in bearing witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.
And Paul, as did Jesus, persisted with the grace of God. We also are encouraged to do the same – come what may, as with them – for the power of love is greater than any evil, and the victory of patience is more profound than any worldly peace.
Come Holy Spirit – fill the hearts of the faithful – enkindle in us the fire of your love – and renew the face of the earth.
at May 19, 2015
Monday, May 18, 2015
We recall today that our first reading remains narrative about post-Pentecost events: and so today we see Paul going down to Ephesus. Here we have the classic outline of apostolic ministry presented: ask a leading question: did you receive the Spirit when you became believers? The classic answer among the worldly is: we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. Well then, how were you baptized? With the baptism of John (an incomplete and non-salvific baptism), although it is a start for his is a baptism of repentance, but for those baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus a whole new world opens up and a transfigured person becomes a child of God and heir of heaven.
We then see Paul baptizing about a dozen of the Ephesians in the name of the Lord Jesus (and his Father and their Spirit) and the Spirit rushes upon them and they speak in tongues and prophesy and they begin a brand new chapter in their lives: and the Christian community is firmly established there.
In the gospel passage, now pre-Pentecost, and even pre-Passion, Jesus says to his Apostles you may think everything is clear to you now about me and my mission; but wait, shortly you will be thrown into chaos and confusion – but take heart I have overcome all chaos and confusion: I have overcome the whole world: and one day when the Spirit finally comes – you will truly know the entire story – and you will rejoice and you will be my witnesses about it to the ends of the earth.
We are witnesses in our own right to the real presence of Jesus – as he comes to us in the depths of our hearts in silence, as he comes in the Scriptures, as he comes in the Eucharist, as he comes in good deeds done for love of him!
May we always seek God, by seeking what he seeks: the poor, the orphaned, the hungry and the forsaken! And may God bless us all and fill us with his Holy Spirit!
at May 18, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015
In our gospel passage today Jesus addresses the obvious tensive relationship that he enters into with us by means of his ascension into heaven. He has already explained to the disciples why it is better that he goes from them, so that the Spirit can come – who will be permanent and will fill the membership of the Church and guide and direct it until the end of time; but in a gentle and compassionate kind of way Jesus addresses those who have become his close friends and confidants: they are sad because of the physical separation: they will not be able to see him any more as they are accustomed to. And this is true, not as they are accustomed to, but they will still be able to see him quite well with the eyes of faith; they will experience his nearness even better than before because he will now reside deeply within their hearts.
It really is the same for us who have become separated from our loved ones in death. The physical separation can be enormous; but the new presence of the loved one can be even greater than the previous one: with the eyes of faith; for there truly can be a new awareness, a new presence, a new closeness, and new experience of being saturated with the person’s love: this ought very much help in the grieving process that is always a part of such loss. But just as the ascension of Jesus is rightly considered a loss and a greater gain, so too can be the loss of our family and friends be considered the same.
We love you Jesus who has gone yet stayed; we love you family, friends who have done the same.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts. Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our King, sing praise.
at May 15, 2015
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Today we celebrate the great solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. There is nothing more that Jesus can do now among us, his course is complete, and now it is all ready to shift into another gear. But what is clear is that he will not abandon us, he will remain in a newer dimension for all ages until the end of time. This great new dimension would be the Church, his Mystical Body, that would solidify and be inaugurated in 10 days’ time when the Holy Spirit would come upon the Apostles, and they and their successors and helper priests would make sure that Jesus is really and truly, sacramentally, present until the end of time.
As for Jesus now – he came, so to speak, to live our lives – but as we live them imperfectly, he came to live them perfectly. In Jesus it is possible for us to strive for true, real and genuine perfection. And then, after we have cooperated with all our might, all the days of our lives, he will share with us the fullness of his merits: newness of life, risen life, forever in God’s heart, in God’s love.
We thank Jesus with all our being today for showing us the most challenging pattern of all – that we must also participate in willingly and lovingly as he did the repeated patterns of death and resurrection, dying and rising, falling down and getting up that are a part of the human condition. But now thanks to him death is swallowed up ultimately, and every fall can be the opportunity for a victorious rising.
You ascended, Jesus, to the highest heavens today, and are now the joy of the angels and saints, you are also our hope and our goal, as well as our comforter and our friend, but most of all you remain our Savior. And you have asked us to take this message and your presence to the ends of the earth and to every creature – may we be generous in our response this day and every one hereafter: for King of all the earth is God – and everyone needs to know this!
