Monday, January 16, 2017

Many of us believe that wrongs aren't wrong if it's done by nice people like ourselves.

Few love to hear the sins they love to act. ~William Shakespeare: (1564 1616: was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.)

Gospel Text: (MK 2:18-22)
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
"Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them,
"Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins."

The Gospel reading reminds us that to be Christian is not a matter of obeying rules and regulations. Christianity is not just a religion in the traditional sense of the word but a way of life, a way of conversion.

A Christian can never say that he has arrived, that he is already perfect. If we are truthful to ourselves, we will always realize that we are still aiming for what St. Paul says, "I do not believe I have already reached my goal, nor do I consider myself perfect, but I press on till I conquer Christ Jesus, as I have been conquered by him." (Phil 3:12)

All the saints say the same thing that they are far from the holiness of God. This attitude makes us vigilant always and not proud or presumptuous. God loves a humble heart, a heart that continues to love him. We must never tire of doing what is good and bringing others to the knowledge and love of God.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

“The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose.”

“Do you want to know what God’s will is for you? It is for you to become more and more like Christ. This is spiritual maturity, and if you make this your goal, it will change your life.” ― Billy Graham: (born November 7, 1918: is an American evangelical Christian evangelist)

Gospel Text: (JN 1:29-34)
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
'A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.'
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel."
John testified further, saying,
"I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
'On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."

The gospel reading for this Sunday recounts Jesus’ meeting with John the Baptist. It provides us with a lesson in heeding, and acting on, what God has said to us.  John the Baptist was told to look for a sign that the Son of God had come; “on whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will Baptize with the Holy Spirit.”  Jesus is that person. John the Baptist tells us, “I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”  God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit has come to us and will remain forever.  Let us go into the new year singing the new song that God has given us, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”    

Saturday, January 14, 2017

God’s face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy.

“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up. - Pope Francis: (Sept. 19, 2013)

Gospel Text: (MK 2:13-17)
Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
"Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus heard this and said to them,
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

We spend so much time and energy masking our own weaknesses and concealing our sinfulness. We try to appear strong and tough to others. Yet we know that God sees through our masks and façades. Jesus penetrated the rough and tough exteriors of Levi, the tax collectors and other sinners when he dined with them. He did so not to chastise or condemn them, but to bring them to the love and grace of God. Perhaps we can spend less time maintaining our own façades once we realize that Jesus came to call the sinners.

Friday, January 13, 2017

“If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them. - Immanuel Kant: (1724 –1804: was a German philosopher who is considered the central figure of modern philosophy)

Gospel Text: (MK 2:1-12)
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
"Child, your sins are forgiven."
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
"Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?"
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"
–he said to the paralytic,
"I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

Jesus could have spent His earthly life working physical cures and raising people from the dead. Had he stuck to these aims alone, He would have remained popular. There’s no telling how successful He might have become in the eyes of the world! But it was not for this “fifteen minutes of fame” that He came into our world of sin and death. It was to die that He dwelt among us. Give thanks that Jesus shows us how to put our mission above popularity, and how to put the aim of death before that of earthly life.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

“Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always.”

Correction does much, but encouragement does more. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: (1749 -  1832: German poet, playwright, and novelist)

Scripture Text: (HEB 3:7-14)
The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
"Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, 'They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.'
As I swore in my wrath,
'They shall not enter into my rest.'"
Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today,"
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

One of the most important gifts that we've received from the Holy Spirit is the ability to encourage others, because it brings heaven to earth. How? Encouragement helps people avoid sin. That's why today's first reading from Mass instructs us to: Encourage one another every day, so that no one succumbs to the deceit of sin.

We are encouragers whenever we listen attentively to what others share and then affirm their goodness and remind them that God loves them. Our encouragement helps others go back into difficult situations with renewed courage and energy.

An encourager does not try to save others from their problems, because that's the job of THE Savior. We help people get through their problems by pointing them to God's help particularly by the way we live our lives daily. We are the vocal chords and the arms of Christ's body as he reaches out to heal those who are hurting. We are his ears as we listen between the words of what each person is saying. We are his hands as he gives them a gentle touch that says, "I care." We are his feet as he walks alongside them when we join them in their battles.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

“The more you pray, the less you'll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You'll feel more patient and less pressured.”

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” ― Mother Teresa: (1910 – 1997: Founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata)

Gospel Text: (MK 1:29-39)
On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."
He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come."
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

In many instances during his public ministry, the Gospels tell us that Jesus went off to a quiet place to pray, to commune with his heavenly Father. At the night before his arrest, trial, condemnation and death on the cross, "filled with anguish and distress," Jesus prayed to his Father at Gethsemane, "Father, if it is your will, remove this cup from me; still not my will but yours be done."  (Lk 22:42) In prayer he was in complete union with his Father.

The Church offers the Eucharistic sacrifice as our great prayer to the Father; participation at Sunday Mass is very important in the life of all members of the Church. The Church stresses the importance of prayer: ordained ministers and religious are required daily prayer. We are all urged to pray and to pray unceasingly.

Are we too busy to spend time with God in daily prayer?