Sunday, February 22, 2015

First Sunday of Lent

Reading 1 Gn 9:8-15

God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
God added:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again become a flood
to destroy all mortal beings.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Good and upright is the LORD,
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and he teaches the humble his way.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Reading 2 1 Pt 3:18-22

Beloved:
Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Verse Before the Gospel Mt 4:4b

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

Gospel Mk 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homily for Sunday

Welcome faithful children of the Lord Jesus to the House of God where by the grace of the Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, one finds the strength to dwell in the Presence of the Lord Jesus in the fullness of righteousness.

Today's readings from the Holy Scriptures echoed the progressive history of what was required in the days of Moses in the Presence of the Heavenly Father versus what is required today to live in the Presence of the Lord Jesus. As you will hear during my homily, while some things have dramatically changed, our loving God making it easier for us to approach Him and to dwell in His Divine Presence, not all things have changed.

During today's First Reading from the Book of Leviticus, [Lev. 13:1-2, 45-46] we heard of society's treatment towards those who suffered temporary skin disorders. Being called unclean because of their afflictions, they were isolated from the community. And also, they were expected to behave in a certain way.

It is important to point out that in this particular reading and throughout Chapter 13:1-44 of the Book of Leviticus, reference is not made to leprosy but to temporary disorders that are curable. This is based on the fact that the Hebrew word "sara'at" is used versus the Latin Vulgate Bible word that states "lepra" which means "leprosy." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Page 75, #28C)

Although primitive hygiene considered such diseases as highly contagious, therefore requiring isolation from the community, it was the religious and social ostracism that dictated that those who were stricken by these skin disorders lacked the necessary bodily integrity to worship Yahweh.

To ensure that those who worshipped Yahweh were clean, when someone was suspected of having a skin disorder, he was sent before the priest who would examine the person to determine the status of his condition. The priest did not do this as a physician but as a judge who interprets the Law of Moses.

The signs to be observed were the spreading of the disease, [Lev. 13:7, 22, 27, 35] sores that penetrated the skin and discoloured the surrounding hair [Lev. 13:3, 20, 25, 30] and open sores [Lev. 13:10, 15, 42] If the priest was unsure of the condition of the person, the individual was quarantine, sometimes for a week. [Lev. 13:21, 26]

Once it was determined that a person was unclean, that person was expected to move outside the community, wear torn clothes, leave their hair disarranged, cover their lip and cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" This would last as long as the person was inflicted with the skin disease.

Spiritually speaking, this reading is symbolic of how the Holy Sacraments are administered by the Church. Things have not changed! If one is not in a state of grace, not having repented of his sins, nor received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he is not permitted to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. For one to enjoy communion with the Presence of the Lord today, he is expected to be clean, in a state of grace.

Today, the Holy Catholic Church does not mistreat those who choose to live in sin by isolating them from the Body of Christ. While the Church condemns their actions, it loves and prays for the sinners as Jesus loved them and died for their salvation. This is in the hope that the sinners will be healed by the grace of God as those of the days of Moses were healed from their temporary skin disorders.
br> Today's Second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 10:23-11:1] is summarized by saying that charity is the first spiritual Law by which Christians must live. Charity must govern the behaviours of each and every Christian.

While all things are lawful, not all things are beneficial. It may be lawful to indulge in alcohol in one's home, but such behaviour surely does not lead to spiritual growth. It may be lawful to get married before a Justice of the Peace versus receiving the Sacrament of Marriage within the Holy Catholic Church, but such action does not have the blessing of God or the Church. It may be lawful to have a divorce or an abortion, but such actions oppose the holiness of God and His intended Divine Plan for His children.

