Sunday, June 26, 2016

Homily


Praise the Lord God for the beautiful readings that we have just heard from the Holy Scriptures. They richly fed us with spiritual knowledge and understanding of true discipleship.

During the First Reading, we heard the Word of God that has its origin from the First Book of Kings that is found in the Old Testament. We heard that the Lord commissioned Elijah to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, as the prophet to succeed him. [1 Kgs. 19:16]

In obedience to the Lord, Elijah set out to find Elisha. When Elijah found Elisha, he was ploughing the twelfth yoke of oxen. As such there were eleven pairs of oxen that were harnessed ahead of him. [1 Kgs. 19:19] From this large number of oxen, we can conclude that Elisha came from a fairly rich family.

Passing by Elisha, Elijah threw his mantle over him. [1 Kgs. 19:19] While this appears to be a strange thing to do, in those days, it meant two things.

First of all, because the mantle represents the personality and rights of its owner, [Ruth 3:9] its casting over Elisha meant that Elisha now belonged to Elijah. Secondly, because the hair-shirt mantle was part of the official dress [2 Kgs. 1:8; Zech. 13:4] of the prophets, to cast it over another person meant a formal investing with the authority that comes from being initiated in the membership of prophets.

From this action, Elisha perceived that God was calling him through Elijah to become a prophet. Leaving the oxen, Elisha ran after Elijah, asked permission to say goodbye to his parents, and accepted God's calling to become a prophet. To this Elijah answered, "Go back again; for what have I done to you?" [1 Kgs. 19:20]

While this response of Elijah appears to say that he had done nothing to Elisha, the words hold a spiritual truth. As a servant of the Lord God, it was not Elijah who was calling and anointing Elisha, but rather, the almighty God Himself through Elijah.

What followed was most interesting. As a public sign of renouncing his previous life, Elisha offered a sacrificial meal on the spot. He slaughtered the yoke of oxen and used his farming equipment to make a fire on which he boiled their flesh. Then he shared the meat with his neighbours. [1 Kgs. 19:21; 1 Sam. 6:14; 2 Sam. 24:22- 3] Having done all this, Elisha followed Elijah.

From this example, we can see true discipleship. Elisha did not hesitate to answer God's call. Through the action of Elijah, Elisha believed that God was calling him and he immediately gave his "yes." His wholehearted obedience meant disposing of all the riches that he possessed.

Through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism, we Catholic who have become members of the Body of Christ, have also become servants and slaves of Jesus. As Elisha accepted to live a holy life by submitting himself to the Divine Will of God without hesitation, we Catholics are also called to be holy by standing firm and not submitting ourselves to the yoke of slavery. For Christ has set us free from the yoke of slavery.

As true disciples of the Lord Jesus who have been freed from the slavery of sin, we have been called to become slaves to one another [Gal. 5:13] in Christ. As slaves of Christ, to return to the desires of worldly flesh, pleasures, fame and wealth is to renounce the call of our "yes" to the Lord God.

Bound by the spiritual law of Christ, our commandment is, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." [Gal. 5:14] Through the whole law, "there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him." [Rom. 10:12] If we love this one but we do not love that one, we are not of Christ. If we limit our love to those of a certain gender, age or ethnic background, we are not of Christ.

We have been called to live by the spirit, [Gal. 5:16] the spirit of adoption [Gal. 4:5] that we have received through Christ. "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God." [Rom. 8:14]

"What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit." [Jn. 3:6] We having been born of the Spirit are spirit "and what the spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent us from doing what we want, what is righteous." [Gal. 5:17]

Being born again in Christ, we have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit Who inclines our new hearts towards all righteousness, we have a living hope of completing our journey on earth. Through the sanctifying fire of the Holy Spirit, we have a living hope of eternal joy and peace in the Kingdom of God.

