Sunday, February 26, 2017

Homily


My friends, children of the Lord God, do not worry about tomorrow! [Pause].

During today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah, we heard, "Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.' Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you." [Is. 49:14-15] I emphasize these words, "I will not forget you" says the Lord God.

Here perhaps is the most touching expression of Divine love in the entire Bible. In God's few words, we learn of His Fatherhood. We have a heavenly Father. Not only is He our Creator, but He also wants to be our Father. While we struggle here on earth, awaiting the day when we will be united with the Heavenly Father, we are told in different words that God is watching over us. He has not forgotten us. If we think that He has forgotten us, it is all in our minds.

The second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 4:1-5] concerns the ministry of the Apostles. We heard the reader say, "Brothers and sisters: "Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy."

Two important words are found in this passage. They are the words "servants" and "stewards." In those days, the usage of these words implied an “assistant", a "helper.” This is the servant who was entrusted with the administration of the house. Paul places emphasis on the inferior position of the “manager” who administers his master’s property, and not his own.

The apostles of Christ’s are His assistants and “managers” of God’s mysteries, charged with preaching Divine revelation, and not their own doctrines. The first and indispensable quality demanded of a manager is trustworthiness, a conscientious devotion to his master’s interests.

Paul continued... “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.”

When Paul made reference to being judged by a human court, he was referring to any human judgment and criticism. The faithful have no right to pass judgment on the Lord’s manager. Only the Lord, not even the Apostles, can judge the faithfulness of his ministry. The Lord will make known His judgment when His presence is made known upon His return on the last day (parousia).

This Bible passage may explain why in the past, so many clergy members have remained silent regarding the sinful behaviour of a small number of priests who caused scandal in the Church. For decades, it was taught that no one should speak about the sinful behaviour of a fellow priest. God alone is the judge.

While some may have embraced that belief, it opposed other teachings that are found in the Holy Bible where it says, "If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive." [Luke 17:3] In similar words, we find in the Gospel of Matthew the following words, "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." [Mt. 18:15-17]

Furthermore, the Church teaches that if one remains silent regarding the sinful behaviour of another person, because of his silence, such a person is just as guilty of the sin as the one who committed it.

From these aforementioned passages, no matter our status, clergy member, religious or layperson, let us remember our obligation as Christians to rebuke those who sin. And let us not forget that in some country, criminal behaviours must be reported to the law.

The remaining of today's Gospel Reading [Mt. 6:24-34] has to do with serving two masters.

Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said, "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.” Disciples, followers of Christ, cannot have a divided loyalty.

In this reading, Jesus reminds the disciples that it is not good to possess wealth and ownership. Material possessions are a false god that demands exclusive loyalty, as God demands it. The claims of material possession must be completely renounced.

Jesus proceeds by saying, "Do not worry." "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

The meaning of the words "Do not worry" as spoken here mean not to be "overly concerned." Do not be "uneasy about what might happen." Avoid "anxious care." It may be worth noting that the word means more than simple thought or planning. Jesus refers to the kind of worry that leads to a divided loyalty and ultimately as an exclusive concentration on possession. He speaks of the basic need of food and clothing - the person is more important and deserves more attention than the external goods that sustain him.

If one places his trust in Divine Providence, he has no worries. But if he does not trust in God to provide for his future, then he begins to stockpile anything and everything which he believes will benefit him in the future. Such is a false sense of security. It is not the spiritual way to do things.

Jesus continued, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”

The example of the birds is proposed as the proper attitude that we should have towards food. This does not excuse one from earning his food; few men, work as hard for their living as the average sparrow. The audience to which these sayings were addressed was largely composed of peasants and laborers. And Jesus says nothing here or elsewhere that invites them to abandon their life of incessant grinding toil. It is not laziness that He is recommending. What He is recommending is that one’s anxiety should not exceed the labor that is required to secure subsistence. It is not the use of the necessities of life that is discouraged, but the accumulation of goods. Accumulation of goods does not prolong the life of the owner as much as a cubit (18-20 inches).

Continuing with the words of Jesus, “And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith?”

To teach the proper attitude that one should have towards clothing, Jesus alludes to the wild flowers, which bloom in profusion on Palestinian hills. These hills are a dull brown color most of the year. The example illustrates the observation of nature and the details of daily life that are typical of the Gospels. Yet this display of bright color, which is indeed an impressive sight, lasts only for a few weeks.

The raiments of Solomon, the proverbial example of wealth in the Bible, did not effectively endure much longer. To make the provision of food and clothing one’s major concern, an object of anxiety, is to live like the pagans who know no dedication except to the accumulation of the goods of this world. The disciples have a prior dedication, the reign of God. If the disciples seek this, God will provide the necessities of life to those who work for them.

