Monday, January 21, 2019

If there is no priest, then there is no Holy Mass; if there is no Holy Mass, then there is no consecration of the Sacred Host; if there is not consecration of the Sacred Host then there is no Holy Communion; then if there is no Holy Communion there is no Sacramental Presence of Jesus.

Let us pray for all good and faithful priests who dedicate themselves to their people with generosity and unknown sacrifices. - Pope Francis

Scripture Text: (HEB 5:1-10)
Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
You are my Son:
this day I have begotten you;
just as he says in another place,
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.
In the days when he was in the Flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Jesus gives us priests so that we may have the Eucharist. 

Jesus does not want our celebration of the Eucharist to be cut off and separated or divorced from the rest of our lives. Our celebration of the Eucharist is to affect our entire lives. What kind of an effect is it to have on our lives? Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in the context of the Last Supper surely teaches us that the Eucharist is linked with service. Our celebration of the Eucharist should lead us to love all our brothers and sisters in a sacrificial way. Our celebration of the Eucharist sends us out from here to love and serve the Lord in others. Our meeting with the Lord here continues as we love and serve the Lord in others after our celebration here. That is also why it is during the Last Supper that Jesus gave his new love commandment, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) St. Augustine, writing about the Eucharist, said that if we receive Holy Communion worthily we are what we receive (Sermon 227) i.e. Christ was sacrificed that you might receive him in the Eucharist and in like manner, Augustine was saying, when you receive Christ in the Eucharist you too are to sacrifice yourself, and in that sense you become what you eat. Just as Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it, when we receive the Eucharist we are to allow ourselves to be taken by Jesus, blessed, broken and given in love for others. In that sense the words of Paul in our second reading tonight become true, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
― Flannery O'Connor: (1925 –  1964: was an American Catholic novelist, short story writer and essayist)

Scripture Text: (IS 62:1-5)
For Zion's sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.

Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you "Forsaken, "
or your land "Desolate, "
but you shall be called "My Delight, "
and your land "Espoused."
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

How does the Word of God touch my life? How does God’s Word challenge me and call me to conversion? At what point will I become truly convinced that God’s Word is Truth, the kind of truth that will set me free? God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Most of us will agree that being true to our word can come at an awful price. To live a virtuous life will demand integrity, honesty and courage. We need courage to live trustworthy lives, for our yes to be yes and our no to be no. 

When we give our word, we give our very selves!

Friday, January 18, 2019

“I would rather have the approval of God over the accolades of men. For while men might 'lift' me up, God is the only One who can 'take' me up.”

“Do not trust to the cheering, for those very persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.”- Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658: was an English military and political leader)

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 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 popularityand how to put the aim of dying to self before that of earthly life.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Open your heart - open it wide; someone is standing outside.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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.

A hardened heart is a dangerous spiritual predicament because when our hearts are hardened nothing can touch them, nothing can enter into them; hardened hearts are closed to God’s spirit and life, closed to any possibility of healing and hope. Our hearts harden over time—sometimes so gradually that we have no idea what is happening to us—when we shut our lives to others, when we settle into self-serving routines that suck life from us and those around us, or when we become so comfortable with who we are and no longer are willing to grow and to change. With erring hearts we slip slowly away from God by letting other things (other persons, our own pleasures, money and possessions) take the place of God. With erring hearts it is not that we suddenly begin to love the wrong things, but that we love them in the wrong ways, giving lesser goods far more attention than they deserve. And with evil and unfaithful hearts we act as if we ourselves are gods, doing whatever we want and getting whatever we want no matter how much hurt and harm it brings to others.

So maybe it is time for a heart checkup. Like people who are sick long before they receive a proper diagnosis, we need to periodically check the condition of our hearts to be sure we are not denying ourselves the love, healing, mercy, and wholeness that God wants to give us and that we need to truly live.