During today's Gospel Reading, we heard that Jesus was rejected by the Samaritans. The Jews and the Samaritans did not see eye-to-eye together and as such, they were not the type to associate with one another. The Samaritans were originally Gentile people who had descended from foreigners who had settled in Israel after the deportation of the Israelites in 721 B.C. [2 Kgs 17; Ezra 4:1-3; Neh. 4:1-9]

Knowing that His ministry was approaching its end, Jesus set His eyes on Jerusalem, [Lk. 9:51] where He had to go to be rejected and face death as it was written in the prophecies of the Old Testament. Because Jesus set His eyes on Jerusalem, the Samaritans did not receive Him. [Lk. 9:53] Making a distinction between the Jews and the Samaritans, they did not love their neighbours as themselves. They had not learned the meaning of true discipleship.

When James and John, the disciples of Jesus, saw how the Samaritans had hardened their hearts, they asked Jesus for permission to command fire to come down from Heaven and to consume them. [Lk. 9:54] Jesus turned and rebuked them. [Lk. 9:55] For the approach of Jesus has never been one of using force. It has been, "If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also." [Mt. 5:39]

Because James and John showed little patience towards the Samaritans, being ready to command fire to come down from Heaven, [Lk. 9:54] Jesus called them the "sons of thunder." [See Mk. 3:17]

As Jesus was going along the road, someone came to Him and said that he would follow Jesus wherever He went. [Lk. 9:57] To him, Jesus said, "'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." [Lk. 9:58] From this response, we learn two things. First of all, from the words, "foxes have holes," which is symbolic of "hiding," Jesus was saying that He does not trick anyone into following Him. Secondly, by stating that foxes and birds have a resting place, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head, Jesus was indicating that in true discipleship, He expects total dedication. "No one can serve two masters, for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." [Mt. 6:24]

Then Jesus told one person to follow Him. The person replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." [Lk. 9:59] To this, Jesus said, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." [Lk. 9:60]

Through these words, Jesus was saying, "Let those who are spiritually dead bury those who are physically dead. My message is one of life." In His response, Jesus did not intend to be taken literally. Rather, He wanted to stir the thoughts of those who were present. Jesus was fully aware of the respect that the children had towards their parents, especially when it concerned burying one's parents. This filial piety was deep rooted within Judaism. [Gen. 49:28-50:3; Ex. 13:19; Tob. 4:3, 6:15]

To another who said that He would follow Jesus after saying farewell to those at his home, Jesus said, "No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." [Lk. 9:61-2] In other words, in true discipleship, ploughing demands more than what was demanded of Elisha. [1 kgs. 19:19-21] To plough for the Kingdom of God, it demands sacrifices. If one takes the time to look back, the work of God shall suffer.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this is today's message to us from God. In true discipleship, there is no turning back. There is no turning back to the worldly ways. As slaves of Christ, we are expected to continuously move forward by growing in our spiritual lives through the grace of God the Father and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

This week, let us consider this truth according to our callings, be it the religious life, the matrimonial life or the single life. Are we spiritually growing in our callings? Are we being loyal to our Master? Are we being true disciples? And if some find that there is much to be desired in their lives, may they take this opportunity to change their hearts while the grace of God is at work in them this week.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 11 KGS 19:16B, 19-21

The LORD said to Elijah:
“You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah,
as prophet to succeed you.”

Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,
as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;
he was following the twelfth.
Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,
“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,
and I will follow you.”
Elijah answered, “Go back!
Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;
he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,
and gave it to his people to eat.
Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

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

R. (cf. 5a) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
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. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
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. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
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. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Reading 2GAL 5:1, 13-18

Brothers and sisters:
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
But do not use this freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement,
namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
But if you go on biting and devouring one another,
beware that you are not consumed by one another.

I say, then: live by the Spirit
and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. 
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Alleluia1 SM 3:9; JN 6:68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 9:51-62

When the days for Jesus' being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him. 
On the way they entered a Samaritan village 
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. 
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
"Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?" 
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,
"I will follow you wherever you go." 
Jesus answered him,
"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."

And to another he said, "Follow me." 
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." 
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. 
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 
And another said, "I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home." 
To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

Prayers for Today

"Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess you have given me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace - with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more." (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556)

Lord, I wish to put aside all distractions and to give you my total focus. I will do nothing more important today than to meditate prayerfully on your goodness and your active role in my life. Though I am unworthy to be in your presence, I trust in your mercy and love. Through this moment of prayer I want to draw closer to you and learn to live more like you. 


