Thursday, January 31, 2019

Jan 31 - 3rd Week in OT - Thursday

+ We have interesting readings today. In effect, they are about “radiating the light and love of Christ” which is in us due to our baptisms. When the waters are poured and the words are said, we are incorporated really and truly in CHRIST WHO IS LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

And already we are presented with two options, at least. 1) to allow this Guiding Light and Star to shine only in our own private rooms, our own private affairs, our own private lives – so that we can see our way and find our way to heaven. 2) to feel an inward compulsion to shine the light in the open, in public so that not only we can see our way, but we can help others find their way by their blessed and holy interactions with us.

Jesus encourages us in the gospel ready to do the second: in fact, the only real “switch” for the light in its fulness is the human interchange that comes with actually being present to others, involved in their lives as a true helper, and thus authentic and genuine emissaries and disciples of Christ. “The light must be put on a lampstand, so that all in the house can see by its glow!”

Even our first reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews directs us to the same end: don’t absent yourself from the assembly, don’t absent yourself from the “marketplace”, don’t hide in your house surfing the internet, and/or playing video games. There are people in your day today who are depending on you to be their to brighten their day and lighten their load: Strengthened by the Eucharistic Meal and continual prayer and awareness in the present moment that God is there with you and in you, and is the battery power for the LIGHT that you are: keep recharging with the lightning cable of direct consciousness of the glory of all this dynamic that is ours as being human, being chosen, being sent by the WORD himself.

We are all searching for and seeking the “face of God” the Light of His Glory: be that face for another, many others, this day! Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Jan 29 - 3rd Week in OT - Tuesday

+ Our readings today have to do with “the most important thing!” And the most important thing is: to do the will of God, and to do it here, now; HERE NOW, H E R E   N O W !!! -you get the idea.

This is the sacrifice God wants from us as a fitting worship offering, a perfect peace offering, a perfect Love offering.

Now in our first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, the Law (of Sinai, the Law of Moses) could be no lasting and reliable vehicle to do the same – to offer a worship, peace, Love offering.  The Law is only a reflection of these realities. Doing God’s will, as he wills it, when he wills it – NOW – is / can be the “perfect” sacrifice of praise, reconciliation and atonement under certain conditions.

And the conditions are these: since no human being could offer such perfect sacrifice – it could only be one who is both man and God at the same time – and that could be none other than one who was lovingly  chosen by God himself and jettisoned into our human history, our human family, in order to be our PEACE, RECONCILIATION, our JOY: the Messiah, Emmanuel, JESUS of Nazareth.

And Jesus graciously joins us to himself when he obediently and trustingly offers his own human life on the cross on our behalf thus clinching the deal.

It is the least and most that we can do: to imitate him – to do as he has already done with and for us – but requiring our willing cooperation – to offer the sacrifice of our wills, to his, and then together make a true, authentic and genuine PERFECT OFFERING of ourselves to God.

This whole process is dramatically represented and done again in this here and now at each and every Mass we celebrate and attend, and actively participate in.

And then, when we get to the Our Father of the mass – we can truly recite with him the reality of our sonship, brotherhood with him that is meant to be eternal!

At each moment our heart ought to cry out: HERE I AM LORD, I COME TO DO YOUR WILL: LET’s DO IT HERE, NOW, HERE NOW, H E R E N O W!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Jan 28 - St. Thomas Aquinas

+ Today we celebrate the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, “The Angelic Doctor,” one of the most influential theologians in all of Church history. He was born, son of the Count of Aquino, near Naples, Italy. He was educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino and at the University of Naples. He secretly joined the mendicant Dominican friars in 1244. His family kidnapped and imprisoned him for a year to keep him out of sight, and to de-program him, but he escaped imprisonment and rejoined his order in 1245. He then studied in Paris under St. Albert the Great, who sang the praises of his bright, young student: the lowing of this dumb ox would be heard all over the world, Albert rightly prophesied.

