Tuesday, December 11, 2018

“There's no place too dark for God's light to penetrate and no heart too difficult to be set aflame by His love”

The man who is not afraid to admit everything that he sees to be wrong with himself, and yet recognizes that he may be the object of God’s love precisely because of his shortcomings, can begin to be sincere. His sincerity is based on confidence, not in his own illusions about himself, but in the endless, unfailing mercy of God.  - Thomas Merton: (1915 – 1968: was an American Trappist monk)

Gospel Text: (MT 18:12-14)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost."

We must reflect often on this parable because in our Christian community there is always someone that is missing and has left leaving an empty spot. Sometimes this is discouraging and brings us to believe that it was an inevitable loss, a sickness without remedy. 

Always remember, God is not a good loser, and this is why, in order not to lose, He goes out on his own, and He goes, He searches…He searches for all those who are far away from Him, like the shepherd who goes to search for the lost sheep.

God does not know our current throwaway culture; God has nothing to do with it. God does not throwaway any person; God loves all, looks for all; one by one! God does not know this phrase 'throwaway people' because God is all love and all mercy.

Monday, December 10, 2018

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

The Seven Social Sins are:
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principle.
From a sermon given by Frederick Lewis Donaldson in Westminster Abbey, London, on March 20, 1925.” 

Gospel Text: (LK 5:17-26)
One day as Jesus was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.
And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
"As for you, your sins are forgiven."

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
"Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?"
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
"What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"–
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
"I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
"We have seen incredible things today."

To be saved implies being saved from something or someone. This is what the sentence, and the whole of Advent, demand that we ask ourselves: if we need salvation, what do we need salvation from?

Today’s Gospel answers this question. Jesus works a miracle to focus our attention not on His ability to work miracles, but on the fact that He is the Messiah. He comes to bring us salvation from our sins. Our Advent prayers, fasting and good works aim to help us enter into today’s Gospel and identify with the man who was lowered on the stretcher. Perhaps the Messiah’s response is unexpected, but it’s what each sinner longs to hear during Advent: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven.’”

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Confession is an act of honesty and courage – an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God.

Those, on the other hand, who recognize that they are weak and sinful entrust themselves to God and obtain from him grace and forgiveness. It is precisely this message that must be transmitted: what counts most is to make people understand that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, whatever the sin committed, if it is humbly recognized and the person involved turns with trust to the priest-confessor, he or she never fails to experience the soothing joy of God's forgiveness. - Pope Benedict XVI – On the Sacrament of Confession 

Gospel Text: (LK 3:1-6)
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Take a very common example of sacrifice to reflect on what God calls us to during Advent. There are a lot of different sacrifices that parents are called to make to prepare for their unborn child. Parents have to be ready to sacrifice space: for example, to figure out where the child is going to sleep. Parents have to be ready to sacrifice money, of course: lots of money, for all sorts of needs.

Parents also have to be ready to sacrifice some of their favorite vices. They have to be ready to become less selfish, and more self-less. The problem for all of us is that the longer we cling to our vices, the more entrenched those vices become in our lives, and the harder they become to give up. This is one of the difficulties faced by those who wait until later in life to bear children.

Yet what is challenging for parents as they prepare for their child, is challenging for each of us as we prepare for the Christ child. The greater the sacrifices that we are willing to make, through examining our consciences, confessing our sins, and accepting the grace of reconciliation, the greater the joy that we will be open to, throughout the entire Christmas Season and throughout this new year of grace.

Friday, December 7, 2018

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” - C.S. Lewis: (1898 – 1963: was a British writer and lay theologian)

Gospel Text: (MT 9:27-31)
As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
"Son of David, have pity on us!"
When he entered the house,
the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
"Do you believe that I can do this?"
"Yes, Lord," they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
"Let it be done for you according to your faith."
And their eyes were opened.
Jesus warned them sternly,
"See that no one knows about this."
But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.

We know well the stories.  We know how He healed the blind and the lame.  Sometimes it took a simple word or no words at all, a mere look or touch from Christ.  Sometimes He used mud or water, but oftentimes he used nothing.  Sometimes He touched those whom He healed, while other times He healed from far away.

One thing is clear in these stories: Christ only heals those who want His healing.  We forget that too often.  We forget that Christ only heals those who believe in Him, who trust Him, who want to be healed.  We forget how He reacts to those with great faith, and also how He reacts to those with little faith.  We forget how, in our own lives, we embrace or reject Christ.  God does not make us love Him, since coerced love isn’t love at all.