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Homily for Today


Greetings my brothers and sisters in Jesus. Today our faith community is gathered to celebrate the twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Equally, there are hundreds of thousands of other spiritual gatherings that are taking place today throughout the world in the Houses of the Lord before His Real Presence in the Sacred Tabernacle. How pleased Jesus must be with the loving presence of all His children.

Today's First Reading from the Book of Zechariah [Zech. 12:10-11] was prophetic in nature. Seven hundreds and fifty years before its fulfillment, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the prophet Zechariah foretold the piercing of the Lord Jesus on the Holy Cross in Jerusalem and the mourning of many for the One that they loved so much. This prophecy foretold of the tears of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the other women who were present, the Apostles and the many followers of the Lord who admired Him as a great Teacher.

This prophecy also foretold that Jesus, the promised Messiah, would be a descendant of King David who had lived two hundreds and fifty years earlier in time. How marvellous are the prophecies that are received from God. They are one hundred percent accurate, even when foretold one thousand years ahead of time. Truly, for God, all times, past, present and future, coexist as one, He knowing all things.

From today's Second Reading from the Letter to the Galatians, [Gal. 3:26-29] we are reminded that through the Sacrament of Baptism, we have become children of God, sons and daughters of God. Our adoption in the Divine family echoes that we are of Abraham's seed. This does not mean that we are of Abraham's biological seed but rather his spiritual seed. He was the first of God's people. Us, we are counted among the endless number of believers who have embraced the God of Abraham through faith in Christ Jesus.

As a body without a spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. It is insufficient to just have faith in Jesus. Christ commanded us to receive the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church that He has instituted on earth. He commanded us to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist through participation in the great Feast of the Holy Mass on a weekly basis. He commanded us to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony by marrying a believer to protect and defend the precious gift of faith that we have received from our ancestors by the grace of God.

To clothe ourselves with Christ means to continuously receive the Sacraments, to live as Jesus lived, to obey God's Commandments, to be faithful to the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, to live holy lives by loving one another as Christ loved us. So great was the love of Jesus that He laid down His life for each and everyone of us.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Luke [Lk. 9:18-24] delivered a number of spiritual messages to us.

First of all, the attention is drawn on Jesus. Who was Jesus? Who did the crowds think that He was? Who did Saint Peter think that Jesus was? There were those who believed that Jesus was John the Baptist who had returned. Some believed that He was Elijah. Others believed that He was one of the prophets of long ago who had come back to life. These answers echoed either returning from the dead or reincarnation. Both of these beliefs are rejected by the Holy Catholic Church. The dead do not return for a second chance. There is no second chance. When we move on after death, we are judged accordingly to the way we have lived in this life, this one and only life.

When Peter was asked who he thought that Jesus was, He answered, "The Messiah of God." The word "Messiah" is Hebrew for the word "anointed." The Greek translation is "christos" from which comes the word Christ. In Israel, kings, like priests, were anointed. The future King, who was to be the Saviour of His people and the world, came to be spoken of as "the Anointed One." The word was applied to the future Saviour in the Old Testament [Psalm 2], in telling of the conspiracy of the enemies of Jehovah and "his Christ." It was used in later Jewish writings; and the New Testament shows that it was in current use in Our Lord's time.

Secondly, the Gospel draws our attention to Jesus' prophecy that He would suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law. And finally, He would be killed. But on the third day, He would rise from the dead. Such a prophecy must have been hard for the Apostles to swallow. After all, no one comes back from the dead. When you die, your time here on earth is finished, now and forever. What was spoken by Jesus to the Apostles was meaningless at the time. It was only after His glorious Resurrection that the Apostles would remember his prophecy.

Thirdly, the Gospel draws our attention to the necessity to renounce one's life and to follow Jesus by persevering in the trials that may cross our daily path. Those who strive for fame, wealth, pleasures, they are lost. For these goals oppose spiritual growth. It is better to have little and to be happy with it, being thankful to God for all that one receives. It is better to be humble, submissive to God, obedient to the Commandments, than to elevate oneself above all others. Those who defend and spread their faith, they shall be glorified by God throughout eternity. Those who are ashamed of Jesus and their faith, refusing the defend and spread the Catholic faith, they shall be eternally lost. For one cannot serve two masters, the God of glory and the god of indifference.

Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me." That is not just a bunch of words; it is a strict command by the Lord Jesus Himself, to follow Him. This week, let us reflect on these Sacred Words of Jesus. Let us ask ourselves if we are being obedient to the Lord Jesus, if we are taking up our cross and following Him. If so, then praise the Lord. If not, then it is never too late to begin. This week, let us also pray for one another, especially for those who need to take up their cross, that they may find the strength to do so for the glory of the Lord Jesus.

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1ZEC 12:10-11; 13:1

Thus says the LORD:
I will pour out on the house of David
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and petition;
and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, 
and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son,
and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great
as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

On that day there shall be open to the house of David
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.

Responsorial PsalmPS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Reading 2GAL 3:26-29

Brothers and sisters:
Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free person,
there is not male and female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s children,
heirs according to the promise.

AlleluiaJN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 9:18-24

Once when Jesus was praying by himself,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist;
others, Elijah;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He scolded them
and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Peace Through Daily Prayer & Faith

This article found at Catholic Exchange sparked my interest as it truly helps and I have been trying to do this lately and having god there and praying really does make things different. Please enjoy.



Yesterday was a day for multi-tasking.
I had to prepare and meet with a client at work, then work on multiple projects while there, then drive home to take my mom to a doctor’s appointment, then drive back to the same town I work in to take her to the doctor’s appointment, then get back home to work on some home projects, before ending my day as quickly as it started.
And throughout this entire day…I kept a smile on my face, and peace in my soul.
Are you serious?
shutterstock_346619663

Yes. I am.
Now, before you become too impressed, I have to fully admit, this isn’t a normal reaction for me. Most of the time multi-tasking has been something that has caused me a lot of stress. I usually end up anxious, moody and some times even a bit snappish with people.
But yesterday was different, because I took a different approach. I started my day with an awareness that the day was looking to be very busy, so I prayed to God early for help.
Not only did I pray for help that morning, but I prayed to God that He would help me to be in union with Him, in whatever happened that day, good or bad. And He answered my prayer.
Even though it was a very busy, hectic day – I remained calm.
I didn’t worry about my meeting. I simply spoke when I had questions, or when I felt I needed to offer my opinion. I felt no pressure to speak to impress others, or to give the other people in the meeting the impression that I knew more than I did.
On all of my car rides to and from work and the doctor, I never felt the need to rush anywhere. I let people drive the way they wanted to drive, and I just flowed with the traffic, no matter how fast, or congested it was.

Prayer for Our Everyday Lives

I’ve been praying for years – twelve to be exact – since I converted to Catholicism, from being an agnostic. But for most of my post-conversion years my prayers were usually limited to special intentions, friends and family that were sick or in hard times, or for world situations.
But rarely have I prayed for my day-to-day life. Praying for my normal tasks, normal duties – things that come with every day. And by neglecting this, I’ve realized that I have limited God’s potential in my life.
It’s only recently that I’m learning to include God in my daily activities.
In every decision.
In every action.
In every thing I do.
When we are stressed out or feeling anxious, it’s mostly because we want to be somewhere at a certain time, or want something to happen the way we want it to happen. We desire other people to be (or drive, or talk, or react) the way we want them to, and are stressed when they simply don’t comply. And many (if not most) of these stresses we feel are entirely self-created.
We create our own anxiety. And we think we have the solutions to solve our own day-to-day problems.

Allowing God into Our Lives through Prayer and Faith

It’s only when we turn our problems and our daily tasks and duties over to God, that we are able to gain peace. Because when we allow God into our daily lives, our interior peace is no longer disturbed by daily events that are not in our control.
When we pray and commend our day to God, asking for His help, it’s then that we become less attached to our own desires, and no longer complain when things are not going the way we wanted.
It’s when we pray and commend our day to God, asking for His help, that it feels so much more easy, and natural, to be kind and compassionate to others – even those whose actions and personalities are not in compliance with our desires for them.
It’s when we pray and commend our day to God, asking for His help, that we can deal with the stresses of our lives, instead of complaining about them or running away from them.
It’s when we pray and commend our day to God, asking for His help, that we can learn to give proper attention to every person and every duty in our lives, without giving them too much or too little.
Your desires will gradually become less focused on yourself and more focused on God and His desire for you. He will take care of all the details.