God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
at May 14, 2015
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
The Church celebrates today the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. This feast recalls the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary – who identified herself to three small children in Portugal – as Our Lady of the Rosary. She encouraged the practice of penance, the daily recitation of the Rosary and devotion to her own Immaculate Heart. Three secrets were revealed to the children, two of which had to do with politics and war, and the third having to do with the attempted assassination of St. Pope John Paul II, May 13, 1981. The pope attributed his survival to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.
What we can take with us from this celebration is the reminder of the power of Mary’s intercession, which she knew, and we can ever learn more and more clearly, emanates from the kingship and the lordship of her Son, Jesus Christ: Savior of the world. Everything comes from him and leads back to him!
And so, with childlike confidence, as we have been instructed, may we do daily acts of penance, recite the rosary, if only in part, and think thoughts of affection towards the Immaculate Heart of Mary: she is the Mother of God, yes, but she is also our mother, and she delights in fussing over us, and seeing that we have all that we need to lead good, holy, Christian lives.
You are the highest honor of our race;
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
at May 13, 2015
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Today we continue our preparation for the Ascension / Pentecost events. On Thursday we will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, and ten days after that Pentecost: the great coming of the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth who will teach us all things, and make them clear for generations to come. What things?
1) That the world is wrong about sin. The world says that sin is about breaking rules. But the Spirit will say that it is about unbelief – refusing to believe in Jesus – refusing to believe that Jesus is the Son of God – come into the world for our salvation.
2) The second thing the world is wrong about is righteousness. The world says righteousness is about our trying to get back to God. But the Holy Spirit says that righteousness is about Jesus going to the Father – and then him taking us with him, when it is our time and everything is prepared for us.
3) Lastly, the world is wrong about judgment. The world says that judgment spells doom for us. But the Holy Spirit says that judgment spells doom for evil.
Therefore, these references to sin, righteousness and judgment have to do with us only in a passive sense; they actually have everything to do with the Messianic activity of Jesus Christ, Son of God in the primary sense – on our behalf, for us and for our salvation. We become winners as a gracious gift and not by our own merits by any stretch of the imagination.
The story of how all this works is the “good news,” the gospel that Paul and Silas could not be silenced from preaching at Phillippi. And when a miraculous occurrence happened when they were imprisoned, God used it as a means of conversion for the jailer and his family. And after their conversion the new Christians provided a meal for Paul and Silas. Are we not meant to provide a “meal” of sorts for people every day of our Christian lives – with the fruit and food of good works, kind words and an optimistic atmosphere?
It is better for you that I go to the Father, for when I go the Spirit will come to you: and your lives will never be the same.
at May 12, 2015
Monday, May 11, 2015
The gospel passage is about the credibility of Jesus. Old Testament legitimacy is always dependent upon at least two witnesses, two testimonies. Jesus tells us today that regarding him and his mission and his work, in fact his very identity as Son of God and Son of Man, there are at least two who testify: the Holy Spirit soon to be sent from God: the Spirit of Truth, and on an equal footing, the Apostles themselves (and all believers) – they too offer testimony because of their own personal experience with Jesus – both really and mystically!
Once validated and established as who is really is, as one who has indeed come to change the world spiritually into the Kingdom of God, then naturally there will be opposition, persecution and most likely death for true believers. And this is an interesting quote from the gospel (in the light of current political unrest in the Middle East) “the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” Anyone or any religion who purports such doctrine is seriously in error. And consequences will be meted out by God himself to them.
It is up to us to be strengthened by Jesus’ encouragement and reality as God’s own Son – sent, who also sends, apostles and us – to do his will. The question today is: do you accept the challenge to live the Christian faith as it truly is – even to the point of self-sacrifice?
The Lord takes delight in his people!
at May 11, 2015
Sunday, May 10, 2015
It may almost sound like a campaign kind of logic: Jesus in the gospel passage could be observed to be building himself up when he says there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends – and you can see I have done that, so am I not wonderful? – will you not elect me to public office? Well, the truth of the matter is that he is more than wonderful, because he is not just “some man” who “laid down his life for his pals.” The real story here is that he is the “God-Man,” who nevertheless laid down his life in order to save his enemies (not his friends). The whole reason Jesus came to us at all is because our relationship of friendship with God was so shattered and so broken that it could never be put back together again by anyone living on this planet. So he came from “beyond the stars” to save us, forgive us our sins and throw open the gates of heaven so we could enter and rejoice with him and all others who want to be there – forever!
