Providing the Word of God.

April 30, 2017


My Eyes Were Opened!

Reading 1 – ACTS 2:14, 22-33

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
You who are Israelites, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:
I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

“My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father
and poured him forth, as you see and hear.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (11a) Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You will show me the path to life,
abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 – 1 PT 1:17-21

Beloved:
If you invoke as Father him who judges impartially
according to each one’s works,
conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,
realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished lamb.

He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

Alleluia – CF. LK 24:32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us;
make our hearts burn while you speak to us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Reflection

“God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.” (First Reading)

No matter what kind of Easter we had this year, and no matter how we felt before, during or after, one thing is very clear: you and I as Christian have no other meaning and goal but to live and witness to Jesus Christ who has risen, not only from the tomb nearly 2000 years ago, but also every day in the hearts of billions of believers. Giving witness is the way we approach this holy mystery with great excitement and zeal.

“I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” (Responsorial Psalm)

This kind of attitude makes our hearts sing with joy and that joy spreads to all those around us, even those who may not like us, understand us or want us near them. It is the same beautiful God who loves each and every one of us!

“He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you.” (Second Reading)

Even in suffering, disappointments and sadness that life no doubt must bring to our awareness, there is the call to appreciate and encompass the silence. This is because from the very beginning of time, God has been right there watching each of grow in the image and likeness of His created will. We may not always understand this if we don’t have some time in silence.

“And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.” (Gospel)

Each and every time we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we enter that timeless moment of the Resurrection and find Jesus as real and as present as He was when He first walked the earth. There He is the Eucharist! Our food for all time and for the ages in Heaven. This must we must see and to do that adequately, we must open our eyes to the beauty of life and love.

“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart…don’t listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love… “Receive Communion often, very often…there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing…” “The guest of our soul knows our misery; He comes to find an empty tent within us – that is all He asks.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

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April 29, 2017


The Paralyzing Effect of Fear

Reading 1 – ACTS 6:1-7

As the number of disciples continued to grow,
the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews
because their widows
were being neglected in the daily distribution.
So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said,
“It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.
Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men,
filled with the Spirit and wisdom,
whom we shall appoint to this task,
whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer
and to the ministry of the word.”
The proposal was acceptable to the whole community,
so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit,
also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas,
and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
They presented these men to the Apostles
who prayed and laid hands on them.
The word of God continued to spread,
and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly;
even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19

R. (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
or:
R. Alleluia.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ is risen, who made all things;
he has shown mercy on all people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 6:16-21

When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea,
embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum.
It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.
When they had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat,
and they began to be afraid.
But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
They wanted to take him into the boat,
but the boat immediately arrived at the shore
to which they were heading.

Reflection

“The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly.” (First Reading)

“Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.” (Responsorial Psalm)

“It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Gospel)

If we are afraid of things we over which we have no control, then we are in a mess! Why? Because there’s really not a whole of elements of this life that we truly have control, except ourselves and the way we respond to things that life does in fact present to us on a daily basis. And to the extent we allow fear to paralyze from action, the faster and more powerful it grows taking over seemingly every aspect of our lives.

Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes keenly what can and does happen when we are not afraid and when we allow Jesus to walk toward us with a deep and lasting faith and the hope that, just as in His great life, we too might experience ‘resurrections’ practically every day. Great things in fact do happen like the Word of God spreading to those who are hungering for It and those who are fed and following Jesus begin to increase in miraculous numbers. The Gospel follows suit by showing us that even the Disciples experienced fear but knew in the end what the divine remedy would be for the rest of humanity for all the years to come.

What can we learn today from all this when we encounter fear welling up inside of us like a raging storm threatening to paralyze us? Consider this as we ask Jesus to draw near to us right here, right now:

Step 1: Breathe in the present moment. Trust that The Lord is walking toward you longing to hold you.
Step 2: Count your blessings and appreciate what you have. Thank Him for each individual one that you imagine.
Step 3: Concentrate on what can be done right now. Fear usually tries to convince that all our problems have to be solved right now. That’s impossible.