Daily Prayer and Faith

With a commitment to daily prayer, and faith in God that He will help us through our daily lives, we can become calm and peaceful in the midst of the raging flow around us that is called “life”.
Prayer and faith that God will answer our prayers.
These two things are essential.
When you have succeeded in giving yourself to God, without any reservation, then God will give Himself to you so completely that you’ll neither need nor desire your old ways of managing the stresses of this life.
Prayer.
Faith.

Homily for Today's Mass

The greater the sinner who's sins are forgiven, the greater is the love that he shall display towards the Lord Jesus. Good morning my brothers and sisters in Christ. May I extend a warm welcome to the visitors who have joined our faith community on this day of the Lord.

As you may have noted, today's readings spoke of the necessity of repentance and forgiveness in order to receive the gift of salvation.

Reviewing the chain of events that led to today's First Reading from the Second Book of Samuel, verses 12:7-10, 13, one day, while David was walking about on the roof of the King's house, he saw a woman bathing. Failing to control his eyes, the sin of lust struck David to the heart. He sent someone to inquire as to who was the woman. The person reported that the woman was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. As a consequence of this grave sin of adultery, Bathsheba became pregnant.

Having already severed his relationship with God, David did not stop there. Desiring Bathsheba for himself, he engineered the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. When Uriah was killed, after having been placed in a deadly position during battle at the order of David, David brought Bathsheba to his house, married her, and she bore him a son.

Now the Lord God, He Who is all-knowing, was not blind to the lustful and murderous actions of David. God sent the prophet Nathan to pronounce judgment upon David. Because David repented of his sins, they were forgiven. But David still had to endure a punishment for the remission for his sins. His son, born through the adulteress affair, was taken away from his by the Lord.

Through today's First Reading, we learn that if an individual sincerely repents of his sins, God can and will forgive him of all his sins, even those of adultery and murder. God always seeks to call us back to faithfulness and fidelity to Him. Such is manifested by the grace of God. Without it, we could never repent and reconcile with God when we sin.

Today's Second Reading from the Letter to the Galatians began with the following words, "We know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ." [Gal. 2:16] When Paul said that a person is not justified by the works of the law, he was referring to the Mosaic Law and all its ceremonies, the different kinds of animal sacrifices and offerings for the forgiveness of sins. With the arrival of the Messiah, the Mosaic Law had become obsolete. No one could be saved by performing the works of the law, the ceremonial sacrifices of animals. Paul appealed to the conviction that was shared by him and Peter at the time of their conversions. Like them, other Jewish person had to realize their inability to achieve uprightness by the "deeds of the Laws."

When Paul referred to justification by faith, he was making reference to the necessary attitude of a person that includes the acceptance of the Divine revelation made known through Christ and the necessity for the individual to respond to it with complete dedication of his/her personal life to Christ.

Because the Christian has been crucified with Christ, it is no longer he who lives, but it is Christ who lives in him. This new status of justification of the Christian was not achieved because of good works; it was only made possible for him through his crucifixion with Christ. Crucified with Christ, the new Christian has died to the Law. Through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism, [Rom. 6:3] the Christian has been identified with the phases of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection. And so he can "live for God".

The perfection of the Christian life is expressed in these few words, "It is Christ who lives in me." [Gal. 2:20] This perfection is not merely an existence dominated by a new psychological motivation. Yet, it must eventually penetrate the individual's psychological awareness, so that he realizes in faith that his real life comes only from the redemptive and vicarious surrender of the Son of God. Faith in Christ does not substitute a new norm or goal of action. Rather it reshapes man anew internally, supplying his very new being with a new purpose in life that is moved by Christ Who lives in him.