Thomas was ordained a priest in 1250, and then returned to Paris to teach theology at the University of Paris. He wrote defenses of the mendicant orders, commentaries on Aristotle and some bible-related works, usually by dictating to secretaries. He won his doctorate and taught in several Italian cities. He was always in demand for his intellectual prowess, and spiritual insight which he combined in his most classic and famous work: The Synthesis of Theology, or as we know it: The Summa Theologica. In all of his research, writing and teaching, however, Thomas was one of the first to show how faith and reason could be complementary to one another, and how anyone at all – Christian, Jewish, or pagan – could contribute in the final analysis of a given topic so long as they were authentically searching for and in touch with truth in its objective state. Sadly, throughout the ages since Thomas, and especially nowadays the concept of an objective state or reality is a highly charged topic of debate. Truth, reality, what-is, is for the most part now “my truth” “my reality” “my feelings” “my opinions” “my world-view” – these are all that count. This, however, is quite sadly not the case. And a revival of some kind of Thomism is so very much needed in our day!   

On the 6th of December 1273, Thomas experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa (before finishing it), saying that it and his other writing were so much straw in the wind compared to the reality of the divine glory – an objective reality and visitation. He died four months later while en route to the Council of Lyons, overweight and with his health broken by overwork.

Because of his penchant to include all sources – sacred and profane – in the search for truth – several bishops condemned some of Thomas’s works shortly after his death, but Pope John XXII, who must have had a deep appreciation for them, canonized Thomas less than fifty years after his death in 1274. Pope Leo VIII commanded that his teaching be studied by all theology students from then on. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1567.

St. Thomas Aquinas understood the readings for Mass today: wisdom is an enormously valuable treasure that must be prayed for and then protected and guarded at all costs: the secrets of God lie in wisdom; the gospel passage reflects, no doubt, Thomas’s humility in knowing that even though he was regarded as a teacher extraordinaire, he paled in comparison with the glory of Christ the Teacher and Master of which his light was but a flicker!

May we never tire of praying for wisdom, and then working to preserve its fruit once it arrives. May study of the things of God be part of our daily routine, our daily bread.

Lord, teach me your statutes for I am open of mind and generous of heart, and ready to be taught.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Jan 27 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ Our first reading today encourages us to listen to the Law of the Lord not in a negative sense – not as a series of restrictions and binding regulations – but rather as a generous boundary given by the God who orders all things for our welfare, for our benefit and for our good: he knows how everything is supposed to work and interact, he is after all Creator and Designer and Sustainer!

All of the men, women and children who thus heard the Book of the Law were invited then to have a great feast of rich foods and sweet drinks – for “that day was holy to the Lord” – and it was from that time onward to be a day of rejoicing which would be the strength of the people.

In our own day, we come on the Lord’s Day, in a sense, to hear the words of God at Mass in the readings and the homily – which could be also described as his law, his dictates and mandates – but we must take them for what they are – inspired words of encouragement, guidance and love. Only God knows the way to where he is, and so it would behoove us to listen to and follow the words and ways of the One sent to us to show us that way: especially as he is God’s-own-words-here-now-in-human-flesh

In the gospel passage then we see Jesus announcing quite matter-of-factly that he was indeed the Anointed One of God sent to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. TODAY THIS SCRIPTURE PASSAGE IS FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING! This was an astounding statement for Jesus to make: no one would ever have dared (in a million years) to say such a thing: but Jesus quite frankly reported: IT’S ME!

How fortunate they were to hear this, how fortunate for us too! For we are incorporated into his very Body the Church by the Holy Spirit who vitalizes every part of the Church so that our salvation can be made available to us as we need it! And so: “It’s him, for us too!”

As Jesus has been anointed to proclaim the Gospel and work great deeds, so have others been appointed and anointed in the same way: the bishops and priests carry on his work and the poor have glad tidings brought to them through parish ministries and programs, captives of all kinds of forces both internal and external are freed because of the spiritual power of bishops and priests, the spiritually and intellectually blind are able to see things as God intends by an awakening of faith, and many of the physically and psychologically oppressed are set free, again by programs set in place that have the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through them – which is none other than GRACE! sanctifying and actual.

Jesus came to save the world, not politically, but deeper than that - SPIRITUALLY: it is the least that any of us can do to let ourselves be saved, let us cooperate in our own redemption and help in the renewal and resurrection of all those around us!