What is possible is that I want to trust Him with everything. I know He will help me. There He comes now…

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April 28, 2017


Perspective, Dear, Perspective!

Reading 1 – ACTS 5:34-42

A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel,
a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,
stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time,
and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel,
be careful what you are about to do to these men.
Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important,
and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed,
and all those who were loyal to him
were disbanded and came to nothing.
After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census.
He also drew people after him,
but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered.
So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him.
After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged,
ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus,
and dismissed them.
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy
to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. (see 4abc) One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
One thing I ask of the LORD
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – MT 4:4B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Reflection

Let’s take a perspective on the word “perspective” and how many ways it is defined by a number of dictionary resources:

1. a technique of depicting volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface.
2. a visible scene, especially one extending to a distance; vista:
3. the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having meaningful interrelationship
4. the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship:

Now, let us introduce two pivotal statements that we have just encountered in the Scriptures of today:

“For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them.” (First Reading) and,

“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” (Gospel)

Our first quote is what is referred by some as “The Gamaliel Principle.” While there are literally volumes written and discussed (and argued) about this one statement, it will suffice for our purposes here to glean at least one perspective from it: If something is just human, it will pass away; if it is Divine, nothing will destroy it. It is forever.

The second reference is perfectly in an ordered, reasonable and Theological sequence. Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Prophet which all the Prophets have foretold. From this perspective, and using at least on face value, the Gamaliel Principle, we can happily and with great spiritual comfort rest assured that Jesus is ours today, yesterday and forever. You and I can call out to Him with every breath we have and with each second we exist. It is this perspective that allows us to shout out with the Psalm of today:

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?

That put all of the universe in perspective, don’t you agree?

 

 

 
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April 27, 2017


The Right Question to Ask

Reading 1 – ACTS 5:27-33

When the court officers had brought the Apostles in
and made them stand before the Sanhedrin,
the high priest questioned them,
“We gave you strict orders did we not,
to stop teaching in that name.
Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the Apostles said in reply,
“We must obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:2 AND 9, 17-18, 19-20

R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – JN 20:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe?
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 3:31-36

The one who comes from above is above all.
The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life,
but the wrath of God remains upon him.

Reflection 

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right” —Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)

The powerful and universe-changing event of all time, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, must continue to have a likewise powerful and life-altering impact on each one of our lives if we are to truly understand what we are doing, or rather, called to be for the rest of our lives. While Doctor King provided a reliable way to evaluate and judge the most important and most frivolousness of issues that we confront seemingly every day, still we must all have yet another question to ask and patiently await the answer no matter how difficult it would be to hear.

“Is it loving?”

Imagine if this were the pertinent and critical question that would determine what we would say and do today, and for the rest of our days? What kind of life would we have? What profound impact could that make on those around me? On the world?

It is certainly worth thinking and praying about today. Easter, remember, is not just a day, but a way of life.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” —Edith Wharton, 1862-1937

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April 26, 2017


Easter Freedom

Reading 1 – ACTS 5:17-26

The high priest rose up and all his companions,
that is, the party of the Sadducees,
and, filled with jealousy,
laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail.
But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison,
led them out, and said,
“Go and take your place in the temple area,
and tell the people everything about this life.”
When they heard this,
they went to the temple early in the morning and taught.
When the high priest and his companions arrived,
they convened the Sanhedrin,
the full senate of the children of Israel,
and sent to the jail to have them brought in.
But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison,
so they came back and reported,
“We found the jail securely locked
and the guards stationed outside the doors,
but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”
When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report,
they were at a loss about them,
as to what this would come to.
Then someone came in and reported to them,
“The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area
and are teaching the people.”
Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them,
but without force,
because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – JN 3:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 3:16-21

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Reflection

I just watched a five-minute video chronicling the rescue of a dog that had been chained to a fence for about 10 years. The owner just had the poor creature to bark at strangers and fed it every other day just to keep it alive.  The narrator of this story was a young woman who passed the dog twice a day as she walked to and from work for about 18 months and mentioned that although it barked at everyone, she felt that all that meant was that it needed attention. Day by day, she neared the fence, gradually gained the dog’s trust and finally took the steps to rescue the animal. It was hard to fight back the tears watching the dog take its first bath, having grease and grime removed lovingly from its coat then released into a large backyard of a new home with a family and two other dogs. The reaction to a new life of freedom was, as they say these days, priceless.

