Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there's something wrong!"


“A church that doesn't provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn't unsettle, a word of God that doesn't get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn't touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed what gospel is that?” – Archbishop Oscar Romero: (1917 –1980: was the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. In 1980, Romero was assassinated while offering Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence.)

Gospel Text: (JN 5:1-16)
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
"Do you want to be well?"
The sick man answered him,
"Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me."
Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk."
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
"It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat."
He answered them, "The man who made me well told me,
'Take up your mat and walk.'"
They asked him,
"Who is the man who told you, 'Take it up and walk'?"
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
"Look, you are well; do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you."
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.

Why did Jesus focus on this man amidst a crowd of many who were ill, blind, lame, and crippled? Maybe he'd been sick the longest. Maybe he had more love for God than the others did. Maybe the Father had a special plan for his life. We don't know, but whatever the reason, Jesus recognized his need and readiness to be healed, and so he decided to take the initiative and reach out to the man.

Here is the catch - Jesus knew the ramifications of inviting the lame man to receive his healing gift: Both he and the man would be condemned as sinners. Have you ever been in that kind of a situation?


Dare to follow your heart to where others need the caring touch of Christ. Look for opportunities to be Jesus for others in ways that you've avoided before. Stretch your ability to face the cross, because you love others that much.

Monday, March 27, 2017

“I will go peaceably and firmly to the Catholic Church: for if Faith is so important to our salvation, I will seek it where true Faith first began, seek it among those who received it from God Himself.”


My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings. ~St. Isaac Jogues: (1607 – 1646) was a Jesuit priest, missionary and martyr who traveled and worked among the Iroquois, Huron, and other Native populations in North America.

Gospel Text: (JN 4:43-54)
At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee.
For Jesus himself testified
that a prophet has no honor in his native place.
When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him,
since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast;
for they themselves had gone to the feast.

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee,
where he had made the water wine.
Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea,
he went to him and asked him to come down
and heal his son, who was near death.
Jesus said to him,
"Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe."
The royal official said to him,
"Sir, come down before my child dies."
Jesus said to him, "You may go; your son will live."
The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
While the man was on his way back,
his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.
He asked them when he began to recover.
They told him,
"The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon."
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,
"Your son will live,"
and he and his whole household came to believe.
Now this was the second sign Jesus did
when he came to Galilee from Judea.


St John’s in today’s gospel from Mass highlights the healing power of Jesus but, more importantly, addresses the value of faith. As seen in the John’s reading, the royal official wanted Jesus to visit his ill son who was near death in order to save him. Although Jesus healed his son, he chastised the man and others for seeking “signs and wonders” in order to believe. As we progress through Lent, St. John reminds us of the importance of having faith in the word of God. And rather than coming to God only when we need him, to open up a daily conversation with God and to trust that He will answer our prayers in His way and not necessarily according to our wishes or expectations for He knows us best. The key is to be open to God’s words, to seek good in all we do, and to have faith as we progress through the Lenten season on a journey that will lead to a long, beautiful, and joyous life with God!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

“God's plan for your life is happening right now. It doesn't begin when you get married or when you get your dream job or when everything feels perfect. You are IN the plan.”


God wills only our good; God loves us more than anybody else can or does love us. His will is that no one should lose his soul, that everyone should save and sanctify his soul: “Not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance[49].” “This is the will of God, your sanctification[50].” God has made the attainment of our happiness, his glory. Even chastisements come to us, not to crush us, but to make us mend our ways and save our souls. -- St. Alphonsus de Ligouri: (1696 –1787: was an Italian Catholic bishop, scholastic philosopher, and theologian)

Gospel Text: (LK 1:26-38)
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is easily captured in one word, "Yes." We are all familiar with the story of the incarnation of the Son of God through the generous availability of the maiden Mary. After some questioning and calming of her fears, Mary readily yields in faith and trust to the invitation through the angel Gabriel to be the Mother of the Son of God.

To what do we believe God is inviting us now? What are our fears and reservations in responding to various urgings of God? Do we worry about fears and raise questions when we perceive God calling and inviting us to do and offer something? Such would be perfectly normal and understandable when asked for something we are not familiar with which brings about apprehensions, reservations and even fears. What we have to watch out for is that such fears and apprehensions do not paralyze us. For we know that there is always something beautiful and fulfilling for us if God asks and invites us.

Is Jesus challenging us to a deeper faith in him? Are we being called to reconcile and make up with those who may have hurt us? Are we asked to do charity work or to be more involved in the life of the Church through our parish? Are we able to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and weaknesses, realizing the great understanding and mercy of God? Are we being led to truly unexpected challenges or undertakings?

It is important to see that such invitations are always in the context of our participation in the mission of salvation initiated by the Lord Jesus. It is only in this wider context that we may be able to appreciate that our positive response, our "Yes," enhances the reign of God and is thus a fulfillment of Jesus' promise that he will always be with us.
   

God wants only one answer, our generous "Yes." Are we willing to take this risk with God as Mary did with the announcement by the angel Gabriel? It may not be easy (Mary's heart was pierced by many swords) but we could rest assured God will always be with us in any undertaking. God was always with Mary in support of her generosity and fidelity. God will be the same with us.

Friday, March 24, 2017

“Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God, your functional savior. ”


“When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshipping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains. Therefore if you find that, despite all the efforts to forgive, your anger and bitterness cannot subside, you may need to look deeper and ask, ‘What am I defending? What is so important that I cannot live without?’ It may be that, until some inordinate desire is identified and confronted, you will not be able to master your anger.”― Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters

Scripture Text: (MK 12:28-34)
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
"Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus replied, "The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
"You are not far from the Kingdom of God."
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


The reference of the first two commandments in the gospel above together are “worth more than any burnt offering or sacrifice”. Every member of the human race—except Jesus and Mary—is radically estranged from God not only by our sharing in the sin of Adam, but by our personal sins as well. In the person of Jesus these two commandments become one, and in the Cross of Jesus Christ, we see the perfect Sacrifice.