The Christian behaviour ordains that those who shine in the light of Christ be servants of others, not offending anyone by their actions. They must not seek their own advantage, but that of the others. For example, one may be comfortable going to Church while being improperly dressed in the Presence of the Lord. But, because such a behaviour may disturb the conscience of others, Christian behaviour ordains that it not be done. The Christian behaviour ordains that because the conscience of the person who is acting this way may not be disturbed, it is no reason for saying, "It is nobody's business how I dress!" One must love and respect his neighbours in who resides the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian who embraces a spirit mind, he is always concerned with the well-being of his brothers and sisters in Christ and the building up of the Holy Catholic Church. The Christian who has a spiritual heart, he is always ready to sacrifice himself in the interest of the others and the Church.

Why does the true Christian act this way? It is because he does everything for the glory of God so that he may dwell in the Divine Presence of the Lord Jesus. The true Christian is ready to sacrifice his ways in service to the others so that they may be saved.

Contrary to this, one can decide to have his own way and behave in an unacceptable way that scandalizes others. Resulting from such behaviours, those who are scandalized may leave the Body of Christ because their consciences are bothered. In such cases, the persons who have committed the scandalous acts will be made accountable to God for their behaviours that have led to the lost of souls.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Mark [Mk. 1:40-45] echoed three messages related to dwelling in the Presence of the Lord.

First of all, the miraculous healing of the leper echoes the Divine power and mercy of the Lord Jesus that includes everyone, even the lepers who were excluded from society under the Mosaic Law. Jesus came to save the lost sheep, not those who were already saved. He opens His arms to all, drawing them to His Sacred Heart that radiates with infinite healing love.

Secondly, we heard Jesus telling the cured leper not to say anything to anyone. Now, why would Jesus say something like that? It is because in those days, many believed in the coming of a worldly Kingdom, a secular messianism. Just like what happens today, when some hear of apparitions and miracles, thousands flood the alleged site in the hope of seeing the manifestation of the power of God. They hope and pray for something drastic to happen, for God to suddenly descend from Heaven and to bring peace in the world. Such shall not happen! The messages of Jesus and Mary, at Lourdes, at Fatima and at all the holy places have always been to pray and live one's Christian faith in righteousness in the hope of inheriting the Kingdom of God through the Blood of Christ.

The third message that is found in the Gospel is that once one is cleansed by Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, he is expected to "freely proclaim" the Gospel and "spread the Word." This is exactly what the cured leper did! He was excited. He had found the truth, the way and the life in Jesus. He went forward and shared it with others for the glory of God the Father.

At the same time, it should be noted that the actions of the leper, contrary to Jesus' command to say nothing to anyone, made it difficult for Jesus to openly speak in the towns because the people would have tried to make Him their leader, their King. As such, Jesus had to distance Himself in the country in order to continue His work.

As St. Paul said in the Second Reading, all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial. It was spiritually right what the leper did but it was not beneficial. It was not according to the Divine Plan of God.

There is a lesson to be learned here for all of us. In our spiritual work for the glory of God, we must be of one mind. We must work together, not against each other. There is no need to compete for glory in the work of the Lord for all glory goes to the Lord Himself. If one seeks glory in his Christian work, then he is not of the Spirit of Christ!

To fully dwell in the Presence of the Lord, we must be one in mind. We must respects our neighbours. We must be committed wholeheartedly to sacrificing ourselves so that we will not offend our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must enjoy a spirit of ecumenism in the hope of drawing to the Lord Jesus those who have fallen from grace and those who have separated themselves from the Holy Catholic Church. My brothers and sisters, that is today's message from God to you! May His Words enrich your spiritual growth in Christ!

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Lv 13:1-2, 44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
“If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.

“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11

R. (7) I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Reading 2 1 Cor 10:31—11:1

Brothers and sisters,
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for the glory of God.
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or
the church of God,
just as I try to please everyone in every way,
not seeking my own benefit but that of the many,
that they may be saved.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Alleluia Lk 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst,
God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Homily for Today

First of all, I would like to wish a good morning to all of you, to the little children and to the adults of our parish. And also to the visitors who are always welcomed to join us in the celebration of the Holy Mass.

