Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 28, 2014
I –All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer.
R –I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
II – If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you.
A – I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord. I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.
G –Father, glorify your Son.

+ On Thursday we celebrated the glorification of the Son by the Father as Jesus ascended on a cloud and took his place in the beatific holiness, glory and majesty that radiates always from the Father – the Church calls this “sitting at the right hand of God!”  The “divine giant” had completely run His course here belowfinishing the work he was given to do. And now he experiences a glorious triumph: the fullness of joy at his Father’s side – forever.

The reason for the heights of his great joy was the depths of His great Passion and ignominious death on a cross. But he is exceedingly joyful now that we can share in the merits of his suffering, death and resurrection, thus promising that what happened to him will also happen to us. His death is our death; his resurrection is our coming to life! Therefore, Jesus is our HOPE extraordinaire!

Today in the gospel passage Jesus prays for the apostles he would send out on the feast of Pentecost (which we will celebrate next Sunday) that they may be armed with heavenly wisdom, the gift of revelation and every spiritual gift necessary to launch the Church he founded into the world, for the ages it would be needed to sanctify men and ready them for the fullness of joy and peace that awaits all who believe in His Divinity!

It would not be easy to be a part of the Church of Jesus, because the Church was conceived as the result of a death and resurrection dynamic which all members are required to participate in in order to reap the benefits thereof: but the benefits are even beyond our imagining, therefore all the work, all the suffering, all the misery that are a part of human life are worth it for the baptized and confirmed Catholic Christian.

After Jesus ascension, we read in the acts of the Apostles that the Eleven went to Jerusalem to the Upper Room and tried to remember all that Jesus ever said and did – including that truly awesome last supper that he ate with them. And they did what they were told to do; with Mary, Jesus’ Mother, they spent time in great silence and great prayer awaiting the coming of the promised Gift of the Spirit that Jesus and his Father would be sending soon!

Perhaps this is how we can spend this coming week, before we celebrate that great event and the inauguration of the Church as we know it – in more of a silent mode, opening our minds and hearts to any spiritual gift that God would give us to help us better live our own Christian lives, and to help others live theirs, even bringing his Name and his message to those who do not yet really know him!

And, we must always remember Jesus words just before he left us: I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice!

Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 21, 2017
I –Peter and John laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
R –Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
II – Put to death in the flesh, Christ was raised to life in the Spirit.
A – Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
G –I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate.

+ As we advance in our celebration of Easter Day, we shift now into a mode of remembering! First, it is almost time for Jesus to finish his work on earth that required his physical presence. He would be returning to the Father soon, ascending into heaven on a cloud.

Since his resurrection, he has done his best to get his apostles to “remember” all that he taught them, so that they would be ready to be sent out ten days after the Ascension on the Feast of Pentecost.  And so they remembered his birth in a stable, his hidden childhood, his Baptism in the Jordan which inaugurated him as Suffering Servant of the Lord – who would free God’s people from their sins and open the gates of eternal life to them once and for all!

Before he accomplished this by a brutal experience of death on a Cross, he told them to remember all the events in his life by a meal of remembrance which would be called Eucharist: The Mass. And, lastly he wanted them to remember that with his leaving – the Holy Spirit would come to them to empower them to bring the gospel and the sacraments of the Church to all the world until the end of time! Yes, this is quite a time of remembrance for us as Catholic Christians.

Perhaps sometime this day, this Sunday in the now winding-down Easter Season – we can pause, reflect, remember and put ourselves in an attitude of thanksgiving, wonder and awe at the God who remembers us each moment of our lives – or we would simply cease to exist – and who arranges circumstances, events, and happenings in our day – aligning us with the people, places and things that we need to advance in agenda of building a family of kind, caring, compassionate, patient brothers and sisters with God as our Father, Mary as our Mother, Jesus as our brother and the Holy Spirit who is the love-dynamic that keeps it all spinning, purring and alive with endless possibilities of creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness!

It is true: whoever loves Jesus will keep his word, and his Father will also love him and will come to him and be their strength, their protection and their peace and their joy forever!

Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 14, 2017
I –They chose seven men filled with the Spirit.
R –Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
II – You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood.
A – I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father, except through me.
G –I am the way and the truth and the life.

+ Last Sunday, Good Shepherd Sunday, I talked about vocations to the priesthood, and now this week we look briefly at other “callings” “vocations,” that are God initiated and given for the good of the Mystical Body of Christ, His Son – which, of course, is the Church!

In the first reading today: deacons are ordained by the apostles in a ministry of helping, so that they, the Apostles can devote their full energies to their apostolic mission: of prayer and confecting of sacraments.

In the second reading: there is emphasis made that we are all called to be living stones in the temple of the Church: a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that we may announce the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Part of this “priesthood of the people” is living to the fullest all the other vocations that contribute to the smooth running of the Church: marriage, the single state, the religious state; as well as the many other ministries of service that are a part of the smooth functioning of a parish: i.e. Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, Acolytes, Music Ministers and the like.

It is our joy and our duty, no matter where God places and situates us in our life’s work, to announce his praises to everyone, everywhere. This let us do joyfully and full-heartedly this day and everyday! It is also our duty, our obligation and our privilege to make a “gospel difference” in the world in which we live: to think, speak and act as though the “death/resurrection” “redemption/invitation to eternal life” dynamics are something we believe deeply in through our own experience of them – due to our baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and ordinations – and we are witting to witness these things and share them and bring hope and peace to others because they can see them alive and active in our lives.

Our vocation – no matter how it plays out – has this as its core and basis: the HOPE and JOY of life forever with God – because we cooperated with graces given, promises kept, and a whole new dimension of living shared!

Amen!
Alleluia!
“This we believe!”

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 7, 2017
I –God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ.
R –The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
II – You have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
A I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.
G –I am the gate for the sheep.

+ On this “Good Shepherd” Sunday, it is fitting to talk about vocations, especially to the priesthood and consecrated religious life!  The priesthood, of course was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper that he ate with his disciples. After he gives his all really and truly by changing the essential substance of the bread and the wine into his own body and blood which would be equally and unequivocally given the next day on the Cross at Calvary, he tells this band of brothers to “do this from then on, in his memory;” thereby vivifying the very act of remembrance and doing what he did – until the very end of time!

In the commission of doing comes the institution of the sacrament of Holy Orders. The Twelve would from then on be priests of the New Testament with, through and in Jesus their Lord, their Brother and their best Friend.

I think that it could be safe to say that Jesus asked them, in preparing them for that great moment or ordination, three questions: 1) Can you suffer greatly? 2) Can you pray intensely and unceasingly? 3) Can you be a friend to others, to the very end – even to the irritating and obnoxious? He didn’t ask them if they were smart, if they went to college, or if they were on the dean’s list: he asked them the practical question of life as a shepherd, which would mirror his life as shepherd. Not that intelligence, and academic ability is not very important for the modern priest or religious, but what is most important is whether the candidate can suffer, really suffer; pray, really pray; and be a friend to all kinds of people, to the very end?

And isn’t this actually what Jesus’ Father must have asked his Son, the Word, (Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) who volunteered to come to earth to save us from our sin: Son, can you suffer, a bitter agony and death on a cross? can you pray, from your heart constantly chatting with me about everything that is happening with you? can you be a true friend and shepherd of those people to the bitter end – which would mean a brutal death on the cross? Jesus immediately said: YES! YES! YES! for them and for their salvation I am ready to go! And he came to us as our friend, as our shepherd, as our Lord and God.

St. John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation: Pastores Dabo Vobis states emphatically that God will provide “shepherds after his own heart” – which is the same as the Sacred Heart of Jesus! In the day of a declining number of priests we must hold firm to this prophecy from Jeremiah that will not just fade away. God will always provide shepherds, and assistant shepherds so long as young, and these days even not so young men listen and respond to the call to feel his loving look upon them and to respond enthusiastically to Jesus when he asks them to follow him without reserve.

O Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of priests, indeed, Mother of the Church, guide those who courageously and lovingly wish to investigate a life of service to the Church as priests and consecrated and dedicated religious priests, brothers and sisters, of the New Testament, shepherds after the heart of Jesus; protect and strengthen their vocations, and help us with you to offer our full measure of support and prayers for so noble and generous a commitment!
God bless you!

Third Sunday of Easter – Apr 30, 2017
I –It was impossible for Jesus to be held by death.
R –Lord, you will show us the path of life.
II – You were saved with the precious Blood of Christ as with that of a spotless, unblemished lamb.
A – Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us.
G –They recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread

+ Our “Alleluia Verse” today summarizes the theme for the day!  Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us! It is easy to know if we have “connected with” the Risen Lord Jesus as he wants us to connect with him: if our hearts “burn within us” with a warm glow and a peace and a joy that cannot be gotten anywhere else – a glow and peace and joy – that reaches down to the very depths of our souls – a glow that produces hope! This “connecting” – this “communing” – can happen at this and every Mass: if we are open to it, consider it a real possibility, and welcome it when it begins to happen!

Our gospel passage today, in a sense, outlines the format of the Mass for us: Jesus comes and walks with us as we listen to his [very own] words in the Scriptures and the homily; then, he comes into the inner recesses of the “houses of our hearts and souls” and breaks bread with us, as we partake of the Holy Communion that is his very real, substantial and living Risen Person. The sacred silence that occurs at the moment of reception (and in brief moments thereafter) cries out: Here is your God! Here is your King! Here is your HOPE!

If there is some kind of glow and peace and joy – when all of this happens: then we have brought what we needed to bring to the Mass: our faith and our love; and we now can bask and abide in the magnificent presence of the Risen Jesus for the rest of the day; until the next time, we either pray, or come to Mass!

Once we “get” the dynamic that is going on here, more and more clearly, then we can be witness of it to others – we can tell others about it – who we can see to be wandering around aimlessly and sadly; and then the more we can all celebrate the astounding “Easter fact” that our spiritual necks have been “ransomed” not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb! And it is all found in the thunderous silence of sacredness moment of moment in time!

Let us return to that moment of reception of Holy Communion often during the day! It is the great summation, it is the great promise, it is the greatest of joys!

What a price, and what great love that comes to us from Christ Jesus our Risen Lord and Brother.

Lord God, continue to show all of us, each and every day of our lives, the true “path of life” that will lead to a face-to-face encounter with you and your Son!

Amen! Alleluia!

 

Second Sunday of Easter – April 23, 2017
I –All who believed were together and had all things in common.
R –Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
II – God has given us new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
A – You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are they who have not seen me, but still believe!
G –Eight days later Jesus came and stood in their midst.

+Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God.” We all recognize these familiar words of the Apostle Thomas who insisted on seeing and touching the wounds of Jesus in order to believe that he has, in fact, risen from the dead! Jesus tells Thomas that belief can come from a more direct contact with Jesus –according to his wishes; but for the greater majority “believing in the divinity of Jesus” would produce the “seeing of Him” that people long for; for such seeing is a very real, but supernatural and invisible kind of seeing! But in either case: the same prerequisite is absolutely necessary: BELIEF IN THE DIVINITY OF THE RISEN JESUS!

But we may ask, why does not God make things easier for us, more plain, more visible, more real, on terms that we can understand: “our terms”? The answer is that he wants us to walk through this life by FAITH; which is on “his terms!” He can do that: He is God. He wants us to walk in a certain amount of darkness, and confusion and struggling; he wants us to always be looking up and out, away from ourselves, for him, in hope and with love in our hearts for him and for others, as we make our way to our heavenly homeland! Earth, as it is now, is not a home for Christian people - nor for anyone else, for that matter – heaven is! And if everything were so plain and simple, we would forget we need God and he would be sad that we no longer want to come and live with him!

This explains the main theme of today’s celebration: the “divine mercy” of God! God delights to show mercy, give help, give comfort, bring aid, and give healing of mind, body and spirit: but that can only happen if we, as human beings, count ourselves qualified – and what qualifies us is our regard of our own utter nothingness, emptiness and misery without him! For this is absolutely true! WITHOUT GOD WE ARE NOTHING and we can do nothing! And there is nothing more tragic and wonderful than that! Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion OSB, a favorite spiritual writer of mine, who was beatified in the year 2000 by Pope John Paul II, tells us that the abyss of our misery calls to the abyss of God’s mercy!

It is not our perfection to dazzle God who is surrounded by myriads of angels. No, it is our misery, our wretchedness AVOWED (recognized and proclaimed) which draws down his mercy [on us his beloved adopted sons and daughters]. Is this not what St. Thomas said to Jesus on the Octave night of Easter: Jesus, I was so wrong, I was so full of myself, I always have to have proof for everything, but now I avow my nothingness in the light of your totality: you are my Lord, you are my God, you are my EVERYTHING!

When any of us comes into the presence of Jesus, we must come humbly, hands held open, and satisfied to rest at his feet as we await our “marching orders” from him – who will work through us! For since the day of our baptism our lives are not our own, they are his! And what a magnificent sense of usefulness and joy comes to the disciple who lets Jesus do for others, through us, whatever he wants!

And today, as I have alluded to, we remember four other people of our own times who allowed this instrumentality to happen to them: St. Faustina Kowalska who was Jesus’ personal secretary in writing down his wishes to be known as the great distributer of Divine Mercy – flowing from his Sacred Human Heart!  Now, St. Pope John XXIII, whose sense of mercy and compassion was very evident in his desire to begin a grand renewal of the spirit of the Church, grounded in true care and concern for all people everywhere, which has come to full flower now in the life of our current Holy Father, Pope Francis. And of course, St. Pope John Paul II, who espoused the Divine Mercy Message, canonized Sister Faustina in the year 2000 (April 30), and declared the Octave Day of Easter, (the Second Sunday of Easter - today) to also be known as Divine Mercy Sunday: so that the application of the merciful events of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus can be summarized and celebrated!

The world needs Divine Mercy appreciation, celebration and application more than ever – for the time to bring all things to fulfillment may be near – and that is why we have this Feast and the Image to focus on and celebrate today!

Thank you God for “the abyss of your providential love and mercy” that you so willing pour out like and ocean on any who declare “the abyss of their own misery, their own nothingness, their own helplessness” and ask for all of your help! You respond instantaneously! You respond generously! For You are our Lord, You are our God, You are our ALL!
God bless you!  Amen! Alleluia!

Easter Sunday – April 16, 2017
I –We ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
R –This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
II – Seek what is above, where Christ is.
A – Christ our paschal lamb has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord.
G –He had to rise from the dead.

+ Two weeks ago Jesus told Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus whom he was about to raise from the dead: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE, WHOEVER BELIEVES IN ME, EVEN IF HE DIES, WILL LIVE, AND EVERYONE WHO LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER DIE!” This was the astounding message of that day’s readings, and it is the identical and astounding message of todays’: today, on this Easter Sunday, Jesus stands in our midst as ONE LIKE US, WHO WAS RAISED FROM HUMAN DEATH by God his Father and given A BRAND-NEW KIND OF HUMAN LIFE: a life of fullness, splendor, and glory: so that he can freely give them to us, IF WE BUT BELIEVE IN HIM!

Today is the “day of whistles and bells” it is the “day of appreciating the ‘fully loaded’ shiny new automobile” that we all might hope to own just one time in our lives. This is the “newness of life” that we speak of in the resurrection of Jesus. He did not resume a previous “used life,” but began to model now the fully loaded version with amazing new capabilities, whistles and bells. (I speak of the preternatural gifts, of course, but more on them later).