And so now, it is at this point, because Jesus did what he came to do: prove his love by dying on the Cross and rising again: that he can add just one more thing – to “seal the deal”: he tells us how to retain his salvific actions in our own histories and lives: remain in my love, remain in this friendship, love one another – self-sacrificially – like I did do for you, and even if needs be, in some rare cases to the point of death – you must do everything that I have commanded you to do out of love for me.
And these things are not burdensome, there are not hundreds of commands written in some lofty code as in the days of Moses: what I give you are the Beatitudes, I give you my sayings; I give you my parables; I give you my sermons. The message hidden in all these manifestations is actually very simple: GOD IS LOVE! That is what I came to tell you! And – since your baptism – you live in God – therefore you live in love – so keep that love alive – experience the great dynamic energy that it engenders – and you will be saturated in joy and peace and hope; and with St. Paul, you will be able to go out and bring this message to all nations – beginning with the people I place right around you.
It was an exciting evangelistic undertaking that would be underway in a couple of weeks’ time with the arrival of the Spirit on Pentecost – and arming his beloved apostles with faith and love – the world would never be the same!
With gratitude in our hearts, O Lord, we thank you for all you have done – in loving us so very, very much – and we recommit ourselves today to surrendering ourselves entirely to your will and care: you are God, you can never let us go astray if we cling to you, adore you and glorify you with all our hearts!
Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise.
at May 10, 2015
Friday, May 8, 2015
We are edging closer now to the feast of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven: and before he leaves his apostles he wants to simply clarify his whole mission: before I came among you, you were slaves of the Old Law, you were slaves of God – but I came to transform you into friends – friends of mine, and friends of God. This is an enormous feat that could only have been accomplished by my laying down my life for you. I LOVE YOU THAT MUCH – that I would lay down my life for all of you – and not only of the Jewish family, but the Gentiles as well.
And so: I cannot force you, but I can invite you from the bottom of my Sacred Heart to accept that love and that friendship that I offer freely to you: and you will do that by doing what I command: which is simply to love, disinterestedly, with holy indifference, any and all people I place in your life – and beyond even your own inner circle.
It is really an amazing thing to be considered a friend of God – especially as it is the condition for the possibility of making us true friends of one another – and we all know that we need both these vertical and horizontal relationships.
Jesus has told us all about his Father, which qualifies us for Divine Friendship with him; may we tell as many we can today about both Jesus and his Father – so that the energy of divine friendship will flow through our spiritual veins. It will be a joyful experience!
at May 08, 2015
Thursday, May 7, 2015
It is the human way to proceed slowly and cautiously before any big changes take place! This was also true of the “human element” of the newly inaugurated Divine Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Though infused with the Holy Spirit, the still weakened and somewhat darkened intellectual part of the minds of many of the early Christians, even Apostles and presbyters (priests) were a bit slow in “piecing it all together” – especially as regards the transition from the Old Testament to the New. The question in point today is the total acceptance of Gentiles as true and genuine coheirs with the Jews to the merits of Jesus’ death and resurrection! So many in the early months and years were less than enthusiastic about simply letting the Gentiles in “scott-free”!
It is Peter today who speaks to the gathering of Church members and he tells them that quite obviously the same Holy Spirit that rushed upon them at Pentecost, has also fell upon these Gentiles in their midst: it is because of the visible fruits thereof that came the proof: they proclaimed Jesus as Lord, called on God as their Father – and yearned to be part of the table fellowship with the rest of the Christian community. An additional question was whether or not they had to be converted first to Judaism, if only briefly, before being converted again to Christianity. Peter, James and many others of the Apostles agreed that this was not necessary: what was necessary was that they “turned to” “converted” to the Lord ONCE AND FOR ALL TIME!
The gospel passage tells us that all who belong to the one Christian community – whether coming in from Judaism, Gentilism or straight away from the world: have one thing in common: they have a strong, deep and overriding desire to “keep the commandments of Jesus, which are all about LOVE” – and Jesus and his Father will both come and reside and remain in such persons – being the source of great joy both now and forever! Amen!
at May 07, 2015
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Our readings today are about unity and community. Jesus makes it very clear that a disciple of his must remain entirely and wholly attached to him like a branch on a vine. A branch cannot live apart from the vine; and even if it could, its fruit would be of a strange variety – being dissociated from the species of which it is meant to be a part. And so, we must remain in Christ so that our fruit is godly fruit, our works are meritorious for our salvation, and our loving is pure and self-sacrificial. There are many in this day and age who are semi-rooted to the vine, or so they think; but the truth is either you are or you aren’t connected to it: either you have the Christ-life flowing through your spiritual veins or the world’s: and if it is the worlds’ then it can never be entirely true, beautiful or just!