Today's Readings echo how the weak human nature often overcomes the spiritual nature that perceives the greater mysteries of God.

Our first example is found in the First Reading from the Book of Job. When reviewing this entire Book of the Old Testament, we come to the realization that the soul of Job was like a yo-yo. One moment, he was uplifted, thinking spiritually; another moment he was down, thinking worldly. One moment, he was like a wave on the ocean; the next moment he was as the calm ocean on which reflects the light of the sun. What did not help Job's ability to reason was that he was surrounded by non-believers who were constantly thinking worldly, those who's lives were as waves on the ocean.

At one time, Job had everything going for him. Blameless and upright, he feared God and turned away from evil. [Job 1:1] He had seven sons and three daughters. [Job 1:2] He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys and very many servants, so that he was the greatest of all the people of the East. [Job 1:3]

During this time, God and Satan were having a little discussion in Heaven regarding the loyalty of Job. Satan alleged that the only reason why Job was loyal to God was because the Lord had been good to him, having blessed him with so many things. Satan said to God, "But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face." [Job 1:11] Hearing this, the Lord said to Satan, "Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!" [[Job 1:12]

Following this, within a period of time, Job lost everything that he had, his sons and daughters, all his animals and his servants. But amidst this, Job remained faithful to God. Seeing this, Satan repeated to God, "But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face." [Job 2:5] The Lord told Satan to go ahead but to spare the life of Job. And so Satan inflicted Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. [Job 2:7]

Now, those who knew Job, saw what had happened to him. Suddenly, while functioning at the worldly level, they became overnight experts of spiritual wisdom. Three of Job's friends came to visit him, each one being judgmental and having his own answer as to why Job was suffering as he was. One said that Job had sinned. Another said that Job should repent. The last said that Job's guilt deserved punishment.

Even the wife of Job questioned his integrity, telling him to curse God so he could die. [Job 2:9] But, remaining faithful in the service of the Lord, Job said, "Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?" [Job. 1:10]

Now Job was going through hard times like some of us experience at times in life. Speaking to his friends, he was deploring his life, even to the point of cursing the day he was born. [Job 3:1] He viewed life three ways, as service in the armed forces, as a day labourer and as a slave, each of these ways of life being a wretch state of life. Here we see the influence of those around Job, they influencing him to think worldly rather than spiritual. Job no longer remembered the blessings of God that he had received in the past, only seeing what he presently had... that being nothing.

It is obvious from hearing the words of Job that he was depressed, experiencing great loneliness because he had no one to turn to who could uplift him spiritually. While going through this state of mind, Job was questioning the purpose of life. Thinking worldly, he asked, "If mortals die, will they live again?" [Job. 14:14] Thinking spiritually, he said, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God." [Job. 19:25-6]

Now it is interesting to note that Job, while thinking spiritually, believed in a Redeemer and the resurrection of the flesh when in those days, nothing was known of judgment and the eternal happiness after death that awaits those who persevere in their living faith.

Reverting to worldly thinking, Job found the nights long, tossing in his bed all night until dawn. He saw his days coming to an end without hope, his life being but a breath, his eyes never being able to see good again.

In all his suffering, Job did not know what we know, that he was being tested by God to see if he would remain faithful in the service of the Lord. He did not know that Satan was challenging God regarding his loyalty. He did not know that in the end, God would reward his faithful loyalty, blessing him with more than he had in the beginning.

In this reading, there is a lesson for each and everyone of us. No matter what happens in life, we should always think spiritually in order to try to understand the grace of God at work in our lives. We should not curse God as the wife of Job recommended. We should not be judgmental of others, saying that their sufferings are the result of sin. For God alone knows why all things happen to us, be they good or bad as we would say in simple English.