For now, Jesus, the only human person who was “born to die,” and to rise again to a fullness of life, paid the price of Adam’s sin by death on a Cross so that we could be free: free to believe in his divinity; free of our sins that would disqualify us from eternal life; free to live forever with God in heaven with all our brothers and sisters who go before us: to really and truly never die again, after our baptism!

Yes, in coming out of the tomb JESUS BECAME RESURRECTION: HE BECAME NEW LIFE – SHINY, POLISHED, WHISTLING, TINKLING NEW LIFE- FOR ALL OF US!

Therefore, the two possible fitting responses we can give him are: first, an enormous amount today of THANKS, and PRAISE and WORSHIP! The “Alleluias” that we sing today should resound in our hearts constantly for the next fifty days: the length of the observance of the Easter Season! “Alleluia” is the song the angels sing before the throne of God, day and night! With our voices blending with theirs God will be very pleased with us and he will know that we “get it” – we understand the PROFUND DEPTH OF HIS LOVE FOR US in planning our salvation, and in going through all of what it entailed, including the death of his own Son - FOR US AND FOR OUR SALVATION!

And secondly, may our hearts burn with love for Jesus today and every day: Jesus, our Elder Brother who came back from the dead, and who is with us now sacramentally in his Church [especially in Holy Communion], and who plans to come back one day to take us with him, where he is now! And may we make this “gospel [good news] story” known to all we meet – some way, somehow! It is our supernatural duty as baptized members of Christ’s Body: the Church to do this!

Just as “evangelization” began with Mary Magdalene bringing the “good news” of Christ’s resurrection to Peter and the Apostles:  “gospel spreading,” in Virginia, begins with us! Jesus did what he did for all people everywhere, including right here where we are, and he needs us to help 
“get the word out” – the Good Word of God’s Gospel – the Good Word of the Resurrection!

So what do you say? Are you willing to tell people about the most amazing love story ever told: God’s truly awesome and redeeming love for all people everywhere – which has more than a fairy tale ending?

 I pray so!

God bless you!

 

Holy Thursday – April 13, 2017

And the Word [of God] – His Divine Son - to redeem us from sin and deathbecame Flesh and made his dwelling among us!

Thus, you have it: the joining of the Christmas Cycle with the Lenten / Easter Cycle: Incarnation and Redemption as free gifts from God, our loving Father!

When we look around the world today and see so much disarray, so much mal-contention, so much violence, hatred and killing – so much dangerously ignorant incompetence in our own national government – we might ask ourselves – and rightly so – why did he bother? Why did GOD bother to become ONE OF US – creatures of this type, who do such terrible things to one another – why did God bother to even try to save us, to reconcile the situation, to bring peace on earth?

The answer is this: if he did not come, [and quite frankly this is difficult to imagine] then everything we see, everything we experience would have been exponentially even worse. We have to remember that what we are seeing now is already filtered by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus: when he died and rose, Jesus did it for all people: and inherently, in every human heart, there is now a sense that this is so: Jesus is Lord, Jesus is King, Jesus is Savior of the world. Yet so many, including superiors, bosses, laypersons, priests, bishops, government leaders refuse to tune-in to this inherent, onboard GPS [Gesu, Pater, Spiritus} system! and so they lead helter-skelter“ly”! 

Or if you will, so many people on earth are not willing to write out the check that they are entitled by grace to write: to welcome into their lives not only the idea of Jesus as Savior, Redeemer and Reconciler: but the actual person himself! This is very sad! and in our day and age now, can even be catastrophic in its consequences.

Jesus provided a way to write checks: as the final events of his life came fast upon him Jesus knew exactly what he was about: establishing a permanent and indeed everlasting way for us to be connected to him as he pours forth grace into our hearts, our souls and our lives. I love you so much, he said, that I want you to become and intimate part of me, and I you. I will then give you a sacramental system of seven signs of our connection and our willingness to be a part of each other’s’ lives.

The very first two of these supernatural signs were the Sacraments of Eucharist and of Holy Orders – which we celebrate the memorial of the Institution of here and now: the Food of Eternal Life, supernatural food of spiritual growth and nourishment, real and essential communion with God and with one another; and moments later the priesthood, which would be forever linked with his own priesthood and the source of all sacramental life of the church including primarily Eucharist, the other sacraments and the proclamation and teaching of the Gospel of his Word to the ends of the earth.

He did this for love, a very deep, abiding and amazing love: the Eucharist is Love made Flesh, Jesus in his Risen state; and the priesthood, as St. John Vianney tells us is the very love of his heart (which led him to the cross and to resurrection), his Divine and Sacred Heart, made flesh really and truly in the priest at his ordination by the working of the Holy Spirit. The very being of the priest is changed forever and configured to Christ: Priest, Victim, Preacher, Teacher, Redeemer and Brother – for the good of all of the members of the Church everywhere.

The priesthood then, modeled after Jesus’ own actions at the Last Supper is a ministry of “service”! Priests must “go out” and serve as Jesus served, love as Jesus loved, and sacrifice as Jesus sacrificed!

On this very sacred and holy evening we thank God from the depths of our being for the astounding gifts of the holy Eucharist and holy Priesthood: may we reverence, honor, love and appreciate each to the fullest especially during this upcoming Easter Season – and may we tell others the “good news” about the wonderful God-given, inner workings of our beloved Catholic Church – and even invite them to consider joining us!

I give you a new commandment:
LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU!
Love one another now, before it is too late!

Palm Sunday – April 9, 2017
 I –My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
R –My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
II – Christ humbled himself. Because of this God greatly exalted him.
A – Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.
G –The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

+ We are now at the end of our Lenten observance and we begin the observance of the holiest week of the Church year.  Though we have been here many times before, we are invited to make this year different from the rest because we have a deeper interest in the events, because we have both a better understanding of them and because they pertain to us very personally and really: all of the things that Jesus did, he did for us and for our salvation! – and that us includes not only our parishes, families and friends, but also all people everywhere – including those in charge of administrating our secular government and agencies at this particularly challenging time in world history.

And so, on this day when we recall the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, let us see it for what it was: he was now finished with eluding the crowds of Jews who were out to get him, he is no longer in hiding: he is very much visible, marching into his city, to claim his position as King: King of the Jews; as Lord of all lords and Savior of all mankind.

The crowds of people who lined his route were inspired by the Holy Spirit himself to make a magnificent spectacle out of this entry, waving palm branches – HOSANNA TO THE SON OF DAVID they shouted: BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD – for this is who he truly was.

May we take from this celebration today these three titles of Jesus to ponder during the coming days of Holy Week: 1)JESUS IS LORD, Jesus is Lord (not Caesar, not any governor, not any president, not any prime minister) Jesus is the one and true Lord of lords, to whom these others will stand an render accounting of their time in office, which was allowed by him; 2) JESUS IS KINGJesus is King of the Jews, he is king of all nations – and his kingdom will have no end – and all – sooner or later – all the kings of the earth will one day obey him; and lastly, 3) JESUS IS SAVIOR. JESUS IS SAVIOR OF THE WORLD – no one else in human history was qualified to do what he did: reconcile God and Man – because he was both God and Man at the same time, in the same Person: everything that Jesus said and did then, he did NOT FOR HIMSELF – but FOR US AND FOR OUR SALVATION!- all of us!

Therefore it is only right and just that we take the time, a lot of time this coming week to think about these things, to reflect on them, and to adore and worship the One to whom they refer: Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Mary, Foster-son of Joseph and Son of God! LORD, KING, SAVIOR! of the world!

HOSANNA TO THE SON OF DAVID!

Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 2, 2017
I –I will put my spirit in you that you may live.
R –With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
II – The Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.
A – I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will never die.
G –I am the resurrection and the life.

+ “I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die!” This is the astounding message of today’s readings! This is the summary of salvation! This is the supreme reward that comes from belief in Jesus!