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas in order to stay rooted on the vine – which is the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, as it was just beginning to take form in the world – decide to go to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles and presbyters there about the matter of circumcision of Gentile converts. They did not simply act on their own, but wanted to find out – by the working of the Holy Spirit – in consultation with the others who received the same Spirit at their ordinations – what is to be held or not held in this particular case in the day to day operations of the Church. This is how the Church was set up on Pentecost – it would be guided and informed by the Spirit – and this is how it still operates today. The community is protected, the gathering of personally united persons is guaranteed freedom from error, when acting collegially, and together with the Successor of Peter as their head.
And so today, we thank God for joining us to him, for remaining with us and for joining us to one another in a communion of holiness, fraternity and peace. For, we may always now together go to the house of the Lord, and give him thanks and praise! Amen! Alleluia!
at May 06, 2015
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
In the gospel passage today, after announcing his gift of peace to the disciples Jesus reminds them that the peace he offers is not like that of the world; for worldly peace comes and goes being rooted as it is in the fickle ruminations of the hearts of men. But the peace Jesus gives is rooted in God, who is eternal, who is all powerful, and who can consistently keep his promises. And the amazing promise that Jesus makes here on the Father’s behalf, is that not only would there be a deep abiding peace for those who commit themselves to him fully, but there would also be a place of peace in the kingdom to which Jesus would escort each and every person he intended to be there. After making this promise [this is taking place just before the agony in the garden] Jesus says that the price to pay for all this is now fast approaching: it will appear that the ruler of this world [i.e. the devil] will have his way, but this never even was a possibility, although certain things have now to be played out – things commanded by the Father; and Jesus says that he will lovingly and freely do them, because he loves both the Father, and us for whom he is doing these things.
St. Paul tells all disciples everywhere and at every time – in our reading from the Acts of the Apostles – that preaching the gospel and proclaiming the kingdom in the world is a risky and dangerous business [as he knew from first-hand experience] – but that it has to be done so that those who are meant to hear the “good news” of Death and Resurrection of the Son of God – may hear it, come to believe and indeed become part of the kingdom through baptism. Paul established so many communities of believers in all of this, and the same faith has persisted and has come down through the ages to us! And now our mouths speak the praises of the Lord and our flesh blesses his holy name! Amen! Alleluia!
at May 05, 2015
Monday, May 4, 2015
In the gospel passage, Jesus tells the disciples that there are two prerequisites for membership “on the vine” – having the commandments of God, and observing them. Now for the “new people of God,” the “commandments” shift from the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) to the single law of Love: love one another as I have loved you, as you have been loved first by God. But, of course, if you do this loving of others fully and as prescribed, then you will also be doing the Ten Commandments: because I have come not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.
And to ensure that you are in tune with the new fullness of the Law, to ensure that you are pleasing to God, to ensure that you are specially loved children of my Father – the Advocate, the Holy Spirit will be sent by the Father, in my name – to teach you exactly how all these things came to be and are – and he will remind you of all that I told you.
And for us today, as we find ourselves members in the assembly of those who believe in God, accept his commandments and try to live them out in love – we will feel an unusually close identity with Jesus, his Father and their Spirit – because they abide deep inside of our souls, and we find ourselves doing great things for God, great but in an ordinary sort of way: just as Paul and Barnabas simply spoke words, simply proclaimed Christ Crucified and Risen. This ordinary proclamation, however produced the result of their being considered “gods” by the Greeks, after accompanying the preaching with healing of a cripple in Jesus’ name – but they were simply as human as anyone else – imbued however, with the powers of belief.
May we always remember that the glory that comes from good deeds done does not go to us, but rather to God!
at May 04, 2015
Sunday, May 3, 2015
We have encouraging and wonderful readings today. The first reading tells of how the Church - through the working of the Holy Spirit - was being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord, with the consolation of the Holy Spirit, growing in numbers. This, including the story of how, when Saul first arrives, ready to preach boldly in the name of the Lord, everyone was afraid of him because he is the very one who was just recently out to persecute and imprison newly baptized Christians.