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; let us, as your emissaries, Lord, speak those words to all we meet today!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Jan 25 - Conversion of St. Paul

+ St. Paul, who was named Saul at his circumcision, was born at Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, and was by privilege a Roman citizen, making him eligible for great distinction and several exemptions granted by the laws of the empire. At a young age he was instructed in the strict observance of the Mosaic Law and lived up to it in the most scrupulous manner. In his zeal for the Jewish law, he became an aggressive persecutor of the Christians.

Saul was involved in the martyrdom of St. Stephen, by his presence at the scene and his unwillingness to intervene to stop it, and in the beginning of the persecution of Christians. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them down with chains and threw them into prison. On his way to Damascus to seize Christians and bring them bound to Jerusalem he and his party were surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, and suddenly struck to the ground.

And then a voice was heard saying:” Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He replied: “Who are you, Lord?” and the voice replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” This comparatively mild reprimand by Jesus, along with a powerful flood of interior grace, transformed Saul’s pride, curtailed his rage, and brought about a total change in him. Saul then cried out: “Lord, what will You have me do?” Our Lord ordered him to arise and to proceed on his way to the city, where he should be informed of what was expected from him.

What happened after that we all know about: he was cured of his physical blindness by a holy man named Ananias: who laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on your journey, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Saul then arose and was baptized; he stayed a few days at Damascus and began immediately to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen as one of God’s principal instruments in the conversion of the whole world.

This feast is all about the truly awesome power of God’s grace to bring about what he Himself ordains: it tells us as well that it is our part simply to cooperate with the movement of God, be filled with his Spirit and willing to proclaim this Good News everywhere and at all times.

Then Paul said: God was merciful to me, because in my unbelief I acted in ignorance. The abundant grace of our Lord was poured out on me, and gave me the faith and love which are ours through union with Christ Jesus.

Praise the Lord, all you nations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Jan 23 - 2nd Week in OT - Wednesday

+ In our gospel passage yesterday, Jesus stated that the Sabbath was made for man, rather than the other way around: man being subjected to valid but uncompromising ordinary guidelines and prescriptions for life in the Temple or Synagogue. When an act of compassion, help in an emergency situation or just common-sense dictates that it trumps arbitrary laws of order – then the act of goodness, kindness and healing trumps the situation.

Today in the gospel passage Jesus plays the same card and heals the man with the withered hand. If the Pharisees were looking for “trumped up charges against Jesus” these acts would qualify – but this did not stop Jesus from performing them, nor did it stop them from stacking up “evidence for later use.”

Sometimes it is required of us to color outside of the lines – but these times need not lead to a permanent change in the boundaries or the lines. But these exceptions are only acceptable if the actions are for good, for life, for health, for healing, for reconciliation!

As we go forth today to encounter those who God has planned for us to meet up with let us not be afraid to meet each situation as it is, and to give it from our hearts what it deserves.

Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Jan 21 - St Agnes

+ St. Agnes was one of the most popular saints of the early Church. At age 12, during the persecution of Diocletian, she was ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods and lose her virginity by rape. She made the Sign of the Cross and then was threatened and tortured when she refused to turn against the One God. Several young men presented themselves, offering to marry her (some out of pity to save her life), but she said that to do so would be an insult to her heavenly Spouse, and that she would keep her consecrated virginity intact, accept death, and see Christ. She was martyred then (the exact method is not known) on January 21, 304 at Rome. She became immediately popular as a model Christian during this very difficult time in Church history. Her name is mentioned in the First Eucharist Prayer – the Roman Canon.

On her feast day two lambs are blessed at her church in Rome, Italy and then their wool is woven into the palliums (bands of white wool) which the pope confers on newly appointed archbishops as a symbol of their jurisdiction. Her name means lamb, chaste or pure one.

The gospel passage tells of the treasure and the pearl of great price that are worth all we have to obtain them: both the treasure and the pearl represent all that goes with being a fully committed member of the Kingdom of Heaven: members of Christ the most treasured One of all: the heavenly Spouse who will live very happily forever with all of us one day, after we, like St. Agnes, suffer all that still needs to be suffered in order to perfect his Church and thus make it fully presentable on the Last Day.