The first reading tells us prophetically of the resurrection of the dead at the end of time when we will all rise from our graves to begin a life of unimaginable joy and peace together as God’s beloved family.

The second reading reminds us that the one thing that can surely prevent this wondrous experience is sin, for sin is death, and death and life cannot coexist at the same time, in the same heart, in the same soul, in the same person.

Therefore, our entire mission in life is to immerse ourselves in the life of Jesus that comes to us in baptism, and to remain there as sinless as we possibly can (using the great Sacrament of Penance when we need to) so that for us, life here on earth, will only graduate into a newer life, forever, with God, in heaven, at the end!

The raising of Jesus’ friend Lazarus (in the gospel passage) had two purposes: to show Jesus’ singular power over life and death; and to reveal once and for all time that He, Himself is resurrected life, He is our goal, He is our sure escort into everlasting life! – for those who are humble, repentant and hopeful!

The ticket price remains the same as it always has been these two thousand years: BELIEF - IN JESUS - AS SON OF GOD, REDEEMER OF THE WORLD, and THE GREAT DISTRIBUTER OF ALL GOD’S GRACES but especially THE GRACE OF MERCY AND FORGIVENSS OF SIN!

Believe, then, and you shall live, eternally!

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption!

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 26, 2017
I – David is anointed as king of Israel.
R –The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
II – Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.
A – I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.
G –The man who was blind went off and washed himself and came back able to see.

+ “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light!”  And where there is light, there is hope! And so, we rejoice in hope on this Laetare Sunday – the mid-point of Lent. This is the compelling summary of our readings today! The images of darkness and light, blindness and sight and hope are quite apparent and eloquent!

Yet the message is so plain and simple: St. Paul tells the Ephesians that “once they were darkness” – because of their inherited affiliation with the origin of the species: Adam, and Eve his wife.

Everyone born into the world from then on would participate in that darkness: and how dark it really was! Only a Person of Light could dispel the darkness that enveloped the world.

And that Person could be none other than Jesus who was both man and God at the same time – who was Light from Light! Jesus became on Calvary the very depth of the darkness of sin – he became sin – so to destroy sin, all sin – and restore the world to the brilliance not only of light, but of color and beauty and truth and goodness and most of all LOVE!

The action of Jesus curing people of their “blindness” during his public ministry was two-ways effective. Yes, curing someone born physically blind is a great thing; but what is even greater is releasing one who is spiritually blind from his enormous load of self-imposed “perspective-handicap.”

“There are none so blind as those who will not see!”: goes the modern proverb! And how true it is!

So very many in Jesus’ own day were deliberately spiritually blind – they could not and would not “see him” as the Messiah they had been waiting for, for millennia. They could not “see” that he was awaited descendant of King David, whose Kingdom would last forever.

They could not “see” that there was a whole and completely different world of faith and supernatural beauty, truth goodness and love that awaited them if they would only stop being so stubborn!
 
And so, very many, who were right there with him, never did “see” Jesus; and never got to participate in the light of life that Jesus did indeed bring!

And so, to the gentiles the apostles were sent to bring the light of life and the radiant Person of the Crucified and Risen Jesus Christ. May we today pray for any who need to turn to Jesus and “see” him clearly, confess belief in him totally, and begin to perceive everything differently from now on!

Part of that “any” may even be us! It is never too late: “O sleeper, awake and arise from the depths of now self-imposed darkness and have Christ give you light!”

I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life – eternal life!

God bless you!

 

Third Sunday of Lent – March 19, 2017
I – Give us water, so that we may drink.
R –If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
II – The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
A – Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world; give me living water,that I may never thirst again.
G –The water that I shall give will become a spring of eternal life.

+ Our gospel passage today is rich in both descriptive symbolism and a great reality! The symbolism is of “water welling up” – the reality is that this water IS the eternal life that God offers to those who believe and love – and the source of this reality is the pierced Sacred Heart of the Crucified Christ!

God puts into all hearts – all people, everywhere – an initial drop of this water – just as a primer to get us to want more and more of it! And to use another analogy that is equally visual: we all come into the world with a “spark of the divine life in us!” It is up to us to do all we can to keep that flame alive: and believe it or not – it means that we must douse it with the spiritual water of God’s grace – what a flame that produces! To those without faith, this makes no sense; to those with faith, it eventually makes perfect sense!

The woman at the well (in the gospel passage) – being a Samaritan, a cousin to the people of Israel, who believe in many of the same things – had the “spark,” but needed a “bucket of spiritual water” thrown on her by Jesus – which he did, very gently!

In the dialogue that ensued, the woman ended up developing her conception of Jesus three-fold in a matter minutes! First, she saw him as a Jewish man sitting at well, tired and thirsty! Then, after Jesus – who initiated the conversation – started telling her about herself and her personal life: she promoted him to Prophet! This man is a true seer! He may have an interesting handle on “truth!” Everyone, even back then, as is the case today, is searching for TRUTH! real Truth! (And the truth is none other than that we are invited to be God’s children.)

After more dialogue now about religious matters – the contrast between the Samaritan and Jewish take on things – Jesus reveals himself (promotes himself) as the Messiah who is to come, the one called the Christ who will tell all truth to everyone! The tables are turned and the woman says: “Oh yes, I know that such a one is coming!” Then Jesus promotes her to believer by telling her outright: “I am he, the one speaking with you!” Her heart must have leapt for joy in her now complete act of faith in Jesus! I can see her bowing low in adoration!

What does this have to do with us? It means that first, we must see if we have completed the stages that the Samaritan woman has; do we need to open ourselves up more and more to Jesus telling us about ourselves and himself so to make a very large and generous act of belief and a promise to love as he demonstrated?

Then, we need to imitate the whole encounter, with other people! Evangelization is bringing Christ the Truth, and the truth of Christ to others – others who are at the wells of our own day and age: and in particular, that means for us, this day, this month, this year: the gathering spots of anyone who is engaged in the runaway, reckless and potentially suicidal down spiral of the United States government – wherever others need to be doused!

We are citizens of a promised heavenly Kingdom – since the day of our baptisms; but we are also simultaneous citizens of the “patria” the “native-land” in which we find ourselves – by God’s grace – living. And as Catholic Christians we have the responsibility to rescue and redirect an errant, and increasingly irrational and unhinged president and his cohorts – and blind-sighted, tunnel-visioned constituents and followers who are headed – with their treacherous leader, and all of us – in a bus, off the edge of a bottom-less precipice!

This is not melodrama – this is truth! This is the truth that is quite apparent when you face it off with the Truth, values, morals, integrity, compassion, friendliness and salvific revelation and message of Jesus, the Christ – who is Truth Incarnate: who is Love Incarnate, who is Peace Incarnate.

Is there Truth, Love, Peace in the DC or not? If not, the let’s follow the leader who literally embodies these vital human realities! 

It ought to be our goal – with Jesus and his Spirit working through us - for people we encounter – in our method and mode of parenting errant children, to say, as did the inhabitants of Samaria, who received the woman’s testimony: We no longer believe [all of this] because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, [it resonates deep within us], and we know [beyond the shadow of a doubt] that this is truly the savior of the world! – and the one who can lead us out of any personal, family or national  catastrophe!

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!
God bless you!

 

Second Sunday of Lent – March 12, 2017

I – The call of Abraham, that father of God’s people.
R –Lord, let you mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
II – God has saved us and called us to be holy.
A – From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard: This is my beloved Son, hear him.
G –Jesus’ face shone like the sun.

+ Today we have the great narration of the transfiguration of Jesus, in the gospel passage!  This has a triple importance for us to consider today. Peter, James and John – those closest to Jesus – were given the privilege of witnessing this magnificent display of glory – for three reasons:

  • Jesus wanted to remove from their hearts the upcoming scandal of his being crucified and dying on a cross (Jesus was supposed to be a great leader and savior for the Jewish people – to see him die on a cross would appear counterproductive – even though Jesus has made it clear many times that his kingdom is not an earthly one.) But, now after seeing the glorification of Christ on the mountain, “the humility of a Passion willingly accepted by Jesus” would no longer trouble their faith!