But it was Barnabas who took charge of the situation and introduced Saul / soon to be Paul as one who is actually on their side now! And it was a marvel for all to see the change in this young upstart from Tarsus. Yes, when God has his way with someone, things change, and for the better!
St. John in the second reading today tells the community of believers that the genuineness of their Christian commitment must be expressed in deeds and in truth and not just word or speech. If we do not allow Jesus to live his life for others through us, then we can talk about it all we want, and it will mean nothing, and nothing meaningful will get done. We must practice what we preach.
Then the magnificent imagery of the gospel passage shows us the degree to which we can and must be united to Jesus in order to have a prosperous and abundant life, here and hereafter and something to share with others: our communion must be like that of a vine and branches. I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me: by daily acts of belief and service to others, then you will experience my presence in a powerful way, and you will be able to ask me for anything and I will do it for you – because you are pleasing my Father and bearing much fruit.
And so at this planting time of the year, when new vines and growth are easily visible let us be reminded how intimate our relationship with Jesus and his Father is meant to be, and in fact can be, through the working of the Holy Spirit in us! A powerful force indeed! – and it will affect not only our own lives, but the lives of those God places in our path each and every day – through us!
I see the account of St. Paul arriving among the first Christians of Jerusalem with much boldness and enthusiasm. Actually the faithful Christians were at first afraid of him because just weeks before he was among their chief persecutors and enemies. But God had his way with Saul and rechanneled his energies for the good. And the rest is history.
Forty years ago today another young upstart was launched on the people of God – of this diocese – me, as I was ordained a priest forever. God likewise channeled my energies, talents and strengths – (though I never persecuted the people of God) – quite the contrary – I always loved them dearly, and worked for their good, and for their salvation. But I did have to learn to do it now God’s way rather than my own as did St. Paul.
Thankfully, I tried to remain on the branches as part of the root – which is what a priest is: so that the life of Christ may flow through me to those he wanted to influence, touch and become a part of. In my case, however, I was challenged with many natural born obstacles that tried to interfere with my job – but I always kept returning to my original love, my original task, my original mission: “to go after the lost sheep of the people of God” – which seems to be where I ended up most of the time: on the edges of priestly life, on the periphery, in places I would not wanted to have gone otherwise. But I can honestly say that though the scope of my ministry has been minimal – the quality of its effectiveness has been as intense as it could ever have been otherwise.
I try to practice what I preach – which is not always easy. And so on this special anniversary day, I ask for prayers of all – and I ask God’s special blessings on all who have been a part of my past – especially my parents, brothers, relatives and friends. You have all touched me, and continue to affect what I do daily. I am grateful to God that we are all part of the same vine which is Christ: may he nurture, strengthen and increase our faith and good works until the last call. And may we live forever in the kingdom prepared for us. Amen.
at May 03, 2015
Friday, May 1, 2015
The principal feast of St Joseph is celebrated on March 19, but this second feast of Joseph the Worker was inaugurated by Pope Pius XII in 1955 to counteract a Communist holiday on May 1. The new feast replaced that of the Patronage of St Joseph, later called the Solemnity of Joseph (another secondary feast). The appropriateness of this new feast is grounded in the fact that Joseph was a carpenter by trade, and trained his son Jesus as a carpenter as well.
Joseph indeed was the worker-carpenter at Nazareth who provided for the needs of Jesus and Mary; and he initiated the Son of God into human work. Therefore, on the day when a holiday in honor of workers is celebrated in many countries, Christian workers venerate him as their exemplar and protector.
There is a God-given right to work, coming from the command of God to Adam to subdue the earth and take care of it - how else could this be accomplished other than by work. Therefore, the feeling of completion that one gets from work ought not be denied or downplayed – it is very much a “sacred sweat”!
In our day and age, in the circumstances in our own country, and in so many other countries of the world, the rights and dignity of workers needs to be honored and protected – by providing jobs in the first place for all who want them, and seeing to it that they have safe work environments and policies set in place to ensure their employment rights.
St. Joseph quietly and faithfully trusted God to provide what he needed as a worker/provider – and then he worked his whole life as a way to repay God for his trust in him to accomplish certain specific tasks; may we embrace our God-given tasks and assignments today – whether we are technically employed by an agency or not: for we are always in God’s employ “subduing with love” “the earth and its creatures” that he has given us to care for – all the days of our life!
St. Joseph, the Worker – pray for us!
at May 01, 2015
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