When something happens to us or to our loved ones that we cannot explain with a worldly mind, then we should attempt to embrace a spiritual mind in order to understand the message that God is giving us. Is God sanctifying us? Is He testing our faith? Is He testing our perseverance? Is He testing our love towards others? Is He teaching us self-control, to refrain us from gossiping or judging others? With a prayerful mind, by the power of the Spirit of God, the one who seeks an answer will always be inspired as to why things happen the way they do in life.

During today's Second Reading, we heard how St. Paul also remained faithful in the service of the Lord. Thinking spiritually, he considered himself as a slave who was indebted to Jesus, never being able to repay for the gift of salvation that was promised to him by the grace of God. The fact that he had been chosen by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel was not a reason to boast. It was an obligation as a born again Christian to preach the Word of God in answer to his calling to walk his living faith in Christ.

Also, we must not forget that St. Paul must have known of the reward that awaits those who persevere in their living faith. This reason could have motivated him to preach the Gospel so that he could share in the eternal reward that awaits all those who remain as faithful servants of the Lord Jesus. What is that eternal reward? The Book of Daniels [12:3], tells us that "Those who lead many to righteousness, (they shall shine) like the stars forever and ever."

St. Paul viewed his work for the Lord as he being entrusted with a commission. This is like a king who sends his ambassador to a foreign country with a special message. The ambassador receives a commission that must be fulfilled. He does not have time for himself or to make a side trip. His first and utmost preoccupation is to deliver the message at all cost in complete obedience and service to his king.

In the same way, St. Paul viewed his calling from Jesus. He felt spiritually obligated to fulfill his commission as it had been entrusted to him.

Now, how did St. Paul fulfill his commission? He refused to charge for the service of preaching. He could have charged! In Chapter 9 of the First Letter to the Corinthians, it says, "In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the Gospel would get their living by the Gospel." [1 Cor. 9:14] But, Paul felt that if he charged a fee for preaching, he would have his worldly reward, being denied the spiritual reward to come. Since he had been commissioned by Jesus to do this work, he felt that he had no right to take advantage of the others by charging for the service. Having received freely, he gave freely, counting on the Lord God to reward him at the end of his worldly journey.

St. Paul goes on to say that in order to win many over to Christ, he made himself a slave to all. He set aside many of the freedoms that he previously enjoyed in order to make himself acceptable to all men. He followed the teachings of Jesus who said that the greater one is the slave of all, the one who serves at the table. [Lk. 22:25-7] Jesus also said, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you (the Christians); but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." [Mk. 10:42-5]

So, even here, we hear of the Lord Jesus as being a faithful servant to His Heavenly Father, being obedient to the end.

From today's Gospel Reading, we further see how Jesus served the Heavenly Father in answering His Divine Commission to announce that the Kingdom of God on earth was coming. As proof of His Divinity, Jesus performed numerous miracles. Earlier, we heard how he cured the mother-in-law of Simon who had fever. Once cured, Simon's mother-in-law got up and served Jesus and those who were present. This example affirms that those who have been saved by Christ through a spiritual rebirth and healing, are expected to serve the Lord God.

Now, Jesus' ministry at Capernaum was not limited to a few friends. Jesus made Himself available to all those in need who accepted Him as the Son of God. Earlier, we heard that at sundown, the city was gathered around the door where Jesus was present. The people brought the sick and those who were possessed with demons to Jesus. And Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. At the same time, He would not allow the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

Later, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place where He prayed. Consequently, Simon and his companions went out looking for Him.

Here, we see the worldly mind at work again. Simon said, "Everyone is searching for you." This implies that Jesus should remain at Capernaum and gain fame from the popularity of His miracles. But Jesus, being spiritually minded, refuse to limit His ministry to one place or to encourage the belief of a coming worldly Kingdom of God. Responding to Simon, He said, "Let us go to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And Jesus travelled throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message of the spiritual Kingdom of God in the synagogues and casted out demons.

As you have heard during today's Readings, we have different examples of how one can think spiritually versus worldly thinking. We have come to the realization that in order to remain faithful in the service of the Lord, we must embrace a spiritual mind so that we can understand the things of God.