 

  • Jesus wanted to give them a real “peek behind the veil” into his divinity that was very much always with him (and which could have been invoked innumerable times when he was frustrated, angry or suffering but wasn’t.) He was and wanted to be just like all other men (except for sin) – so to call them and recognize them as “brothers worth saving!”
  • Looking down the centuries, Jesus wanted to strengthen our faith – that would be transmitted to us by the preaching and teaching of Peter, James and John and all the others to our own day and age – so that we could deeply ponder and consider our own sharing in not only Christ’s Passion, but also death and Resurrection – and subsequent glorification of ourselves when we will rise from the dead, as Jesus did, on the Last Day!

 

The only ticket price to pay for this reward is: FAITH and GOOD WORKS! FAITH IN JESUS, and GOOD WORKS THAT PROVE WE LOVE HIM, HIS FATHER, AND ALL THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS THAT ARE ON THIS PILGRIMAGE TO A HEAVENLY HOMELAND WITH US: all being members of the One Faith: the faith of Abraham whom we read about in our first reading today! He was the first to believe that God is One, and that He is loving and faithful to his promises of Mercy and Redemption!

May we respond to the call of faith enthusiastically: and lead a holy life, bearing hardship for the sake of the gospel – but always hoping, even against hope, i.e. as we watch the vincible and deliberate dismantling and disintintegration of our - to this point – sacred institution of a three-tiered model of democracy and right governing in Washington, DC -  that all will be well, and all will end well – because Jesus, our goal, our redeemer, our King and rightful potentate of all potentates -  will lead us to all fulfillment!

But, in this day of this day – we are the arms, legs, minds and voices of his Mystical Body – so doesn’t this mean it’s up to stand up and sound the alarm! Collection baskets aside – let us all rise up and live our faith – bishops, priests, deacons, the entire faithful flock! The transfiguration event was staged for us too: JESUS IS OUR GOD, he is in charge, no situation is beyond his help because of his dramatic death and glorious resurrection: and our incorporation, by means of our baptism, into his divine life! Amen.

 

First Sunday of Lent – March 5, 2017

I – The creation of our first parents, and sin.
R –Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
II – Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.
A – One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
G –Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights and was tempted.

+ The last thing we celebrated before we began Ordinary Time in January, was the feast of the Baptism of Jesus (the last feast of the Christmas cycle); scripturally though, the next gospel passage after the one for that day is the one for today’s Mass: the First Sunday of Lent.

The Spirit had just come down upon Jesus in the form of a dove as he came up out the waters of baptism; the Father’s voice was heard thundering: THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED – LISTEN TO HIM!

The next day the same Holy Spirit whisks Jesus away into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Why would he do that? Why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus to temptation?  So that we could see that everything Jesus did was not for Himself but rather for us and for our salvation!

Jesus did not need to be baptized, but he submitted to it to show that someday it would be something that we need to do – all of us!

Jesus did not have to be tempted by the devil, he never sinned, nor would he; he submitted to it again as an example for us to know what to do when we are likewise tempted.

But just knowing what to do is not enough, Jesus accomplished by his death on the Cross the real, true, active grace that we need to overcome temptations to power, pleasure and prestige, when they come to us – and they can come in ways that are small, seemingly insignificant and subtly!

But with his grace, we really can overcome any temptation! – and our lives can be truly lighter, brighter and more radiant on behalf of others.

Just as Jesus did not experience life for himself, but for others, so we are called to do the same: live not for ourselves but for others, our families, our friends, our enemies, strangers, neighbors and fellow community members.

May this be our Lenten desire: to invite the overflowing river of God’s grace and mercy into our lives to abound where once there was sin!

Be merciful, O Lord, for [in our dealing with temptation]
we have sometimes sinned!

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 26, 2017
I – You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
R –The Lord is kind and merciful.
II – All things belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.
A – Whoever keeps the word of Christ, the love of God is truly perfected in him.
G –Love your enemies.

+ Our readings today get to the heart of what concerns us as human beings: feeling secure, being cared about, being loved, being appreciated, and being provided for. We all have these basic needs: after all we are “strangers in a strange land”; earth is not our “home,” and the yearning and longing that is in our heart for something more satisfying, more permanent, more complete proves it. This desire is placed in us by God himself, for he does not want us to get too comfortable on our pilgrimage; he wants to keep us reaching for and moving towards him.

The very short first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah summarizes it nicely: sometimes we feel abandoned and alone: “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” (How often have we thought or said these things?)  But what follows is a classic reply by God: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? (which is an inconceivable thing, just mentioned for drama). Even should she forget (which is highly unlikely) I will never forget you.” God will never forget us, because his love brought us into existence and sustains us; and it is his desire to sustain us by the life of the Church – inaugurated by the death and Resurrection and ascension of his Son – Jesus.

The second reading talks about the attitudes that the disciple of Christ – a member of the Church ought to have: to be non-judgmental about the motivation of the heart: for it will all come out in the end: when the Lord comes, he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the true motives of our hearts – and then everyone will receive what he deserves from God.

And of course, in the gospel passage we have the magnificent positive attitude that a disciple of Christ ought to have: that of utter, complete and absolute trust, both for the day and for the morrow! One who believes that Jesus is Elder Brother, also believes that God is loving and providential Father who will “give us our daily bread” – all that we need to make it from morning to night – one day at a time. Therefore, being concerned about tomorrow is a sign of disloyalty to God, and in a sense sinful.

 When we think that we must manage each and every aspect of our lives: when we think that we are the center and others, including God, revolve around us: then we are sadly and sinfully mistaken. But when we give God everything to manage, make him the center of our lives, then all of our days and nights will be filled with joy and peace – and we will be children pleasing to him – and there is nothing he will not do for us when we ask!

This gospel passage was instrumental in St. Francis’ full conversion to life in Christ – and in the ultimate formation of his Order of Friars Minor. May it be an instrument for our own continuing conversion to the Lord, our own search for perfection, our own act of faith and love in Jesus and his Father.

Rest in God alone, my soul!

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 19, 2017
I – You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
R –The Lord is kind and merciful.
II – All things belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.
A – Whoever keeps the word of Christ, the love of God is truly perfected in him.
G –Love your enemies.

+ Our gospel passage today reminds us that Jesus came to be the fulfillment of the Law of God; fulfillment and not replacement: the essence of God’s ordering of things would always be in effect, because they are from the very essence of creation as given by God. But until God could come himself – in person – in the Person of Jesus – to fully explain it and demonstrate it: a more rudimentary sort of expression of it would have to suffice. And so we have the commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and others that came from God’s interaction with the Patriarchs and the Prophets. It has always been clear where the right path was: but a fuller expounding on details simply had to wait.

Our gospel passage today is very compelling: it illustrates Jesus’ divine power over the law: he cites many examples on how “just keeping the law” had been okay in the past: but now the time has come for him (who truly is the only one who has the authority to do it) to introduce these words: “but I say to you:”offer no resistance to one who is evil, be extravagant in your generosity – love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father – be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. And as it says in the Book of Leviticus in the first reading: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy! And prove it by loving your neighbor as yourself!

This is a tall order: but because Jesus commands it: the grace will always be there to accomplish it, this he promises. We must remember, as St. Paul tells the Corinthians: we are temples of God, having the Spirit of God dwelling in us, thereby making us possessions of Christ and of his Father! What a company we are a part of! May we thus be always wise in the things of God – who is not only our Father, but also our goal – and not of the things of this world that will bring us ruin!