Summarizing today's Second Reading, Paul tells us that when we are baptized, our faith transforms us. In Jesus, we become one with each other in the Body of Christ. Once a member of the Body of Christ, there is no social or religious distinctions, neither American or European, neither male or female, neither a child or a senior, neither white or black, neither rich or poor. All who have been baptized in Christ, they hold the same status, the same worth, the same value, no matter what they are or who they are. Equal in God's eyes and in His Kingdom, they all inherit the same glory.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Luke [Lk. 7:36-8:3] related to us the event concerning the penitent woman. The reading began with a Pharisee inviting Jesus to eat with him at his house. In consideration of the fact that the Pharisees usually displayed animosity towards Jesus, it was courageous for this one Pharisee to show hospitality by inviting Jesus to dinner.

In relating the event, the Evangelist Luke does not name the woman. He simply characterized her as a sinner (possibly a prostitute, or else a woman married to a man considered an outcast, like a publican). It appears that the woman intended simply to anoint the feet of Jesus with a fragrant myrrh, but as she leaned over, tears gushed forth, which she ingenuously wiped away with her long hair. Completely overcome, she repeatedly kissed his feet.

While Simon silently condemns Jesus for not divining the character of the woman, Jesus proves Himself to be a prophet by reading the secret throughts of Simon. Jesus then presented the parable of the two debtors to Simon, asking him, which person loved the creditor the greater, the one who owed five hundred denarii or the one who only owed fifty.

Comparing this parable to the woman, Jesus said, "Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." The verse "She has shown great love" has been a classic text for showing that perfect charity has the power of forgiving sins. The woman loved Jesus because her sins were forgiven, not that "she was forgiven because she loved Jesus."

Jesus makes it clear that great love springs from a heart that is forgiven and cleansed. From the First Letter of Peter, we read, "Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins." [1 Pet. 4:8] "For love is from God." [1 Jn. 4:7]

The opposing attitudes of Simon and the woman clearly show that we can either accept or reject the mercy of God. Simon viewed himself as an upright Pharisee, displaying an attitude of having no need for love or mercy. His self-sufficiency prevented him from acknowledging his need for the grace of God.

During the Gospel Reading, it was noticed that Jesus neither judged, nor rebuked the woman as the Pharisee expected. Instead, He welcomed her. This approach goes against the ways of the world; we are asked to model love instead of judging, to welcome instead of rejecting. Those who come in contact with Jesus, they manifest one of two behaviours; they are either attracted to Him or repelled by Him. If they are like Simon, they appear to be doing good deeds in order to gain respect, honour, fame or wealth. These persons shun the company of sinners like prisoners, beggars, prostitutes, etc... By doing so, they neglect to give sinners the help that they need to find healing and wholeness.

This week, let us examine our hearts. Do we invite Jesus in our lives for prestige? Or do we love Him because He is the one and only Saviour who has died for our sins?

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Sm 12:7-10, 13

Nathan said to David:
“Thus says the LORD God of Israel:
‘I anointed you king of Israel.
I rescued you from the hand of Saul.
I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own.
I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah.
And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more.
Why have you rejected the LORD and done evil in his sight?
You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword;
you took his wife as your own,
and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites.
Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house,
because you have looked down on me
and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.’”

Then David said to Nathan,
“I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan answered David:
“The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin:
you shall not die.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11

R. (cf. 5c) Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Blessed is the one 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. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
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. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.

Reading 2 Gal 2:16, 19-21

Brothers and sisters:
We who know that a person is not justified by works of the law
but through faith in Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Christ Jesus
that we may be justified by faith in Christ
and not by works of the law,
because by works of the law no one will be justified.
For through the law I died to the law,
that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ;
yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;
insofar as I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God
who has loved me and given himself up for me.
I do not nullify the grace of God;
for if justification comes through the law,
then Christ died for nothing.

Alleluia 1 Jn 4:10b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God loved us and sent his Son
as expiation for our sins.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 7:36—8:3

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Simon, I have something to say to you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply,
"The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven."
He said to him, "You have judged rightly."

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
"Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven
because she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The others at table said to themselves,
"Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But he said to the woman,
"Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others who provided for them
out of their resources.

Or Lk 7:36-50

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Simon, I have something to say to you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred day's wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply,
"The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven."
He said to him, "You have judged rightly."

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
"Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven
because she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The others at table said to themselves,
"Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But he said to the woman,
"Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Homily


My brothers and sisters in Christ, may the grace of God be with each one of you as you hear today's spiritual message that comes from the readings.