This condemnation of one's accumulation of clothing can be compared to those who today, they have a large collection of shoes, dresses, suits, hats, coats, etc... [Pause]

Why does one need so much? [Pause]

Changing the subject, Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, "What will we eat?' or "What will we drink?' or "What will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today."

This verse emphasizes more clearly the principle that the disciples should not be accumulating goods. If savings becomes “accumulation,” it is still subject to the words of Jesus in the previous passages. “Sufficient for the day” are the key words to remember.

The pursuit of wealth has its ups and downs. Many of us try to keep up with the cultural expectations that come from success, security and the fulfillment that is found by pursuing wealth. Other try to keep up with family expectations or feel a need to compete against one or more persons to prove himself/herself more worthy or to receive public recognition. Doesn't the saying go, "The rich are famous." That is until they are broke... and then their friends disappear!

Today, Jesus reminds us who follow Him that we are more important than flowers, than the grass, than swallows. His promise to us is that He will take care of us even more than He does of the plants and birds.

This teaching of Jesus reminds us that we are called to a distinct way of life, not a worldly way but a spiritual way. We are called to trust in God who knows what we need and to believe that God will give it to us. Blessed is he who places his trust in the Lord Jesus!

This week my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray for each other, that we may receive the gift of faith that is necessary to trust in Divine Providence so we may not worry about tomorrow.

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1IS 49:14-15

Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me;
my LORD has forgotten me."
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Responsorial PsalmPS 62:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

R. (6a) Rest in God alone, my soul.
Only in God is my soul at rest;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed at all.
R. Rest in God alone, my soul.
Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.
R. Rest in God alone, my soul.
With God is my safety and my glory,
he is the rock of my strength; my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him.
R. Rest in God alone, my soul.

Reading 21 COR 4:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Now it is of course required of stewards
that they be found trustworthy.
It does not concern me in the least
that I be judged by you or any human tribunal;
I do not even pass judgment on myself;
I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
the one who judges me is the Lord.
Therefore do not make any judgment before the appointed time,
until the Lord comes,
for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts,
and then everyone will receive praise from God.

AlleluiaHB 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective;
discerning reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
"No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?'
or 'What are we to drink?'or 'What are we to wear?'
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil."

Prayers for this morning

Lord Jesus, free me from needless worries and help me to put my trust in you. May my first and only concern be for your glory and your kingdom of peace and righteousness. Help me to live each day and moment with trust and gratitude for your providential care for me

Once again, Lord, I come to you to pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that you are present and I want very much for you to instruct me through your teachings. In the same way, you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Homily


Today's First Reading from Chapter 19 of the Book of Leviticus teaches us that the spirit of charity makes it impossible for the spirits of enmity, revenge, and grudge bearing to dwell within us. Charity requires that fraternal correction be made when necessary.

If the spirits of enmity, revenge and grudge bearing dwell in us, then they coexists with the spirit of hatred towards others. If the spirit of hatred is within us, then we are living in sin. The First Reading reminds us not to incur sin through the spirit of hatred because of our behaviour towards one or more persons.

Today's Second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 3:16-23] reminds us of the division that dwelled in the Corinthian Church during the first century.

When Paul said, "Do you not know that you are God's Temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?", he was speaking of two Temples. First of all, the Corinthian community was a Temple of God, because the Divine Spirit dwelled in it. Secondly, the Holy Spirit dwelled in all those who had been baptised.

Now these two Temples, within the community and within each individual were being destroyed by division. Some of the Christians claimed to belong to Paul, others to Apollos. Who were Saint Paul and Apollos? They were nothing, merely human servants of the Church in the Name of Jesus Christ. In their vain and merely human appraisal of the ministers of the Gospel the Corinthians were displaying their foolishness, judging by the wisdom of the world. No Christian should glory in men, calling himself a disciple of any preacher, to the detriment of the unity of the Church. The ministers of the Gospel are for the faithful, not the faithful for them.

Paul made a very powerful statement when he said, "If anyone destroys God's Temple, God will destroy that person. For God's Temple is holy, and you are that Temple.

Nowadays, there are many who's actions are causing division in the Church. There is the division caused by the followers of Medjugorje who belittle those who do not believe in that alleged Marian apparition. After all, does the Church not teach that it is not necessary to believe in apparitions in order to be saved? Is it not through the Sacraments that we grow in Christ and in His Church, such faith leading to salvation?

Then there are those who reject doctrinal teachings of the Church on matters of abortion, birth control, the death penalty, same sex marriage, etc... They, some of them clergy members and religious sisters, claim there is nothing wrong with these beliefs, such causing confusion within the faithful and finally division. Remember, 'If anyone destroys God's Temple, God will destroy that person."

It is no wonder that Saint Paul said, "Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." These words come from the Old Testament where we read, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," [Job 5:12] and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." [Ps. 94:11]

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we belong to Christ, who in turn belongs to God. The Christian dominates the world and its happenings. Through faith and hope, he already shares in the triumph of the Lord.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Matthew has to do with retaliation versus loving one's enemy.