May we continue to strive daily to keep the word of Christ, so that the love of God will be perfected in us: and we will be pleasing children to our heavenly Father – and he will show us his kindness and mercy with great abundance!

God bless us, and be with us each day of our life, no matter what the future might hold.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 12, 2017
I – No one does he command to act unjustly.
R –Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord.
II – God predestined wisdom before the ages for our glory.
A – Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones, the mysteries of the kingdom.
G –So it was said to your ancestors; but now I say this to you.

+ In our readings today we see the clarification of what is means to live a holy life. Jesus tells his disciples that unless their righteousness – their search for the true and good meaning in life – surpasses the false search conducted by the Pharisees: they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Just “keeping the commandments as given” by Moses is not enough; just following prescriptions and minutia is not enough; what is needed is “a heart directed towards the spirit behind the laws,” which is indeed the Spirit of Christ’s heart, who fulfills all of the laws.

The Law of Moses was meant to be an excellent starting point: but “life in Christ” was always meant to be the main point: the point of true virtuous and right living. The Spirit of Jesus is the Holy Spirit of love and joy and peace and healing and justice and beauty and truth. However these can augment any of the laws of Moses, must be given preference.

Jesus gives an example in the gospel passage: he says: you have heard it said: you shall not kill; whoever kills will be liable to judgment. BUT I SAY TO YOU I who have the authority to expound on this lawwhoever is even angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. You have heard it was said, You shall not commit adultery. BUT I SAY TO YOU I who have the authority to expound on this law everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In all of the commandments – the first reading from the Book of Sirach tells us – there is a definite choice to be made: between fire and water, between life and death, between good and evil. With the wisdom that comes from God – His Holy Spirit – may we always make a right choice that will further us along the path to salvation!

Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!: in its fullness!

 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 5, 2017
I - Your light shall break forth like the dawn.
R –The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
II – I have announced to you the mystery of Christ crucified.
A – I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.
G –You are the light of the world.

+ We have just come from the Christmas Seasonwhere Jesus is revealed and proclaimed as the True Light of the World. The darkness of sin and all of its ramifications was rampant; only those who held on to the hope given them by the faith of Abraham could even survive the centuries of waiting for the arrival of the true Messiah, the true Redeemer, the true Light for all Nations: Jesus Christ!

And now that he has come, and the darkness is indeed shattered for those who want it to be: there is still work to be done: for many deliberately choose to remain in the darkness, to think it does not apply to them, to “take their chances” with their eternal placement, to almost in a sense to “dare God” to treat them any way other than mercifully after a rebellious and carefree life. This is not a good thing: God is indeed merciful, but as we stand in the presence of God when we are judged: it will be we ourselves who will condemn ourselves for our carelessness, our foolish behaviors, our vincible negligences – and not God!

And so Jesus invites us very clearly and deliberately to live out our baptismal calling to be Light and Salt for the earth; to make a difference wherever we go, especially as we look out for and take care of one another, and as many in the world as we can, especially in this day and in this age. We are his hands and feet and heart now. We must not let him down. Then we can look forward eagerly to our day of humble reward, for “just doing our Christian duty” of sharing our bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked when we see them and not turning our back on our own.

For when we do these things: we are actually and really doing them for Jesus himself: and he will be very pleased, and the world will be transformed! 

God bless you!

 

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 29, 2017

I  I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly.
R –Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
II – God chose the weak of the world.
A – Rejoice and be glad; your reward will be great in heaven.
G –Blessed are the poor in spirit.

+ We generally hear this gospel passage three times a year - so important is it in the description of the life of “discipleship in Christ.” We hear it today, again in the summer months and then on the Feast of All Saints, Nov 1st.

What is so special about it is that it first states, and then constantly reminds us, that most everything that “the world” values, applauds and touts is the exact opposite of what Jesus and his Church (that is us) values, applauds and touts. It is not the rich who are blessed, but the poor in spirit; not the comforted, but rather those who mourn for their sins; not the landowners, but the meek who will inherit land in another kingdom; not the powerful but the lowly; not warriors, but the peacemakers; not the sensual, but the pure of heart; not the merciless, but the merciful: these make up the very Kingdom of God.

And since this perspective is so contrary to that of “the secular world” Jesus tells us to expect to be misunderstood, misquoted, misinterpreted and mistreated and even some, killed – like he was! But he says then a very comforting thing: in the long run, in the big picture, when all is said and done: you will rejoice because you will have a great reward in my Father’s house: eternal life in joy and peace!

God chooses the weak and the meek and the humble to confound the proud, the haughty and the arrogant – not just for the sport of it, but because he is teaching us that all richness, all power, all strength, all intelligence, all of everything comes from him – and the glory for its use needs to be given back to him!

There will always be at least a small remnant of people who truly understand these things! May we be among them – and may we think, talk and act like it is so for us – every single day!

Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs! is ours!

 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 22, 2017

I  In Galilee of the Gentiles, the people have seen a great light.
R –The Lord is my light and my salvation.
II – That all of you may agree in what you say and that there be no divisions among you.
A – Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom and cured every disease among the people.
G –Jesus went to Capernaum, so that what had been said through Isaiah might be fulfilled.

+ Today the Church in her readings reiterates the fact thatJesus is the Light of all nations – not just for the glory of Israel, but for the salvation of all men everywhere. This is still in our day and age a very comforting fact to know: those who still walk in darkness, but now mostly due to their own choosing, still have in Jesus, a Redeemer, a Friend, and a Savior.

But, for those who now belong to Christ, through baptism; those who are enlightened by his very light, who have at their disposal supernatural tools – such as the sacraments, prayer, good works – are called upon by St. Paul in the second reading today to get along with one another: agree in what you say about Jesus and the religion, stop being divisive, but have the same mind and purpose: proclaiming Christ, and Christ alone: and him crucified. The sublimity and enormity of love is displayed in the Cross of Christ!

To bring the Light of the Gospel to the nations: Jesus chose a band of friends, beginning with Peter, Andrew, James and John; but even today the call goes out by Jesus for more helpers, as there is still a great deal of work to be done: the world must know that the Light is here, and the darkness that engulfs a great deal of the world need not exist. If there are any men young or otherwise out there who will hear: consider yourself today, now, called by the Church, by Jesus, right now – and now it is up to you and the Church together to discern if the call is real and for you!
Come, follow Jesus, in a deeper, more personal way – for your own good and that of the diocese in which you live and all the dioceses of the world!
Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom and cured every disease among the people!

 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 15, 2017

I  I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
R –Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will.
II – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
A – The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him, he gave power to become children of God.
G –Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

+ The Christmas Season has come and gone, and now we summarize in one thought what has happened: an amazingly “wondrous exchange” has occurred: the Word of God (existing forever with God) takes on our sinful nature, so that he can redeem us and make us divine and sharers in his life forever! We could spend the rest of our lives meditating on that one sentence!

To help us in that meditation, the Church sets forth in the “green” Sundays of the year, the entire story of that exchange: what it cost, who it affected, how it was accomplished and how we can get plugged into it. This we will do in succeeding Sundays this coming liturgical year, no less than any other. But maybe this year: asking now God’s grace and blessings, we can come into a deeper insight of what is going on here: maybe we can open ourselves more, to receive more: our minds and our hearts: rid them from obstacles of sin and worldly distractions: and allow ourselves to be ministered to by Jesus, chosen to be the Light not only of our world, but of the whole world, to all nations everywhere.

May the Blessed Trinity bless you now with a deep desire to know each Person of Itself more clearly, so you can love them more dearly and serve them more generously – and one day find your reward with all the holy ones who have gone before you.

The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him, he gave power to become children of God – forever!
God bless you

 

The Epiphany of the Lord – January 8, 2017

I  The glory of the Lord shine upon you.
R –Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
II – Now it has been revealed that the Gentiles are coheirs of the promise.
A – We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.
G –We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.