May we boast in the Lord today, who strengthens us to do what we need to be righteous, holy and redeemed people of God.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Jan 20 - 2nd Sunday in Ordinal Time

+ Among the first stops of Jesus in his travels in his new public ministry was at the wedding of some friends of the family at a little town called Cana in Galilee. It was not too far from Nazareth, hence the couple being married was known by Jesus and his mother and their friends.

And so it was there, at Mary’s request, that Jesus performs his first miracle a little ahead of schedule – at least not when he was planning on it: but out of respect for and obedience to his mother he did what she asked: he turned a large amount of ordinary water into a choice variety of festive wine, so as not do embarrass the groom who apparently did not calculate the amount needed for the feast. This is significant for two reasons: Jesus did it because his mother asked; he did it because he could do it.

This therefore set up two precedents early in his public ministry: asking Mary to intercede for us and our needs will always win some kind of a hearing; and Jesus has the power to do actually anything that he wants to do, and changing water into wine was not an extraordinary thing for him, although it was pretty amazing for those who witnessed it! Jesus can make changes in our lives too (he can change the ordinary into the extraordinary) – sometimes pretty spectacularly and widely known – but sometimes, most often, it is only he and us who know about it.

The theme of marriage is also to be emphasized here today: in the first reading we hear Isaiah, as always, poetically and beautifully speaking of the restoration of God’s sinful, wayward people, the Forsaken and the Desolate who by his good favor, grace and mercy would soon be renamed his Delight and their land his Espoused. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoice in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.

These are beautiful sentiments and they stand by themselves as a testimony of God’s love for his people, but they also stand as a wonderful explanation of what the marriage of a man and a woman is supposed to symbolize and be comprised of: a couple who have eyes only for each other, and who would sacrifice their very lives for one another to prove their love!

In the second reading we see how the Holy Spirit distributes gifts not only to married couples to help them carry out their duties of fidelity and sacrificial love, but he also gives gifts to everyone in the family of God so that we are fully equipped to help one another out in our oft times difficult journey through life!

If we but recall that we are called to possess the very glory of God (the perfect wine of today’s miracle), as Jesus himself was, (he was the new wine) – then nothing will be too difficult in our married states and all the others states of life we find ourselves in. God will provide exactly what we need when we need it – if we but trust him unconditionally and unquestioningly.

Let us all sing to the Lord a new song and bless his name who continues to do such great things for us! Amen.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Jan 18 - 1st Week of OT - Friday

+ On this first Friday in Ordinal or “Counting” Time our readings focus on three interrelated thoughts: rest, well-being and the forgiveness of sins, all three of which are not possible to us or to the universe without direct infusion and the giftedness of Divine Grace, Divine Power, Divine Action. For of ourselves we can literally do nothing to improve our lot – any of it.

And so in the first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, we see St. Paul reminding the Christian community that even the ability to and reality of being at rest – from the co-creative ventures that make up 6 days of our week, in imitation of God’s 6 days or work-segments in which he created the world: on the seventh day he rested: and just spent “time” “being” and being in admiration of the works that he had accomplished:

and for whom were they created: the pinnacle of his creations that came last in line, after the created universe, stars, planets, sun, moon, plants and animals: the Man and his “help-mate” “work-mate” Woman.

And so, he personally invites all men, women, children to “enter into his rest” – after accomplishing works that he directs, empowers and then praises for a joy well done. To be dis-invited to that amazing experience of rest, non-doing, non-striving – simply having a good time doing whatever comes to mind in the realm of recreation, renewal and praise and worship to the God who made it all possible: would be a terrible thing. To be ever in motion then, work work working – first on God’s projects, the greedily on our own projects, with volume and quality spinning out of control – is a “hellish” kind of existence that we create for ourselves.

And so, when our priorities are straight, we are invited to rest, and all we need do then is gratefully and humbly accept the offer.