We have learned that no matter how hard life can be at time, by the power of the Holy Spirit and a spiritual approach, we can overcome any obstacles by the grace of God the Father in the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

We have learned of the necessity to associate with those who are spiritually minded. If we surround ourselves with those who are worldly, we will begin to think like them, suppressing our spiritual thoughts that are in harmony with the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

We have learned that we have an obligation to serve the Lord Jesus in thanksgiving for the Sacrament of Baptism that has made us children of God, of the godly seed. We receive freely from God and we should give freely to others, not expecting a worldly reward for our spiritual work by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I am sure that there are other lessons that can be learned from today's readings. By the grace of God the Father, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to specific lessons that apply to us so we may be sanctified in Christ.

This week, I ask you all to reflect on today's readings and ask yourselves, "What is God's message to me this week from these readings?" Once you perceive God's message, you will know that you have embraced a spiritual heart. You will also come to the realization that the Holy Spirit is working through you because you are becoming faithful in the service of the Lord.

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Jb 7:1-4, 6-7

Job spoke, saying:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (cf. 3a) Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Praise the LORD, for he is good;
sing praise to our God, for he is gracious;
it is fitting to praise him.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem;
the dispersed of Israel he gathers.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He tells the number of the stars;
he calls each by name.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
to his wisdom there is no limit.
The LORD sustains the lowly;
the wicked he casts to the ground.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Alleluia Mt 8:17

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel 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.

Weekly Prayer

This is from the website Living with Christ a nice prayer for the week!

Weekly Prayer

Sunday, February 8, 2015
“Everyone is looking for you.”

Jesus, I know
I should be praying more.
I know I could benefit
from more “alone time”
to think about my life
and share its events with you--
and to bring all my
worries and needs to you.

I know I should spend
more time praising God,
and more time thinking
of how well or how badly
I am responding to
my baptismal call to follow you,
and to grow in your love.

But, Jesus, my life is so hectic,
and my few quiet moments
are so full of interruptions!

But it was the same for you!
Here you are,
trying to go off and pray,
and the disciples come after you
because the crowds
are looking for you.

You don’t complain
about being interrupted.
Instead, you get up and go off
on your mission,
because this is “the purpose”
for which you have come.

Jesus, help me
to find quiet moments
to spend time in prayer.
But when life is hectic
and I’m interrupted,
help me to find
the same sense of
purpose and mission you felt
so that I might
give of myself
out of love for others,
just as you did.

When I am frazzled or weary,
help me to trust that you will
give me the inner peace,
love, courage, patience,
and strength I need
to be your disciple.

Thank you for always being with me,
even when I feel very far from you.
Amen.

Some Prayers for Today

"Lord Jesus Christ, you have all power to heal and to deliver from harm. There is no trouble nor bondage you cannot overcome. Set me free to serve you joyfully and to love and serve others generously. May nothing hinder me from giving myself wholly to you and to your service."
  

Lord, I believe that you are the Son of God, who became man so that you could deliver us from sin and open the gates of heaven for us. I hope in you because you are mercy itself and because you seek my true good in every instant. I love you and long for my love to grow since you deserve to be absolutely first in my life. Thank you for these moments of intimacy with you now.

 

 Lord, you came that we may have life and have it to the full. You love us so much. Open my heart to the greatness of your love for all mankind. Help me to see that the Church is your Bride and the universal sacrament of salvation. Grant that I may serve you as a faithful son or daughter of the Church, spreading your Word ever further.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Don’t Waste Your Lent: 7 Ways to Have a Good Lent

I saw this article at Catholic Exchange and with Lent coming thought it was great to share with all of you!