+ On this Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, our reflection is focused on two interrelated events: the manifestation of Christ the Newborn King as LIGHT OF THE NATIONS, LIGHT OF THE WORLD; and the adoration that is his due, by those whose lives were directly affected by his coming! This is why he came: to fulfill the prophecies about the people walking in darkness, who very much needed someone to lead them to safety and to the forgiveness of their sins. That One is Christ Emmanuel: the brightest Light that could ever shine on earth! It is only fitting that the Person of Light should be adored – even from the first moments of his birth!

The first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah tells us that the great Light is none other than the very glory of God in himself made visible. The reality of the Triune God, all by itself, generates, produces and disseminates an astounding array of Glory and Light: “and when the inhabitants of the earth, all of the nations, finally made a joint cry of longing and desire for a savior, a redeemer, the Father sent his Son to be his own Light–and-Glory-in-person, for all in the world to see!

The Word was made flesh; the Son of God became the Son of Man; the glory of God filled the earth: but only those with faith could see it. Only those with faith could see it then; only those with faith can see it now! The three magi, kings, who represented the believing world, saw the star, and were led to the place where the Child of Light resided with his parents! And as only fitting, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; acknowledging him as king, priest and prophet!

It is the Father’s will that one day, all nations shall adore the King of the Universe, Christ the Lordand it will happen. Perhaps a good New Year’s Resolution for all people everywhere, beginning with us, is to adore him NOW as king, priest, prophet, healer, friend and elder brother! When we believe in him, trust in him and love in him (by loving others) then his light comes into us and we make the world that much brighter – our parishes, our families, our schools, our places of work, our government and the whole world!

O come let us adore him, all of us, Christ the Lord!

 

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God – January 1, 2017

I –They shall invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.
R –May God bless us in his mercy.
II – God sent his Son, born of a woman.
A – In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son.
G –They found Mary and Joseph and the infant. When the eight days were completed, he was name Jesus.

 + 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.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son.

 

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – December 29, 2016


I - Those who fear the Lord honor their parents.
R –Blessed are those who fear the Lord, and walk in his ways.
II – Family life in the Lord.
A – Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
G –Take the child and his mother and flee into Egypt.


+ On this Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I should like to focus on the person of St. Joseph. Last Wednesday we celebrated the feast of the Child Jesus, next Wednesday we will celebrate the feast of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and so today it is fitting and proper to speak for a few moments on holy, just, good and faith-filled Joseph who was chosen by God to be the husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus the Lord.


Joseph possessed all of the virtues of a true holy man of the faith of Abraham and the house of David. And his most outstanding virtue, along with faith, would have to be TRUST! Joseph trusted God absolutely, implicitly, unquestioningly and immediately! In the gospel passage we hear that Joseph received news from an angel in a dream to take the child and his mother and flee into Egypt for the safety of the life of the child. Joseph did not have to question the angel at all; he awoke and did what the angel told him!


Then later, when it was safe, the prophecy : out of Egypt I called my son was fulfilled, when the angel again appeared to Joseph and told him to take his family and return to Nazareth in Galilee – to fulfill yet another  prophecy: he shall be called a Nazorean.


It was then that Joseph became the strong earthly father figure for Jesus in his formative years in the home of Nazareth. He taught him his own carpentry trade. He with Mary taught Jesus to pray and to observe all of the dictates of the Jewish religion of which they were a part. His loving example of husband and foster-father is a great role model for all men who marry and have children.


And the respect and submission that Mary and Jesus had to Joseph’s God-inspired leadership in their family was equally noteworthy. Mary was the ideal mother and wife – who trusted God that all would work out well for her family! It would not be easy later on – but with the support of Joseph for a while, and the community of disciples of Jesus after that, she would have what she needed for the remainder of her earthly life. And it is to be noted that Jesus, as a child obeyed Joseph without question or argument!


May all family lives resemble the Holy Family Life – with parents and children respecting and loving and anticipating one another in deeds of kindness and helpfulness. And may the dynamic of the marriage of Mary and Joseph, be the model for all Christian marriages – which were sanctified and sacramentalized by their own Son Jesus – where the husband cherishes and cares totally for the wife and children more easily, the more they each in turn trust in and submit to his prayer inspired, Spirit aided decisions for their welfare.


Let the peace of Christ control our hearts, all of us; let the word of Christ dwell in us richly through FAITH and the TRUST that St. Joseph inspires!

 

The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord – December 25, 2016

MASS AT MIDNIGHT
I -  A son is given.
R –Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
II – The grace of God has appeared to all.
A – I proclaim to you good news of great joy: today a Savior is born for us.
G –Today a Savior has been born for you.

+ There are two great moments during the ordinary calendar year when all people, all nations and indeed all of creation “grinds to an amazing halt,” and for one brief, reverential, fearful, silent, awesome and wonderful moment “holds its breath!” It is undeniable, as most guardians of philosophies and theologies can tell you and it happens every year like clock-work.

The first of these moments we recall and celebrate right NOW. It is the proclamation of the good news, the greatest of all times, that God has broken into human history (and become one of us) – he has “pitched his tent among his people” – so that he could relate to them simply, directly,  powerfully and personally this message: “I LOVE YOU” – so very, very much – LOVE ONE ANOTHER, THEN, as much!

I love you enough to reduce myself to the form of a tiny, weak and vulnerable baby, born in a stable in Bethlehem – because there was no room for him at the adjacent inn. The animals there gladly offered their house and were very proud and happy that Emmanuel (God-with-us) was born there – right where they ate supper – He who was to give himself as Food and Supper to everyone later on for their spiritual strength and comfort throughout life.

Yes, there is something radically different about Christmas Day – no matter who you are – you can just feel it.

The other moment during the year that causes all of the universe to hold its breath was the event at 3pm on a Friday afternoon in early April on a hill outside Jerusalem – Calvary they called it; for at that moment GOD’S VERY LOVE FOR ALL OF HUMANITY AND CREATION – MADE FLESH, JESUS CHRIST -  DIED A HUMAN DEATH – a very real one – to save all of humanity and creation from its sins and failings – so that the great and necessary reconciliation between God and the world could finally be accomplished – so that the gates of heaven could be dramatically swung open once again to receive all of the faithful who love God and try to live how Jesus asked them to live. [These ways are kept in written form in a book called The Bible, for those who want to know what they are and who want to follow them.]

Yes, we cannot have “the crib without the cross.”

Perhaps each day this coming New Year we can pause for a moment, take a deep breath and thank God our Father for coming up with so marvelous and mysterious a plan, a way for us to have our sins forgiven, and to live with Him forever, and think of “the crib and cross” of Jesus his Son, our Brother, that made it all possible.

And into the darkness of the night came the Light of God’s love –
and God’s peace -

[Merry Christmas to all, and God’s richest blessings be upon you!]

4th Sunday of Advent – December 18, 2016

I  Behold, the virgin shall conceive.
R –Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
II – Jesus Christ, descended from David, is Son of God.
A – The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.
G –Jesus will be born of Mary, the betrothed of Joseph, a son of David.

+ It is almost time, it is almost here, the glorious Feast of Christmas this year! We have spent weeks preparing both spiritually and materially! We have prepared special gifts for people we love, or even perhaps people we don’t even know – more, maybe, this year than in others. But the one question remains: what are we going to give Jesus, the center of it all, on his birthday? What could we possibly give to one who is a God – Man – Baby?

I can give you a hint as to what he would really like from us: it cannot be bought, it cannot be wrapped, it cannot be transported from place to place – but it would delight him more than anything in the entire world to receive it from us:
it is a more deeply conscious spiritual understanding of what his whole coming to earth was all about in the first place! If Jesus, where he is now – at the right of the Father - could see into our minds and hearts and find “quantities of the knowledge of the mysteries that he came to share with us” – a deeper grasp of them, a better handle on them – then he would “leap and dance for joy” that “another one FINALLY GOT THE MESSAGE,” finally began to appreciate what his coming to earth was all about, finally began to allow it to make a difference in the way they live their daily lives!