The physical healing that Jesus restores to the paralyzed man let down through the roof – was a kind of invitation to rest – to rest in the knowledge and peace that comes from being relieved of a physical malady. But Jesus also uses the same event to demonstrate another invitation to rest: the forgiveness of sins – which frees us from the paranoia of constantly looking over our shoulder as we more exhaustedly now make our way through our days: GUILT is the name of the heavy baggage that willful and knowing sin bestows on our consciences, our minds and our bodies – even contribution to their dis-ease and break downs. And so, Jesus restores a double peace and rest to the man – by healing his body, and his soul! and the man is amazed.

Those who witnessed the events were simply amazed that Jesus did these things: and trying to piece together the reality that only God can forgive sins – maybe this rabbi really is Son of God – in the very literal sense! And their wonder at him began to grow and grow.

May we continue this day to be in wonder at the presence of the Risen Jesus in our lives – who constantly, each moment of the day offers us rest for the taking, peace for the contemplating and joy in being able to now more clearly see what needs to be done for others – to make their lives easier – for in truth – they are our brothers and sisters!

Alleluia! A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people. Alleluia!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jan 17 - !st Week in OT - Thursday

+ We must note – in the first reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews - that it is the Holy Spirit speaking who says: “Oh, that today you would hear his voice – harden not your hearts as in the past – or bad consequences will follow for you.” The warning from God is true, this warning from God is real. We must untangle ourselves from an evil past, to whatever extent we may have wittingly or unwittingly taken part it it, and live honorably, live justly, live uprightly, live lovingly in daylight now – this day!- for “this day” is all we’ve got!  An evil, sinful heart has no place with us on any day!

The gospel passage shows Jesus dealing with physical leprosy – which he easily cures – while inferring that there might be a spiritual kind of leprosy – brought on by a sinful heart (a heart that seeks to pamper and nurture itself, a heart that has lost or is losing the ability to truly reach out and care for another) – the same remedy recommended as in the first reading: “encourage yourselves to living in God’s Presence each day, while it is day” – harden not your hearts to the good things that God wishes to do for you – including healings of many kinds and sorts. You are called to be his instrument for the recreation of others – let is be so for you.

And more than this, we must remember that we are so very precious to God, each and every one of us – we must not forget this, even for a single instant.

Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Jan 15 - Tuesday 1st Week in OT

+ As Jesus begins his work as “a new rabbi in town” he sets a precedent of “prayer and work” – the very concept that St. Benedict adopted when constructing his rule of household Christian life in his newly formed monastery at Monte Cassino. “Ora et labora!” indeed! Jesus first had an intense period of prayer in the desert, whereby he set-firm for himself and the Devil, the priorities of his life: to serve God alone, to worship him alone, to be subject to His Will alone: which ultimately would mean a fierce and brutal Passion and Death by Crucifixion carried out to its maximum level of severity!

He first, then, after the time of point clarification comes to the synagogue in his home town – the local worship site – and he reads the passage of liberation, healing, reconciliation and peace – then tells the hearers that He is the One by whom these things would be accomplished for the Jewish people (and ultimately for all people everywhere). They are amazed at his words and the authority by which he said them.

His words then of prayer, worship and honor to God (who is his True Father who lives in heaven), are followed by actions of physical and mental healings such as the cleansing of the man with the unclean spirit in the gospel passage today. What Jesus is doing, is step by step, word by word, healing action by healing action building up his credibility as who he is: Son of God come into the World to change everything for everyone: and open a new world beyond our imagination for us to reside in forever!

Let us take in the words of Jesus, his actions, and his ways as we live out our own particular purpose in life, that is always fully complementary, and integrated with His own: to heal the world, forgive the world, and free the world from all that to that point held it earthbound.

We must accept God’s full message and works of reconciliation as they really are – a gift from God – rather than some lesser plot by a human being to deceive the world. Jesus is LORD, SAVIOR and KING of all – of the Universe. This is fact not fancy! A personal relationship with HIM who is still very much alive, is what the “leap of faith” produced by the will will get us!