In the Old Testament, we read,

"If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." [Ex. 21:23-5] "Anyone who kills a human being shall be put to death. Anyone who kills an animal shall make restitution for it, life for life. Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; the injury inflicted is the injury to be suffered." [Lv. 24:17-20]

"Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." [Dt. 19:21.]

Making reference to these passages, Jesus said, you have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

The law of revenge was an ancient custom of the Near East that protected individuals by obliging the next of kin to avenge injury or murder or to purchase property to pay the debts of a kinsman.

Regarding Jesus' teachings, we take note,

First, regarding physical violence, it is not to be met with physical violence; it is to be suffered.

Secondly, regarding legal contention (arguments), the disciples are told not to meet legal action with legal action, but to yield what is contested and even beyond what is contested.

If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well. The garments mentioned are the tunic, a long shirt worn next to the body, and the cloak, a heavier outer garment that protected against cold and rain. These were normally the only two garments worn by the Palestinian peasant.

In Ex. 22:25-26 the creditor who takes the cloak in pledge is directed to return it at sundown so that the debtor may have covering for the night.

Thirdly, regarding forced labor or service, if anyone forced a slave or a worker to go one mile, that Christian was advised to go with them also the second mile. Today, we can compare that to your employer asking you to work a half hour longer because of a backlog of work that needs to be done. The Christian behaviour would oblige you to work an extra hour instead of a half hour to ensure that the needs of your employer are met.

Fourthly, on the matter of gifts and loans, do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. Obviously, that is if you have the money to lend. If you are truthfully broke, then you cannot lend money to the needy person.

It is difficult to see how the principle of non-resistance and yielding could be more clearly stated. The rationalizations of the words of Jesus do not show that his words are impractical or exaggerated, but simply that the Christian world has never been ready and is not ready now to live according to this spiritual ethic.

Quoting the last paragraph from today's Gospel Reading, it states, "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

The precept of love of one's neighbor is quoted from the Book of Leviticus where we read, "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." [Lv. 18:18]

My brothers and sisters, no one needs to be instructed to hate his enemies. But, we do need to be reminded to love our enemies.

The meaning of the word "neighbor" as found in the Book of Leviticus is a reference to one's group or fellowship: one's village or town, one's religion or nation, one's tribe or race. In many languages the same word is used to designate "stranger," "foreigner," or "enemy." The enemy is specified in the Gospel of Matthew as the persecutor, probably a reflection of the experience of the early Church.

The disciples were taught to show the same indifference to friends and enemies that God shows in his distribution of sunshine and rain; in exhibiting this godlike providence they vindicate their title of sons of God.

Love within one's group or fellowship is merely a natural and universal human trait. But by implementing this kind of love, a forgiving love, the disciples were being perfected as the heavenly Father is perfect.

Let us remember this week to "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Let us pray for each other that we may all have the strength to forgive our enemies so we may be perfected by the power of the Holy Spirit in the most Holy Name of Jesus for the glory of God the Father.

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1LV 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

"You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD."

Responsorial PsalmPS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Reading 21 COR 3:16-23

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Let no one deceive himself.
If any one among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:
God catches the wise in their own ruses, 
and again:
The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are vain.

So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, 
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

Alleluia1 JN 2:5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever keeps the word of Christ,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 5:38-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles. 
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Today's Prayers

Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart ablaze with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.

Lord, I wish to open my heart and let your Gospel message penetrate me and change my life. I believe that you love me and that you died for me; yet when tested by the demands of the Gospel, my faith and generosity waver. Nevertheless, once more I confess my faith in you and my determination to work to please you alone.

Lord Jesus, you are God. You came down from heaven to teach me how to love, but I have such a hard time loving those around me and even loving myself sometimes. By your almighty grace, help me to be more like you, to forgive and to give myself to others so that I can help make their lives just a bit happier.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Homily


When a pre-schooler touches something hot, he learns that it burns. If he climbs on a chair or up the stairs, he learns that he can fall down. Most children do fall and bump their little head. In child development, the child progressively learns by natural instinct how to use logic to ensure that his basic needs of life are met. Those needs consist of eating and drinking, sleeping when tired, dressing up or taking shelter to protect himself from the heat of the sun or the cold, seeking mom and dad's security, etc... The pre-schooler even learns to be safety minded by not trying to chase and catch in his hand those nice looking yellow bumble bees. It should be the other way around, the bee chasing him.

But what about when we become adults? Is our learning process completed? Many seem to think so! Being an adult, they consider themselves mature! But, are we really mature in the whole of our being according to the teachings of the Bible?

True maturity does not only consist of going through the phases of child development, getting a job and finally settling down with a family. That is worldly maturity. Today's readings speak of spiritual maturity that begins when the individual is spiritually enlightened by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity has to do with learning spiritual virtues that will benefit the holiness of the soul.