A very big birthday present from us, then, would have to be for us to sit in silent and quiet meditation, when he arrives in the mangers of our churches throughout the land on Christmas Eve, and for us to say – especially after receiving him in Holy Communion – I GET IT! I GET IT, JESUS! I BELIEVE IN YOU WHO HAVE COME FROM GOD TO SAVE ME FROM MY SINS AND GIVE ME EVERLASTING LIFE. I TRUST YOU ABSOLUTELY FOR EVERYTHING! AND I LOVE YOU, REALLY LOVE YOU, WHO ARE SO CLOSE TO MY HEART, WITH ALL I’VE GOT!

 And I will prove my love, Jesus, by living a changed life, especially caring for all brothers and sisters of the human family you place in my path who need my help.

There is still time to think and pray and study and gather more information about Jesus the Person – before Tuesday evening – so that we can give him our whole being: mind, heart and soul on that Christmas Eve night – and he can give to us his entire self, for always – just as he delights in doing, always!

The time has come: let Him enter, the Lord; for he is king of glory!

3rd Sunday of Advent – December 11, 2016

I  God himself will come to save us.
R –Lord, come and save us.
II – Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
A – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
G –Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?

+ The disciples of John the Baptist propose a very simple and profound question to Jesus: Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another? It is easy for us who have two-thousand years of Church history with its preaching and teaching to say: of course, yes, he’s the one; he is the long-awaited Messiah; he is the great reconciler and redeemer of mankind. But then again, since so much time has passed since the arrival of that Messiah, reconciler and friend it seems also easy for many to forget the depth of significance of that coming, to forget that Jesus came to change our lives entirely, that he came to be the Way, the Truth and the Life: the only way, truth and life that leads to anywhere of import.

It seems that many compartmentalize Jesus and look to him for certain things only, like a kind of Santa Claus to whom they can make lists of wishes, but look to others and other things: look to government, politics, education, jobs, and self-made projects - for more practical results.

Until we look for Jesus for everything, then we are not really seeing him at all clearly, seeing him in his power, in his glory, in his grace, in his mercy, in his providential care. It is only he ultimately who can make the blind (both physically and spiritually) regain their sight, the lame walk, the lepers be cleansed, the deaf hear and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
This is what Jesus told the disciples of the Baptist: go and tell John what you see and hear: JESUS, THE MESSIAH IS HERE FOR YOU AND YOUR SALVATION: ALL OF IT!

There is a deep longing in the hearts of men and women and children for healing and strength and wholeness and forgiveness for wrongs done. These same people know that this salvation cannot be produced or manufactured or legislated by human will; it can only be a gift freely received by God who freely gives it to those simply ask for it: and that can be everyone!

God wants allto experience joy and gladness; God wants sorrow and mourning to flee; thanks be to this God and Father, Son and Brother, Spirit Giver of Life and all good things.

Amen.

 

2nd Sunday of Advent – December 4, 2016

I  He shall judge the poor with justice.
R –Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.
II – Christ saves everyone.
A – Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths; all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
G –Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

+ The Baptist’s cry is familiar to us all: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! His is the voice crying out in the desert of two thousand years of longing: prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths – for he is very near! Very many in John’s time did heed his voice, and come to him for the baptism of repentance, but many did not heed his voice, and did not prepare the way and when the Lord finally came they did not even notice – except to count him an impostor.

For us, two thousand years from the time of John the Baptist and the historical Jesus – we still need to be reminded to prepare the way of the Lord, and to make straight his paths as we take our turn to watch spiritually for his first coming – so that we can enter more deeply into it this year; and as we wait for his future coming when he will come to inaugurate the new heaven and the new earth as he said he would; but we must also prepare ourselves for Jesus to come to us every day as we pray, as we attend Mass, as we study holy things, as we help one another out in his name.

In living from day to day we must judge wisely the things of earth and use and engage in only those things that will advance the coming of the Kingdom of God in its fullness. We must produce the fruits of good works as evidence of our desire to repent and change our lives for the better.

If we live “advent lives” day in and day out, then it matters not what day the Lord does comes again, for we shall be ready! And all those who believe in him and can prove it by works of love will be greatly rewarded!

Prepare the way of the Lord; for all flesh shall see the salvation of God!

.

1st Sunday of Advent - November 27, 2016

I  The Lord will father all nations into the eternal peace of the kingdom of God.
R –Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
II – Our salvation is nearer.
A – Show us, Lord, your love; and grant us your salvation.
G –Stay awake, that you may be prepared.

+ In the production of the block-buster movie of 1965, The Sound of Music, Mother Superior encourages soul-searching postulant Maria to search for her life, to “climb every mountain ‘til she finds her dream:” until she finds God’s will, and is “intent on doing it with all her heart.” This Maria does and finds a life beyond anything she could have imagined.

Our first reading today invites us to “climb the Lord’s mountain” to the heights of Zion – because from there we will hear instruction, and the word of peace that is to be proclaimed to all the nations – and that peace is none other than the coming Prince of Peace, Jesus the Lord.

Whenever we come into a church or a chapel we climb the mountain of the Lord – to hear his words of peace and encouragement, to be fed by his spiritual energy in sacramental form, so that we can come back down the mountain, go outside to our neighborhoods and live a changed life – for the good of ourselves, yes, but more importantly for the good of our families and every person we run across on any given day!

As we begin, once again,  the Advent season today: let us awake from sleep – let us be attentive to what we do in this place, even moreso this coming liturgical year – for our salvation – the completion of our salvation - is closer than it was last year.

Only God the Father knows when he wants us all to join him – in the meantime – let us never cease giving him glory and praise and thanks – in all that we think, say and do in our ordinary activities, because this is what he wants of us and this is what we will be doing when we get there anyway!

How you solve a problem like Maria,” is to set her free to be what God intended for her to be all along; may we search for and find what God intends us to be all along – even before we experience the fullness of it in heaven!

God bless you!

  

 

 

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3rd Sunday of Advent – December 11, 2016

I  God himself will come to save us.
R –Lord, come and save us.
II – Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
A – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
G –Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?

+ The disciples of John the Baptist propose a very simple and profound question to Jesus: Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another? It is easy for us who have two-thousand years of Church history with its preaching and teaching to say: of course, yes, he’s the one; he is the long-awaited Messiah; he is the great reconciler and redeemer of mankind. But then again, since so much time has passed since the arrival of that Messiah, reconciler and friend it seems also easy for many to forget the depth of significance of that coming, to forget that Jesus came to change our lives entirely, that he came to be the Way, the Truth and the Life: the only way, truth and life that leads to anywhere of import.

It seems that many compartmentalize Jesus and look to him for certain things only, like a kind of Santa Claus to whom they can make lists of wishes, but look to others and other things: look to government, politics, education, jobs, and self-made projects - for more practical results.

Until we look for Jesus for everything, then we are not really seeing him at all clearly, seeing him in his power, in his glory, in his grace, in his mercy, in his providential care. It is only he ultimately who can make the blind (both physically and spiritually) regain their sight, the lame walk, the lepers be cleansed, the deaf hear and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
This is what Jesus told the disciples of the Baptist: go and tell John what you see and hear: JESUS, THE MESSIAH IS HERE FOR YOU AND YOUR SALVATION: ALL OF IT!

There is a deep longing in the hearts of men and women and children for healing and strength and wholeness and forgiveness for wrongs done. These same people know that this salvation cannot be produced or manufactured or legislated by human will; it can only be a gift freely received by God who freely gives it to those simply ask for it: and that can be everyone!

God wants allto experience joy and gladness; God wants sorrow and mourning to flee; thanks be to this God and Father, Son and Brother, Spirit Giver of Life and all good things.

Amen.