Monday, January 14, 2019

Jan 14 - Monday - 1st Week in Ordinary Time

+ Well, the Advent and Christmas Seasons have now come and gone! We now find ourselves on the First Day of the Ordinal, Counting Time of the Church calendar year, which will end up, the last day before Advent starts all over again.

Chronologically, Jesus is now 30 years old, and with the imprisonment of his cousin John the Baptist, Jesus begins his public ministry as a rabbi, as “the Rabbi” supreme, but revealing this idea in its fullness would take the next three years and end in his death on a cross: Truth and Goodness Incarnate, cannot coexist in the same locality as Worldy Lies and Evil Intent, and so they killed him. Unfortunately, it was his own people who condemned him and ordered his execution.

In the gospel passage we find Jesus entering Galilee proclaiming this message: that remains a relevant and pertinent and urgent announcement that it was on that day – “THIS IS THE TIME OF FULFILLEMT of all of the prophecies regarding salvation,. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND, read between my words and know that “the Kingdom IS ME!” I am the long-awaited Messiah! REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL – the words I speak, the actions I perform, the love and forgiveness and healing that I offer to everyone.

Then he begins to select his inner circle, his band of brothers, his first seminary class of those who would be later sent as Apostles to spread this Gospel, this Good News to the ends of the earth, beginning with Simon, Andrew, James and John: all fishermen, whom he invited to become “fishers of men, women and children everywhere.”

By calling us to membership in his Church, by calling us to baptism into his very life, he calls us as well into his very mission: to spread the Good News, the Gospel, by his words and actions spoken and performed using us, our voices, our hands, our feet. This is what baptism means: to be “Christ-ed” “Christ-ened” “Christ-oriented”!

This is related in a similar vein in the first reading today from the letter of St. Paul to the Hebrews. “In times past, God spoke in partial and various way to our ancestors through the prophets, but in these the beginning of the end times, the last days, no matter how long it takes, he speaks to us through the Son, His Son, Jesus: who he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe. Let us ponder this last statement carefully. It is through Jesus (WORD), that GOD the FATHER SPOKE and created everything in the entire universe including all human beings including you and me. We are “God’s Speech Made Flesh” – through the love-dynamic of God wishing to share his love with other persons created in his likeness as Original Person.

WOW! This ought to make us all very intent and interested in getting to know this Original Person through whom we have been given life, existence and consciousness, anyway he wants to reveal himself to us: primarily and first through words about him inspired by the Holy Spirit himself and found in Scripture, but also in the words and deeds of his disciples including his sent ones and their representatives: bishops and priests and deacons, and all who bear the name Christian, whose mission it is to strengthen, love and care for all we meet in our day!

We will spend the next 34 weeks of Ordinal / Ordinary Time exploring once again the magnificent, majestic, but o so personal and down to earth life of Jesus Christ, Messiah, Lord, Savior and King – of the Universe!


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Jan 13 - The Baptism of the Lord

+ The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord tells us two really astounding facts: that Jesus is the Beloved Son of the Father (and that we had better listen to him); and that after we listen, we are invited to respond to what we have heard by becoming incorporated into his very life, by our own baptism, into the Church that he set up for that very purpose. This makes us astoundingly enough, not only members of his very own Body, but also adopted children of the same Father, with Jesus as our elder brother, and each other as brothers and sisters. Yes, we are God’s children – for real and for sure! There is enough there to meditate on for the rest of our lives!

Our readings today tell us how Jesus’ baptism was not for the repentance of his sin (like the baptism of St. John the Baptist) because Jesus never had any sin; Jesus was baptized for us, (in our stead, like everything else that happened to him), demonstrating himself the way in which we are to be incorporated into himself. But God the Father used the occasion for a great show light and power when he thundered: THIS IS MY BELOVED SON! LISTEN TO HIM! This is my beloved Son, listen to him! Listen to him and respond to what you hear and you will have everything you need for life here and hereafter: you will be able to have your sins forgiven – when you ask for them to be; and you will be welcomed into eternal life in the Father’s house at the end of your days on earth!

All this: for listening and responding: listening to the Scriptures, listening to the homilies, listening to the teachings of the Church which are there for our guidance and our growth and then responding in love – listening to the inner stirrings of our own minds and hearts!