The First Reading from the First Book of Kings [1 Kgs 17:17-21, 22-24] took place in the days of the great drought that was long remembered and even recorded in the Tyrian annals, as Menander of Ephesus testified when writing about the reign of Ittobaal of Tyre.

When Elijah visited the widow’s house, she felt that Elijah had been sent by God to make sure that she knew why her son had died. According to the mentality that prevailed in the days of the Old Testament [Jn. 9:2], the people believed that bad things happened as a punishment for their sins. So here we have a women who affirmed that (1) she was a sinner, (2) that her son had died because of her sins and (3) that Elijah had come to make sure that she knew her son’s death was God’s punishment.

But after Elijah’s triad prayerful intercession to God, the child was revived and Elijah gave him back to his mother. This event, the resurrection of the widow's son, enhances the reputation of the Prophet Elijah and thereby helps to establish the authority of his word.

As one would say, by his action, you will know that he is of God. For words without actions are dead. [James 2:17]

In today’s Second Reading from the Letter to the Galatians [Gal. 1:11-19], we heard Paul defending his apostleship. Why did Saint Paul have to defend his apostleship? Why did he have to voice his surprise and shock at the Galatian’s falseness that was taking place? Paul was denouncing another teaching that was taking place and being believed. He condemned this unauthentic gospel, affirming that his alone was the real "Gospel of Christ." [Gal. 1:5] Paul was shocked to see how easy, soon after their conversion, and his evangelization, the allowed themselves to be brainwashed and poisoned by false teachings.

Paul made it clear that since his Gospel originated from Christ, He Who is not divided [1 Cor. 1:13], there can only be one Gospel. [Eph. 4:5]

It appears that the Judaizers had accused Paul of having derived his message not from Christ, but from other preachers, and of having watered it down for the Gentiles by eliminating the obligation of circumcision. His reply reaffirmed the Divine origin of his apostolic commission by explaining his relationship to the mother Church of Jerusalem.

Paul rejected their accusation that he was watering down the Gospel to win many converts, that he was trying to please men. Paul explained that his conversion had freed him from the "yoke of slavery," which was the Mosaic Law that emphasized human achievement.

It is interesting to hear that even 2,000 years ago, some were persecuted and accused of watering down the truth. This is obvious today by the number of religions in the world. For a few centuries now, the attitude has been, “If you do not like a teaching of the Catholic Church, start another Church without that teaching.” And so we now have 30,000 different religions. The Bible does not lie when it says that God hates divorce [Mal. 2:16], that He condemns abortion as murder, that there is no place in Heaven for those who practice homosexuality, and the list goes on. Starting another religion that supports divorce, abortion and active homosexuality is not going to change the fact that the Word of God is unchanging. Those who change it, they shall be judged accordingly!

The same applies to politicians who have two faces. They tell the people what they want to hear so they will be elected. Once elected, they do what the party wants, not what the people wants, not what is right, nor what God teaches.

Paul emphasized that the Gospel that he preached was from Christ, such being a revelation he received on the road to Damascus.

Paul brought up the fact that prior to his conversion, he violently persecuted the Church of God in an effort to destroy it. His faith was in Judaism, the religion of his ancestors. And he was very zealous in promoting and defending his tradition. No Church of Christ was going to turn the people away from their Jewish belief.

That reminds me that 'by the sacrament of Confirmation, [we the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence [we] are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.'" [LG 11; Cf. OC, Introduction 2.] (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1285)

Paul continued, that while he was a zealous member of the Jewish faith, by the grace of the Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was revealed to him. God had set Paul apart so that he may proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul emphasized that since he had "seen the Lord" [1 Cor. 9:1], he was therefore an Apostle. When Paul connected his apostolic mission to the Gentiles, it was because of the revelation of Christ that he had received. It was not his decision; it was God’s decision. Paul continued by indicating that his basic insight into Christ did not come from the traditional center from which the "Word of the Lord" went forth to men. [Lk. 2:3; Lk. 24:48] He had gained Divine knowledge of God's purpose for the Church through supernatural means, not through human flesh and blood.