Because of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, all Christians  have been liberated from the terrible forces of sin and death. A life of authentic freedom and holiness cannot breathe while the flesh (our “old self”), that is, self-interested hostility toward God, continues to block what God has always wanted for us, a life in the Spirit.

This remains a constant challenge to put to death the evil deeds of the body through life of the Spirit especially as we must confront and experience evil and darkness at times all around us: “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.” In St. John’s Gospel today, we are given the certain hope of a real authentic freedom because of the choice we daily make to walk with Jesus: “But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

Perhaps we could summarize it all like this:
If we long for true Freedom with every fiber of our being,
if we taste, if only for a moment, the experience of having
those obsessive and selfish chains removed from our hearts
and daily re-commit to live in the Spirit of Jesus who died
to accomplish this for us, then we are truly alive because
of righteousness and radiant with a joy that no one can
take from us, unless we give it away. 

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April 25, 2017


person helping another person on top of hill

Serve and Be Happy

Reading 1 – 1 PT 5:5B-14

Beloved:
Clothe yourselves with humility
in your dealings with one another, for:

God opposes the proud
but bestows favor on the humble.

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time.
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Be sober and vigilant.
Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in faith,
knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world
undergo the same sufferings.
The God of all grace
who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you
after you have suffered a little.
To him be dominion forever. Amen.

I write you this briefly through Silvanus,
whom I consider a faithful brother,
exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.
Remain firm in it.
The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son.
Greet one another with a loving kiss.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17

R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The heavens proclaim your wonders, O LORD,
and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies can rank with the LORD?
Who is like the LORD among the sons of God?
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – 1 COR 1:23A-24B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We proclaim Christ crucified:
he is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 16:15-20

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Reflection

“So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (First Reading)

We begin yet another day with the Lord Jesus close at our side. We ask Him never to leave us but also to show us how to stay focused and humbled as we move forward. A possible answer comes to us from the first reading from the First Letter of St. Peter. In this particular offering of our first Pope, Christians were encouraged to remain faithful to their standards of belief and conduct in spite of threats of persecution. Even in the face of horrible ruin and disaster, he never lost faith.

“For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” (Responsorial Psalm)

This quote from the Responsorial Psalm today also reinforces this heart-felt and rock-solid attachment to the Lord Jesus who clearly has been know to try and test our faith. The goal is sure and simple. Do not give up and do not despair. The best is yet to come.

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (Gospel)

And while we wait in hope, Jesus give us the most awesome example of peace and strength: a true disciple. This is true greatness. A disciple trusts and loves with completeness and wholeness. The one who follows the Lord and gives witness to him in every situation has a deep joy that no one can take from him or her. The one who prays is never alone and with that daily practice and communication, they know that they are loved and hang on to that for dear life. A disciple also knows exactly what it means to serve. Consider what William Barclay has to say about the virtue and motivation for serving and proclaiming the Word of God in all instances:

There are so many wrong motives for service.

(i) There is the desire for prestige. A. J. Cronin tells of a district nurse he knew when he was in practice as a doctor. For twenty years, single-handed, she had served a ten-mile district. “I marveled,” he says, “at her patience, her fortitude and her cheerfulness. She was never too tired at night to rise for an urgent call. Her salary was most inadequate, and late one night, after a particularly strenuous day, I ventured to protest to her, ‘Nurse, why don’t you make them pay you more? God knows you are worth it.’ ‘If God knows I’m worth it,’ she answered, ‘that’s all that matters to me.’” She was working, not for men, but for God. And when we work for God, prestige will be the last thing that enters into our mind, for we will know that even our best is not good enough for him.

