Thursday, August 31, 2017

“Jesus said the weeds would grow with the wheat until the Judgment," - I have come to believe that there is more grace in becoming wheat than there is in pulling weeds.”

"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." – St Mark: (Author of the Gospel of Mark. Mark is said to have founded the Church of Alexandria, one of the most important episcopal sees of Early Christianity. His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the winged lion.)

Gospel Text: (MT 24:42-51)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

"Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant,
whom the master has put in charge of his household
to distribute to them their food at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is long delayed,'
and begins to beat his fellow servants,
and eat and drink with drunkards,
the servant's master will come on an unexpected day
and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely
and assign him a place with the hypocrites,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

"Stay awake, then, for you do not know on what day the Lord will come." "Be alert." We hear these admonitions in the Gospel reading. What does it mean to be spiritually awake and alert? How are we to prepare for the Lord's coming?

In the first example of how to be awake and alert, we are told about the house owner ready to prevent his house being broken into, if he knew when the thief would come. How do we keep our spiritual house and life safe from harm? By arming ourselves with God's grace and protection, through prayer, the sacraments and a life of faithfulness to God's commands.

In the second example, we are told about the servant who is tasked to prepare food and whatever for the house owner when he comes. Will he be like the one who is always well prepared for the master's return or like the one who parties and "enjoys life", thinking and presuming the master is not yet to come? To be ready for the coming of the Lord, we should be ready with our good works, our prayers and participation in the life of the Church.

Let us strive to be spiritually awake and alert all the time, taking advantage of God's help and guidance in his Church.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The world is governed more by appearance than realities

For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearance, as though they were realities and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are. - Niccolo Machiavelli: (1469 – 1527: was an Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher and writer of the Renaissance period.)

Gospel Text: (MT 23:27-32)
Jesus said,
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You build the tombs of the prophets
and adorn the memorials of the righteous,
and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets' blood.'
Thus you bear witness against yourselves
that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;
now fill up what your ancestors measured out!"

How much hypocrisy do we have in our own lives? Do we live what we say and preach? Do we walk our talk? Do we honestly see and know our inner selves, what we really and truly are before ourselves and before the God who sees and knows all things? Do any of Jess' woes against the Pharisees and the leaders of the Law strike what we are and have been? 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

You commit a sin of omission if you do not utilize all the power that is within you.

“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.” ― Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

Gospel Text: (MK 6:17-29)
Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
"It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias' own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
"Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you."
He even swore many things to her,
"I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom."
She went out and said to her mother,
"What shall I ask for?"
She replied, "The head of John the Baptist."
The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request,
"I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist."
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

With the reemergence of comic superheroes, a new phrase or question has developed, “What is your super power?” A question that helps us to think about the special gift or talent we possess that might assist others. The Church calls these charisms. They are the graces/gifts and talents given to us by God, intended to build up the Body of Christ.

Saint John the Baptist knew that his charism was to preach and proclaim the coming of the messiah. He held fast to his gift of preaching and teaching and put his life on the line to speak the truth when it came to confronting Herod Antipas about his marriage to his brother’s wife when his brother was still living. While Herod Antipas, a “king” with “power” could not stand up to the truth when his wife asked for the “head of John the Baptist”. He could not humble himself and say no to the request. It would have been “humbling” for him to do so. He might have seemed weak. What would people think of a king not keeping a promise?

When given power we need to know what to do with it!

We can use it for a greater good and it may cost us friends, job or opportunities. Or we may use it to make us “king of the hill”. Walking over others and ignoring the truth as we climb up to what we think is our goal. Not an easy choice when “human wisdom”/society tells us that it is okay to climb our way up and if someone next to me is falling down well, too bad for them. On the other hand, our faith says that we can all climb together helping each other to achieve our goals. In doing so we build up the “Body of Christ”

What are your gifts and talents? How are you using these to build up the “Body of Christ”?

Monday, August 28, 2017

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

"It is not the being seen of men that is wrong, but doing these things for the purpose of being seen of men. The problem with the hypocrite is his motivation. He does not want to be holy; he only wants to seem to be holy. He is more concerned with his reputation for righteousness than about actually becoming righteous. The approbation of men matters more to him than the approval of God."- St. Augustine: (354 – 430: was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy)

Gospel text: (MT 23:13-22)
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.'
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.'
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it."

It is so easy to get caught up in rituals and religious practices, as the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were: we should not forget that it is God who is the center and meaning of rituals and religious practices. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law paraded their practice of religion and rituals: Jesus condemned them and reminded them that it was love of God and concern for his honor and glory which were of utmost importance.

Jesus reminded them that their duty was to lighten and not to make life more difficult for their followers.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Why are those who are notoriously undisciplined and unmoral also most contemptuous of religion and morality?...........

“How many times do we hear: 'Come on, you Christians, be a little bit more normal, like other people, be reasonable!' This is real snake charmer's talk: 'Come on, just be like this, okay? A little bit more normal, don't be so rigid ...' But behind it is this: 'Don't come here with your stories, that God became man!' The Incarnation of the Word, that is the scandal behind all of this! We can do all the social work we want, and they will say: 'How great the Church is, it does such good social work." But if we say that we are doing it because those people are the flesh of Christ, then comes the scandal. And that is the truth, that is the revelation of Jesus: that presence of Jesus incarnate.” ― Pope Francis, Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Everyday

Gospel Text: (MT 16:13-20)
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

The occupant of Peter’s chair is the Vicar of Christ not in bearing Christ’s omnipotence, but in teaching in the current day what Christ has already gifted to His Church. Far from an exciting office of innovation, Peter holds down the Church against the currents of faddish ideologies and fashionable trends. Jesus didn’t ask Peter to be a star, but a rock; not brilliant, but solid; not popular, but the unwavering voice of Christ to His People.