Don’t Waste Your Lent: 7 Ways to Have a Good Lent

Lent is a season of penance and ascetical warfare. The enemy is concupiscence, the world, and the devil. The goal is pure hearts so that we can joyfully celebrate the resurrection of our Lord at Easter, the greatest feast of the liturgical year. In a way, Lent should be a microcosm of our entire struggle on earth, just as the Paschal feast of Easter is a microcosm of our heavenly triumph in Christ. Yet, a good Lent takes focus and discipline, and it can easily be wasted.
In my own experience, I often begin the lenten season with the best of intentions. I imagine myself going into full ascetic mode, fasting and praying as ardently as one of the monastic fathers in the desert. And maybe for the first week I succeed through sheer strength of will. Then, just when I am feeling good about myself, everything falls apart and I come face to face with my own weakness.
We’ve all been there at some point, and so today I’d like to share 7 practical ways to have a good Lent.
1. Have a plan – The fastest way to ruin Lent is to have good intentions but no plan. Be specific. “I’m going to pray more,” isn’t good enough. Download this helpful worksheet. Once you’ve determined what you are going to do, stick to it every single day.One word of advice: Make it doable. Often, we are overly ambitious and commit to way too much. When we fail in our lenten goals, we grow discouraged and give up completely. This is a victory for the devil. Make your commitments modest and practical, and your Lent will be the better for it.
2. Read a good book – The saints are constantly exhorting us to read good spiritual books, and there is no better time to begin this practice than during Lent. Reading Scripture or the writings of the saints is a great place to start. Here are some suggestions for Lenten reading:
3. Examine yourself - Lent is an excellent time to take an inventory of the state of your soul. What are your predominant faults? Do you have any hidden idols in your life? What is keeping you from following the will of God with all your heart? Use a thorough examination of conscience to help you assess your spiritual health.Remember, Lent is not ultimately about giving up sweets or other things we enjoy, it is first and foremost about repentance, which means giving up up sin and returning to God, our loving Father. While taking inventory of your sins may be painful, it is a healthy pain that restores the soul.
4. Confess your sins – After examining your conscience, the logical next step is to go to confession. Normally, it can be hard to find a parish with confession readily available (thirty minutes on a Saturday isn’t enough!), but the good news is, many parishes have increased confession times during Lent, so it’s a great time to go.Before receiving the sacrament of penance, though, remember the five requirements for a good confession: 1) Examination of conscience 2) True contrition for having offended God 3) Firm resolution to sin no more 4) Clear confession (don’t hold any sins back) 5) Penance for the sins you have committed
5. Pray - Let’s face it, we can all pray more, and Lent is a great time to plan and implement a daily prayer rule that can guide you the rest of the year. During this season, however, we should especially focus our prayers on repentance and contrition for our sins. Here are some suggestions for Lenten prayer.
6. Fast - I’ve written before about the importance of prayer and fasting, so suffice it to say that it is something we should be doing all year round, not just during Lent. Still, Lent is a very good time to refocus our efforts and renew our commitment. We should especially focus on fasting from things related to our predominant sins.Are you addicted to Instagram or Facebook? Fast from them. Maybe you’re binge watching shows on Netflix. Give it up. On the other hand, maybe you’re addicted to criticizing others. Make a special effort to fast from negative speech. The point is, while fasting from certain foods is an excellent ascetical practice, we do not have to limit our lenten fasting to things we eat. Remember the words of Jesus: “If you’re eye offend you, pluck it out.” Nothing should stand between us and the heavenly kingdom, and we should be intentional about cutting off those things that are causing us to sin.
7. Give alms – During Lent, we especially remember the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. This is the greatest act of generosity in history, for Jesus died not just for his friends, but for his enemies. “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The generosity of God in Christ should impel us to be generous and merciful to others, especially those poor and in need.This Lent, find a way to give, whether it is supporting a religious order or helping at a homeless shelter. Remember the promise of Jesus, “And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