(ii) There is the desire for place. If a man is given a task or a position or an office in the church, he should regard it not as an honor but as a responsibility. There are those who serve within the church, not thinking really of those they serve, but thinking of themselves. A certain English Prime Minister was offered congratulations on attaining to that office. “I do not want your congratulations,” he said, “but I do want your prayers.” To be chosen for office is to be set apart for service, not elevated to honor.

(iii) There is the desire for prominence. Many a person will serve or give so long as his service and his generosity are known and he is thanked and praised. It is Jesus’ own instruction that we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. If we give only to gain something out of the giving for ourselves, we have undone much of its good.

 

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April 24, 2017


The Contempt of Familiarity

Reading 1 – ACTS 4:23-31

After their release Peter and John went back to their own people
and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.
And when they heard it,
they raised their voices to God with one accord
and said, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth
and the sea and all that is in them,
you said by the Holy Spirit
through the mouth of our father David, your servant:

Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples entertain folly?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the princes gathered together
against the Lord and against his anointed.

Indeed they gathered in this city
against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed,
Herod and Pontius Pilate,
together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
to do what your hand and your will
had long ago planned to take place.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats,
and enable your servants to speak your word
with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders are done
through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 2:1-3, 4-7A, 7B-9

R. (see 11d) Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples utter folly?
The kings of the earth rise up,
and the princes conspire together
against the LORD and against his anointed:
“Let us break their fetters
and cast their bonds from us!”
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He who is throned in heaven laughs;
the LORD derides them.
Then in anger he speaks to them;
he terrifies them in his wrath:
“I myself have set up my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD.
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
You shall rule them with an iron rod;
you shall shatter them like an earthen dish.”
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – COL 3:1

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 3:1-8

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him,
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,
for no one can do these signs that you are doing
unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him,
“How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”
Jesus answered,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you,
‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills,
and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Reflection

More than a handful of years ago, I heard an amazing lecture at University attempting to address the time-honored saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.” She said that basically it meant that the better we know people, the more likely we are to find fault with them. But her lecture did not stop there: she challenged the saying itself by asserting that it is not familiarity that makes distance and distrust but something much deeper.

Today, the Readings also address a type of contempt for the familiar. In both the Old and New Testament, people who should have known better, somehow rejected the offer of grace and salvation that was placed right in front of them and then offered to someone else, someone other than the Chosen.

That still happens today.

The poor and lost among us are often more receptive to the invitation to follow Jesus than those who have “been doing it all their lives.” During this great and powerful Season of Easter, it is up to all of us to find the humility and the courage to face our most haughty and prideful selves so that we won’t miss the opportunities to follow Jesus much more closely as people “who are born of the Spirit.”

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April 23, 2017


Am I a Slave?

Reading 1 – ACTS 2:42-47

They devoted themselves
to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life,
to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone,
and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
All who believed were together and had all things in common;
they would sell their property and possessions
and divide them among all according to each one’s need.
Every day they devoted themselves
to meeting together in the temple area
and to breaking bread in their homes.
They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,
praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.
And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R. (1) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 – 1 PT 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Alleluia – JN 20:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are they who have not seen me, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Reflection

In our remarkable Native American Culture, there comes a story about the slavery of evil and addiction. Often times, young boys were sent from the village in search of a vision. This was the case of one particular young native boy. He started to go up to the top of a mountain in search of his vision. And he climbed up the mountain, the air became cooler and cooler. He then came upon a snake laying on the path. The snake was shivering and said to the boy, “Please help me. I can;’t move, I am so cold that i can no longer make it any further down the mountain.”

The boy carefully said to the snake, “No way! You are a snake; if I pick you up you’ll bite me!”

The snake replied, “No, no I won’t; I promise I won’t bite you if you will only pick me up and help me get down the mountain.”

So the young boy picked up the snake, put him in his shirt, and continued climbing to the top of the mountain in search of his vision. When he finally returned from his incredible climb, he reached in, took out the snake and attempted to lay it on the ground. At that point, the snake lunged forward and bit the young man close to his heart.

Immediately, he lost strength in his legs and fell helpless to the ground. As his vision became more and more blurred, he helplessly called out to the snake, “But you promised….”