And it is not to his own people alone that Jesus offers such salvation; but to the whole world – all the nations, everywhere. This is very good news!

May we recall also that the baptized one, whom we recall today, is also the Suffering Servant, the kind, gentle, loving, shepherd of the sheep: who would change everything forever – but at the cost of his own life! Is it even possible for God to die? Yes, yes, it is! Thankfully! and lovingly!

Thank you God, for being an amazing elder brother – come to save us in Jesus; may we be true, authentic, genuine and real adopted sons and daughters of the Father, and brothers and sisters of you to whom we look for help, mercy and forgiveness but most of all: lasting and permanent friendship and peace in your Kingdom!

The Lord will bless his people with peace!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Jan 12 - Saturday after Epiphany

+ The gospel passage today introduces an often glossed-over account of a surprising activity of Jesus and his disciples: St John tells us “Jesus and his disciples went into Judea where he spent some time with them baptizing: John was also in the area baptizing.” ?? Huh? so what is this all about? What is Jesus doing baptizing people?

Placing the event juxtaposed to John’s baptism tells us that these baptisms were the “pre-Jesus” baptism of repentance for sin – and kind of spiritual cleansing and purging of lesser offenses. The forgiveness involved gained its power for the upcoming and future act of Jesus’ death on the Cross and subsequent Resurrection from the Dead to a fullness of human life. In a sense it was a “preview ad” or “coming attraction” that we are used to seeing before watching a movie in a theater.

This reading in a sense ties in nicely with the first reading from St. John’s First Letter: first he tells us to ask anything according to the will of God and it will be ours, the answer is set in motion before we even speak out fully the request. Then he talks about seeing a brother or sister who is erring, sinning against the Laws set down by God for right living. We are not to simply do nothing and let their eternal souls remain in peril, we can at least “pray for them” – ask the will of God for the welfare of their immortal souls. And this answer will also be set in motion instantaneously. God is always so eager to assist us in doing the right thing!

And so today will be full of opportunities to help others, either by praying for them, or by lending them an encouraging word or a helping hand. Doing this in the Name of Jesus, for the glory of his Father and ours will bring great blessings on us and our loved ones – without a doubt!

“The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, LIGHT HAS ARISEN! May that same light SHINE THROUGH US – this day – moment by moment! Amen.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Jan 10 - Thursday after Epiphany

+ In the first reading, St. John continues his “discourse on LOVE!” Today he emphasizes that loving God equals loving our brothers and sisters – whom we can see. It is an invisible mandate that we are to follow, for God in Jesus is invisible to us directly, but the point of the passage is that, God is very present in the brother and the sister.

So, he tells us that if we say we love God, but hate our brother or sister, then we are liars. The commandments he gave us are all about being in good relation with those he puts in our lives and in our paths each day. It is not therefore difficult to know what God’s will is for us. All we need to commit ourselves is to doing it.

And how this all works is this: faith. It is not just on the natural level that we are asked to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers – but the supernatural one. Belief that there is a beautiful and powerful love-dynamic that was instituted by God, for us to interact with him on his own level is huge! And that all there is to it. Simple faith! But probably the most difficult leap that any of us will ever have to make. But once made – everything looks and feels, different. And the Kingdom of God has already begun, even in this life.

In the gospel passage, Jesus announces to the members of the synagogue, after reading a passage from Isaiah about the liberating, healing, reconciliatory work of the Messiah, that He Himself, in fact is this Messiah, this liberator, this healer, this reconciler. And they were amazed at his words.

May we still reflect on with the eyes of faith, this Messiah who was born into our world to make all the difference for everyone: to be HOPE, and PEACE and LOVE in the flesh. And then may we spend this day loving and caring for all we meet in some way or another, and thus feel the effects of the Jesus-Love-Dynamic at work in us.

