Monday, May 22, 2017

"The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer: the proclamation of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and change us. And the spirit of the world does not tolerate it, will not tolerate it, and therefore, there is persecution."

God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed….If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world. - Antonin Scalia: (1936 –2016: was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death in 2016)

Gospel Text: (JN 15:26—16:4A)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you."

Pope Francis tells us that, by our baptism, all of us are called to be witnesses of Christ, that we should be ready to go out wherever to preach the Good News of salvation. He tells us that we should proclaim our faith first in our own lives and actions so that when we preach to others they could listen and believe our words.

Today's readings invite us to be witnesses of Christ. In the first reading from Mass God ­ fearing Lydia and her household are baptized after the preaching and witnessing of Paul. In the Gospel reading Jesus tells his disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Helper, to be a witness to Christ and to assist us in our witness to Christ. Jesus warns his disciples to "keep from stumbling and falling away"; he warns them they would meet opposition, even persecution: "they will put you out of Jewish communities. Still more, the hour is coming when anyone who kills you will claim to be serving God."

Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid, especially with the Helper with them. This same Spirit is also with us.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

God knows what each one of us is dealing with. He knows our pressures. He knows our conflicts. And He has made a provision for each and every one of them. That provision is Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, indwelling us and empowering us to respond rightly.

“Without the Spirit we can neither love God nor keep His commandments.” – St Augustine: (354 – 430: was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy)

Gospel Text: (JN 14:15-21)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

The Holy Spirit, like the ligaments that hold parts of our physical bodies together, binds us together, to make us one body in Christ. Even when we are separated from our loved ones by great distances, or even by death itself, the Holy Spirit sustains our relationships.

The Body of Christ cannot be diminished or destroyed by distance or death.

The Holy Spirit helps us love others even when it is difficult to do so. Everyone around us is an important part of our spiritual life, whether we want them to be or not. Everyone plays a part in our journey on the Way of Christ Jesus. Sometimes that Way is narrow. Sometimes it demands reconciliation. The Holy Spirit is not interested in “cheap love”. The Holy Spirit leads us into the sort of love that led Jesus to Calvary: the sort of love which allowed Christ to embrace the Cross as His Father’s gift.

Friday, May 19, 2017

“Something happens whenever you sacrifice.”

“Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.” – Pope Saint John Paul II: (1920 –2005: was Pope from 1978 to 2005. He is called by some Catholics Saint John Paul the Great)

Gospel Text: (JN 15:12-17)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."

Jesus had a profound understanding of human nature and had to settle many a conflict among his disciples. His solution was sacrificing self by means of Love. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus never lost confidence in loving us! May we continue to believe that Love Overcomes All!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

“God gave us free agency, and then gave us the commandments to keep us free.”

Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom.” - St. Toribio: (1900 – 1928: was a Roman Catholic priest and Mexican martyr who died in the Cristero War.)

Gospel Text: (JN 15:9-11)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.

"I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete."

Jesus’ words—“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love”—focus our attention on two of these themes: “my commandments” and “my love”. Sometimes in a culture that encourages us to base our actions on our feelings, and which defines love as nothing more than a feeling, “commandments” and “love” seem directly opposed. Some say, in fact, that the person who truly loves does not need commandments: in this case, we could understand Jesus saying, “If you remain in my love, you will keep my commandments.” But Jesus here says the opposite.

Jesus claims in this verse that if you keep His commandments, you will remain in His love. His commandments are a means to the end of His love. This is not to say that the opposite is not also true. But Jesus’ words today remind us of the importance of His commandments, and that all of His commandments are in fact nothing more than commands to love God fully, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dare to Live Fully

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. - Nelson Mandela: (1918 – 2013: was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.)

Gospel Text: (JN 15:1-8)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

We often wonder if our lives will make a difference or if our attempts to do good really matter. And yet, Jesus assures us: “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit…” So what are we waiting for? If Christ lives in us and acts through us, then whether we see it or not, we are bringing the love, mercy, justice, and compassion of God to others. We are changing people’s lives and transforming the world. We are helping build the kingdom of God. And, as today’s gospel reminds us, we are glorifying God.