The snake replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

These were the last words he heard before he closed his eyes and died.

CityofAgape Jesus“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;…

‘No slave is greater than his master.’” (Gospel)

I am a slave for Jesus Christ. Who slave are you?

 

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April 22, 2017


The Danger of Unbelief

Reading –  ACTS 4:13-21

Observing the boldness of Peter and John
and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men,
the leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed,
and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus.
Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them,
they could say nothing in reply.
So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin,
and conferred with one another, saying,
“What are we to do with these men?
Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign
was done through them, and we cannot deny it.
But so that it may not be spread any further among the people,
let us give them a stern warning
never again to speak to anyone in this name.”

So they called them back
and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John, however, said to them in reply,
“Whether it is right in the sight of God
for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
After threatening them further,
they released them,
finding no way to punish them,
on account of the people who were all praising God
for what had happened.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 118:1 AND 14-15AB, 16-18, 19-21

R. (21a) I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just.
R. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
“The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD has struck with power.”
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
Though the LORD has indeed chastised me,
yet he has not delivered me to death.
R. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
R. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – PS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 16:9-15

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week,
he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,
out of whom he had driven seven demons.
She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping.
When they heard that he was alive
and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

After this he appeared in another form
to two of them walking along on their way to the country.
They returned and told the others;
but they did not believe them either.

But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them
and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart
because they had not believed those
who saw him after he had been raised.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Reflection

People sometimes outright refuse to believe that which they don’t want to believe, in spite of overwhelming evidence. In the 18th century, when explorers firstwent to Australia they found a mammal which laid eggs; spent some time in water, some on land; had a broad, flat tail, webbed feet, and a bill similar to a duck. Upon their return to England, they told the populace of this, and all felt it was a hoax. They returned to Australia and found a pelt from this animal and took it back to England, but the people still felt it was a hoax. In spite of the evidence, they disbelieved because they didn’t want to believe.

Twice in our Gospel passage today, people simply would not believe that Jesus rose from the dead and was alive.

Today, people still don’t believe. Many times, we get things out of order – seeking proof so that we can be more comfortable to believe.

woman prayer forgivenessToday and every day, pray for the gift of faith. Without a deep and assured confidence in the Risen Lord, we will still approach life with a sense of despair and a lost spirit. The tomb was empty. Our faith must be full.

“Understanding is the reward of faith.
Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”
– St. Augustine

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April 21, 2017


We Know Who He Is

ACTS 4:1-12

After the crippled man had been cured,
while Peter and John were still speaking to the people,
the priests, the captain of the temple guard,
and the Sadducees confronted them,
disturbed that they were teaching the people
and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
They laid hands on Peter and John
and put them in custody until the next day,
since it was already evening.
But many of those who heard the word came to believe
and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes
were assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest,
Caiaphas, John, Alexander,
and all who were of the high-priestly class.
They brought them into their presence and questioned them,
“By what power or by what name have you done this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them,
“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know
that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead;
in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
which has become the cornerstone.

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 118:1-2 AND 4, 22-24, 25-27A

R. (22) The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
O LORD, grant salvation!
O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – PS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 21:1-14

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

Reflection

During the years of 1942 and 1944, the great C. S. Lewis gave a series of talks which became his book, Mere Christianity.  In that famous published work, we find this quote:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as agreat moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

All throughout this first week after Easter Sunday, our Scriptures have been confirming this message. It may be seen by some to be in the form of a mild ultimatum. We either take Jesus at His word, accept that He is who He says He is and act accordingly, or we simply do not. In other words, either Jesus is God with power of life and death or we have to place Him in some other category which C. S. Lewis explored in the quote above. To hold that Jesus was just a very nice man with some very positive teachings which had a positive impact on society and leave it there is simply not going to work. Jesus Himself did not leave those options open.

real manThis fundamental choice to make about who Jesus Christ is for all eternity is critical for every human being as we live this life. And if we know who He is, then we know why He had to come. For you and me. Forever. Period.

“There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

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