The Lord has sent you and me to also bring good news to the poor, and to proclaim liberty to captives. Off we go then, to seize the day with JOY!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Jan 9 - Wednesday after Epiphany

+ There are a couple of interesting highlights from the readings today. In the first reading, St. John continues his “discourse on LOVE!” He is saying that anyone operating the love dynamic (whose origin IS God), experiences God. This is enormous! But a corollary is also true, once we come to our senses and know this by experience to be true, then two things automatically must follow: we pause if only for a moment, to give thanks to God as a grateful child of his, and then we operate the love dynamic to as many as we can – by helping them, understanding them listening to them, encouraging them, standing by them in their need, and even just having fun with them – thus making new friends and acquaintances wherever you go – which will prove that the Jesus-love-dynamic works and that to be a member of God’s family we simply have to believe it and use it often.

The gospel passage is a classic: after showing the disciples that he can do anything at all required to help people and to be compassionate to them by feeding 5000 of them with 5 loaves and 2 fish: now the wind was strong that night as the disciples were in the boat going to the other shore – and when Jesus comes walking towards them in the water they proved that they just did not get the magnitude of Jesus / God’s presence that would be available to them from now on – they were fearful and cried out: “It’s a ghost” – to which Jesus replies in so many words: “Relax guys, it’s just me, Jesus”  When he got into the boat the wind died down – and they were just astounded.

The question for us is this: do we “get” the enormity of Jesus’ reality and presence that is available to us in so very many forms each day? especially  when we with his help operate the true and authentic love-dynamic? We have so much more experience with him then the disciples had at this stage in their walk with him. All we need do is simply to pause often during the day – and experience Jesus really and truly present deep within our souls, our hearts, our bodies – the wind and waves of the day will calm down every time – Jesus will get into our boat and we can sail into smoother waters for the rest of the hour or the day!

Glory to you, O Christ, proclaimed to the Gentiles. Glory to you, O Christ, believed in throughout the world. Amen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jan 2 - Sts Basil and Gregory

+ This taken from the Office of Readings for the Feast of Sts. Basil and Gregory.

A sermon by St Gregory Nazianzen

Two bodies, but a single spirit

Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning, and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.

  I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.

  What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honour than his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.

  Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognized that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.

  The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.

  We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that everything is contained in everything, yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.

  Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.

  Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Jan 1 - Mary, Mother of God

+ Today we celebrate both the august maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Mother of God, and the naming of her Child, eight days after his birth: the name given by the Angel at his conception: Jesus, Savior. The time of blessing had arrived: God has now entered our world, as one of us, born of a woman, in order to save us from our disconnectedness from God that would have remained permanent and unchangeable, unless God himself did not choose to intervene on our behalf.  The mediation of a human birth by means of a humble virgin of Nazareth was sublime in its originality, its simplicity and its faith.

And so we celebrate today Mary’s cooperation with the Divine Plan of Salvation, we celebrate the fact that she became the mother not only of one who had a human nature (like her own), but also a Divine Nature (wholly other, of God himself) combined without confusion in one Divine Person: Emmanuel, Christ the Lord. Mary truly was then, Mother of God (that is Mother of the God-Made-Man) who was wholly God, while being wholly man at the same time.

O wondrous mystery! The mystery of the exchange of divinity with humanity, and humanity with divinity! Man was now capable not only of having his sins forgiven, but of living in God forever – in his heart, where the Divine Person in his Divinity and later humanity always lives.

Mary often pondered on the events of which she was a part; the birth of her Son in a manger, the visitation by shepherds, the prophecies that were just beginning to be externally fulfilled in her infant Son. Yes, on the eighth day, as prescribed by Mosaic Law, Jesus was circumcised and named, as was prophesied, JESUS! And he immediately took on the role of SAVIOR and never let it move from the center of his focus until he breathed his last on the Cross, that he always knew lay before Him.

Thank you Jesus for all you have done and still do for our salvation; and thank you Mary for being not only the Mother of the Savior, the Mother of God; but also the Mother of all who belong to his Mystical Body, the Church: Mother of us. We love you and honor you this day, and ask that you always be our comfort and our joy as we try to live the best we can, the life modeled not only by your Son, but also you, who are our Queen and our Friend.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Sep 13 - St John Chrysostom

+ St John Chrysostom was born in 347 in Antioch, Asia Minor. His father died when he was young and he was raised by a very pious mother. ...