You Cannot Fail

I began this post by talking about my own failure, and yet, when it comes to lenten disciplines, true failure is not really possible. I mean that even failing in our commitments can help us grow in humility and knowledge of our own spiritual poverty—and growth in these is always spiritual advancement.
This Lent, do your best. Strive to root out sin and cultivate holiness. But when you fail, realize that even those who can be considered righteous fall seven times daily (Prov. 24:16). Let it be a lesson in humility that drives you back to the grace of God flowing from the pierced heart of Jesus—for that is the true heart of Lent.
The post Don’t Waste Your Lent: 7 Ways to Have a Good Lent appeared first on The Catholic Gentleman.
This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at The Catholic Gentleman.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

This Sunday's Homily


"I will raise up for them a prophet!" [Deut. 18:18] What a very powerful Bible verse! Good morning my friends, my brothers and sisters in Jesus. Today, we are celebrating the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In the First Reading, we heard of God's promise to Moses that He would raise up for us a prophet. This is only one of God's many promises that were made and are found in the Old Testament, each of them having been fulfilled through Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament.

About five weeks ago, we celebrated the arrival of the promised prophet in the incarnation of God through Christ. In a few weeks, we will celebrate the resurrection of the greatest of all prophets, the Lord Jesus.

When reference is made to Jesus as the prophet, it must be understood that the word "prophet" in the days of Moses meant a "mediator" between God and man. Moses was a mediator. He spoke to the people on behalf of God and spoke to God on behalf of the people. Based on that particular function as mediator between God and man, the Lord God promised to raise a prophet just like Moses who would be a Mediator between God and man. This is seen in Jesus who is the Mediator between God and man. Now, "There is one Mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all - this was attested at the right time." [1 Tim. 2:5-6]

The word prophet is symbolic, meaning the promised Messiah. While the people waited for a great prophet to deliver them, the Heavenly Father sent them someone who was greater than a prophet, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus was asked if He was the prophet, He answered, 'No!' [Jn. 1:21] At the same time, the people continued to view Jesus as the promised prophet because He fulfilled all the promises of God the Father through His incarnation as God on earth. [Jn. 6:14, 7:40]

Even St. Peter, when he spoke in Solomon's Portico, he referred to Jesus as being the prophet who was raised by God in fulfillment of the promise made in Deuteronomy 18:18. [Acts 3:22] Stephen spoke in the same way of Jesus when he spoke to the Council [Acts 7:37] before he was stoned to death. [Acts 7:58-60]

Now, while Moses was only a prophet, not being God, there are parallels between him and Jesus. As Jesus had a unique relationship with God the Father, Moses also had a unique relationship with the Lord, God speaking to Moses face to face. [Exo. 33:11] Never has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. [Deut. 34:10]

Next to Jesus who performed the most and greatest miracles, comes Moses. "Moses was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of Israel." [Deut. 34:11-2]

The Lord God promised to Moses that He would raise up for the people a prophet like him [Moses] from among their own people. He would put His words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to the people everything that He commands. [Deut. 18:18] These words echo the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John where it says, "... The word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me." [Jn. 14:24, 17:8, 17:14]

Concluding God's message that is found in the First Reading, Moses said that if anyone does not heed the words that the prophet speaks in the Name of God, God Himself will hold accountable. [Deut. 18:19] Reference to our accountability to God is frequently found in the New Testament. [1 Pet. 4:5; Heb. 13:17] One Bible passage says, "So then, each of us will be accountable to God." [Rom. 14:12]

At the same time, if any prophet speaks in the name of other gods, or speaks in the Name of God a word that He has not commanded the prophet to speak - that prophet shall die. [Deut. 18:20] A fulfillment of this promise is found in the First Book of Kings where the 450 prophets of Baal were killed when Elijah challenged their god against our God, the one and only true God. [1 Kgs. 18:40]

Reviewing today's Second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians, it is a follow-up of last Sunday's Second Reading. Last Sunday, we heard that the virgins deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. [1 Cor. 7:25, 31] They are detached from the world, living in the hope of things to come.