Today's First Reading tells us that the Lord God placed before us fire and water and He tells us to stretch out our hand to take which ever we choose. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are witnesses to each other that we have stretched out our hand and chosen water. But how many choose the second gift of God with joy, the fire?

The spiritually mature Christian knows what God meant by those words. Today's Second Reading refers to understanding God's wisdom, what is sacred and hidden, what God decreed before the ages for the glory of all. In Genesis 1:26, we read that God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness..." The last words were, "to our likeness", referring to God's characteristics. God decreed that His children would be in His likeness, having His Divine characteristics.

Now, consider Adam and Eve who were the perfect happy couple in the Garden of Eden before they sinned through their disobedience. Did they have all of God's characteristics or did they lack some of them? Did Adam and Eve have the ability to know what it meant to be cold or to be warm? Could they understand shame before they sinned? Could they understand the words forgiveness, mercy and compassion? Could they understand what it meant to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick and the prisoners? Did they understand what it meant to be angry or to be violent? Did they cry or understand sadness? Did they understand hardship from hard work? Did they know what it feels like to lose a loved one? Could Adam and Eve have practiced faith, hope and charity when there was no need for it because God was present among them and they already lived a life of perfect love?

It appears from the above list, one that is far from being complete, that while Adam and Eve were happy in many ways, they were deprived of many characteristics that would entitled them to be children of God in the likeness of God Himself.

If someone here knows how Adam or Eve, before the original sin, could have experienced shame, mercy, hardship, sadness, faith, hope and any of the characteristics that we have today because of sin, let him or her come up here and explain it to us! [PAUSE]

Religious truths teach us that while God did not will for sin to enter the world, He allowed it to happen as punishment. Religious truths also teach us that God can make good things come out of all things, including from evil things. While we have been cursed by sin and called to suffer physical death, we are blessed by the knowledge and spiritual growth that we gain through the outcome of sin.

The child who touched fire for the first time certainly became wiser. He will not touch the fire a second time because he does not want to get burned again. In a way, the child is blessed by God, knowing what fire feels like. Before the original sin, Adam and Eve could not have experienced the burning of fire. They could not have understood how the skin blisters from being burned. They could not have understood how fire destroys completely what it consumes such as during forest fires.

This spiritual understanding of today's first two Readings leads to the Third Reading. Jesus said that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The scribes were known to be a class of citizens who copied and explained the Laws of Moses. The Pharisees based their lives on the written law and thousands of detailed prescriptions handed down by verbal tradition. Both were so obsessed with the laws that they had lost the meaning of the purpose of the law, the necessity for flexibility, common sense and even the meaning of mercy. They lacked spiritual maturity. They were worldly in their ways. Their hearts were cold and darkened.

Jesus brought a message of love to the world. He taught us that love overcomes everything! Jesus overcame the world. [Jn. 16:33] He did not allow Himself to be overcomed by evil, but overcame evil by goodness. [Rom. 12:21] The one who overcomes the world is from God, [1 Jn. 4:4] being a child of God.

The Almighty Father is concerned for our salvation that is obtained through the spiritual growth of our soul, in the living of our faith in Jesus Christ. By His grace, we are given the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit to transform us into holy children.

To become holy children, we must reconcile with our brothers and sisters, first of all, being concerned with our spiritual maturity. It is not important what the others think because we have forgiven someone who was hurting us. What is important is that we have obeyed God's command to love one another.

Today's readings teaches us that in our lives, our work, in marriage and even in our social lives, we must seek out our spiritual maturity. We must open our spiritual minds to the Holy Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God, so we can know the will of God in all things. Knowing the will of God, we must be moved to act upon it, performing the acts of goodwill that the Holy Spirit inspires us to do.

We must stop looking at the hardships and sufferings of life as punishments from God. Rather, we must ask ourselves, "What does God want me to learn from this discipline?" "What virtue can I gain from this hardship or suffering?" Can I learn patience that Adam and Eve could not have learned? Can I learn compassion for others who have similar hardships? Can I learn not to be judgmental?

When we will have learned what God is trying to teach us, having been disciplined by the grace of a loving Heavenly Father and having been purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit, then my brothers and sisters, we will begin to shine as children of God in the likeness of God Himself.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1SIR 15:15-20

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man's every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

Responsorial PsalmPS 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

R. (1b) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
You have commanded that your precepts
be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
of keeping your statutes!
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Be good to your servant, that I may live
and keep your words.
Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Reading 21 COR 2:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him, 

this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

AlleluiaCF. MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 5:17-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,'
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, 'You fool,'
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

"You have heard that it was said, 
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

"It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife -  unless the marriage is unlawful - 
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

"Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God's throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.'
Anything more is from the evil one."

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...