The point that Paul was making here was that his teachings were authentic Christians teachings that were personally taught to him by the Lord Jesus Christ. The teachings did not come from men. They did not come from the Apostles. They came directly from Jesus Christ Himself. As such, the Gospel of Christ must be accepted as being 100% pure and worthy of association.

Today’s Reading from the Gospel of Luke [Lk. 7:11-17] is a record of the event that took place in a village called Nain (modern Nein). This event concerned the raising of the widow’s son. Nain, not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, was located two to three hours by foot South-East of Nazareth and about eight to nine hours South-West of Capernaum.

The Evangelist Luke took special delight in portraying Jesus, not only overwhelmed with pity at the sight of tragedy, but also turning with kindly regard toward women. The dead boy was the mother's only son.

In this event, we have two crowds coming face to face. Jesus approached the town with His disciples and a large crowd. At the same time, the funeral procession, another large crowd, was leaving the village, going towards the graveyard that was just outside of the town.

Coming face to face with each other, Jesus could not avoid seeing the widow. This was one of those instances where you are at the right place at the right time. Jesus appeared clothed with the exalted power over life and death by which he became the object of his Church's faith and worship.

And so it was as we heard, Jesus told the young man to rise and he sat up. Then Jesus gave him to his mother. Imagine the shock of the two crowds that were present! In Jesus they perceived that a great prophet had risen among them. According to them, with this kind of a sign, it was clear that God had looked favorably upon His people!

It did not take long afterwards for the word to spread out all over that Jesus, the Prophet of God, had risen the widow's son.

What messages do we get from these readings?

For one thing, we should not be corrupting the teachings of Jesus Christ that were handed down to us through apostolic succession and Divine guidance.

Secondly, when something bad happens to us, it is not a punishment from God. Sometime we are to blame for our own misfortunes. At times mother nature is to blame. Mechanical failure has been known to cause endless accidents. Aging has its impact on the human body. And the list goes on. We live in a world of many seasons and beauties. At the same time, we know that this world is called to die. This world is just a stepping stone towards the next world, the eternal spiritual world that awaits the faithful.

Thirdly, having being confirmed in Christ, we are called to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. We are called to be missionaries in the world, not oversee, but locally. We are called to evangelize to our family, our neighbours, our friends, our co-workers, our community, all with who we come in contact, in words and actions. Words without actions are dead! Faith without works is dead!

And so my brothers and sisters in Christ, that is today’s message from God to us. We possess the truth, therefore, let us go forward and share it with others in the love of Jesus.

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 11 KGS 17:17-24

Elijah went to Zarephath of Sidon to the house of a widow.
The son of the mistress of the house fell sick,
and his sickness grew more severe until he stopped breathing.
So she said to Elijah,
“Why have you done this to me, O man of God?
Have you come to me to call attention to my guilt
and to kill my son?”
Elijah said to her, “Give me your son.”
Taking him from her lap, he carried the son to the upper room
where he was staying, and put him on his bed.
Elijah called out to the LORD:
“O LORD, my God,
will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying
by killing her son?”
Then he stretched himself out upon the child three times
and called out to the LORD:
“O LORD, my God,
let the life breath return to the body of this child.”
The LORD heard the prayer of Elijah;
the life breath returned to the child’s body and he revived.
Taking the child, Elijah brought him down into the house
from the upper room and gave him to his mother.
Elijah said to her, “See! Your son is alive.”
The woman replied to Elijah, 
“Now indeed I know that you are a man of God.
The word of the LORD comes truly from your mouth.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13

R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Reading 2GAL 1:11-14A, 15AC, 16A, 17, 19

I want you to know, brothers and sisters,
that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin.
For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it,
but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism,
how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure
and tried to destroy it, and progressed in Judaism
beyond many of my contemporaries among my race.
But when God, who from my mother’s womb had set me apart
was pleased to reveal his Son to me,
so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles,
I went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem
to talk with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days.
But I did not see any other of the Apostles,
only James the brother of the Lord.

AlleluiaLK 7:16

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

GospelLK 7:11-17

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, crying out
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst, “
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.

Homily for Today

Unto us it is given so we may blossom in Jesus! Good morning to everyone and welcome to our guests who have found their way to our humble...