This week, St. Paul tells the believers to lead the life that the Lord has assigned them, to which God has called them. The Holy Spirit inspired St. Paul to tell the believers that God wants them to be free from anxieties.

The virgin, the unmarried man and woman, are called to be anxious about the affairs of the Lord, on how to please the Lord so they may be holy in body and spirit. Those who are married experience anxieties regarding the affairs of the world, how to please their spouse, their interest being divided between God and the world.

To live free of anxieties, those who are married must be reasonable, not placing any restraint upon themselves. They have to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord. At the same time, being caught up in the affairs of the world, they have a commitment towards their spouse and their family. They must not neglect this calling for the Spirit of God dwells within everybody. Showing love towards others in obedience to the Commandments, a Christian can enjoy a living faith in Christ that is different from the religious life but still very pleasing in the eyes of God.

When God promised to raise a prophet for the people, this promise was not just for those who are virgins but also for those who are married. This proof is found in the Sacrament of Marriage that is Sacred in the eyes of God.

Moving on to today's Gospel, we heard that Jesus entered the synagogue and taught in Capernaum. Those who heard Him were astounded at His teachings because He taught with authority, not as the scribes. Here, the authority of Jesus is compared to a rabbi who has the power to impose a decision with a binding authority versus a scribe who cannot do so because he is a teacher of a lower rank.

The authority of Jesus is seen throughout the New Testament where He overthrows the rule of Satan, the Prince of this world, by establishing the invisible Kingdom of God on earth.

Then, we heard that there was in the presence of Jesus a man with an unclean spirit. The man cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God."

Two things stand out in this incident. First of all, the first miracle performed by Jesus is an exorcism. This is affirmed by the word "epitiman" that is used here to say "rebuke", the word also meaning "to exorcise." The first miracle of an exorcism is a sign that evil is destroyed in the Divine Presence of Jesus.

Secondly, the evil spirit that possessed the man recognised Jesus as the Messiah, He who is anointed with God's Spirit and who possesses power over evil spirits. The evil spirit calls the name of Jesus twice, first as Jesus of Nazareth and then as the Holy One of God. While Jesus had been trying to hide His true identity as the Messiah from the crowd, but not from His true followers, the demons recognized Him and identified His true identity in public.

As we heard earlier, Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to be silent and to come out of the man. Once that happened, those who were present were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching - with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." The people had never seen such great power, nor ever heard of it since the days of Moses. The authority of Jesus went beyond performing miracles in the visible world. He had the authority over the invisible world as much as over the visible one. It is no wonder that the people considered Jesus to be the promised prophet!

Summarizing today's Holy Readings, in Jesus, we have seen the fulfillment of God's promise to send a prophet like Moses. Through St. Paul who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, we have heard that God wants us to be free of anxieties in our calling, especially those who are married. Through Jesus, we have heard of his authority that reaches far beyond miraculous manifestations in this world.

As we reflect this week upon this spiritual knowledge and understanding of the Word of God, let us remember the calling that each one of us has received as children of God through the Sacrament of Baptism. Let us answer that calling by living our vocations without anxieties, placing our faith, hope and trust in Jesus who has all authority as the only begotten Son of God.

Finally, let us be thankful to God for providing us with the opportunity to hear His Word today when there are so many throughout the world, in the hospitals, in the senior lodges and in the prisons who do not have this opportunity because of the shortage of priests.

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Dt 18:15-20

Moses spoke to all the people, saying:
“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kin;
to him you shall listen.
This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb
on the day of the assembly, when you said,
‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God,
nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’
And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
and will put my words into his mouth;
he shall tell them all that I command him.
Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name,
I myself will make him answer for it.
But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name
an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak,
or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.’”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2 1 Cor 7:32-35

Brothers and sisters:
I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

Alleluia Mt 4:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light;
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death,
light has arisen.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Homily for Today

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