Sunday, January 28, 2018

Homily for Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers and Reflection

Lord Jesus, your word is power and life. May I never doubt your love and mercy, and the power of your word that sets us free, and brings healing and restoration to body, mind, heart, and spirit.

 Oh, Holy One of God, what do you have to do with us?  We know that you have the words of eternal life and can command the evil one to depart. You have power over all evil and can conquer all sin. You are ready to do this because of your unconditional love for us, and I am ready to listen humbly to your word and respond, so that I may be healed and have life forever with you.

Reflection this week I share from Regnum Christi



1. His Way of Teaching: Jesus teaches with authority –– of course he does, because he is the Son of God! He is the one who has the words of eternal life. He has been at the Father’s side from all eternity. He has come to teach us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. So many voices in our world today can confuse us and make us doubt our faith. Can we not just listen with hearts of faith to the simple message that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

2. Jesus Is in Charge: Jesus commands the evil one, and he submits. The evil one fears Christ’s power. The evil one is silenced and chased out by a mere word from Christ. So often we worry and fear that sin and evil have a grip on us that we cannot break. We worry we cannot live up to what the Lord expects of us. Yet, his word makes that evil one flee immediately. He can do the same in our lives if we put our total trust in him.

3. The Evil I Cannot Overcome: What is the major evil or sin that I have not been able to expel? What is the primary fault or defect in my life? All my effort to improve has been blocked by this insidious power, greater than my virtue. I need to turn to Christ and put my trust in his word of life. I need to ask him to free me from that power which consumes me and holds me back from loving and giving myself to him and to others.

Conversation with Christ: Speak that word of life, Lord. Free me from the power of the evil one. Do not let him run my life or keep me from your love. Give me your grace and I will be satisfied.

Resolution: I will be bold and trust in the Lord’s power to help me overcome my faults and the power of the devil’s influence on my life.

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time


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Reading 1 Dt 18:15-20
 
Moses spoke to all the people, saying:
"A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kin;
to him you shall listen.
This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb
on the day of the assembly, when you said,
'Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God,
nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.'
And the LORD said to me, 'This was well said.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
and will put my words into his mouth;
he shall tell them all that I command him.
Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name,
I myself will make him answer for it.
But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name
an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak,
or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.'"

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

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

Reading 2 1 Cor 7:32-35

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

Alleluia Mt 4:16

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

Gospel Mk 1:21-28

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Silence at Mass

Found this article at Spiritual Direction about silence at mass. To many parishes do not have silence through the mass and it is frustrating some parishes I have gone to it is not bad enough that people have no idea as to how to dress especially in the summer with flip flops and short cut off raggy shorts but then they are busy texting through out mass have cell phones ringing or just plain talk during the mass. To me at least very annoying. Luckily the current parish I go to has none of this but sadly there is a lrge sign in the Narthax indicating how to dress for mass, turn cell phones off, no chewing gum etc. I say sadly because one would think that these were known facts when entering mass. Oh well maybe just me being an arm chair catholic or old fashioned? Either way enjoy the article and God Bless;

The Stillness and Silence of Mass

January 24, 2018 by  


stillness


When Holy Mass is properly celebrated there are moments in which the voices of both priest and faithful become silent. The priest continues to officiate as the rubrics indicate, speaking very softly or refraining from vocal prayer; the congregation follows in watchful, prayerful participation. What do these intervals of quiet signify? What must we do with them? What does stillness really imply?
It implies above all that speech end and silence prevail, that no other sounds — of movements, of turning pages, of coughing and throat-clearing — be audible. There is no need to exaggerate. Men live, and living things move; a forced outward conformity is no better than restlessness. Nevertheless, stillness is still, and it comes only if seriously desired. If we value it, it brings us joy; if not, discomfort. People are often heard to say: “But I can’t help coughing” or “I can’t kneel quietly”; yet once stirred by a concert or lecture they forget all about coughing and fidgeting. That stillness proper to the most beautiful things in existence dominates, a quiet area of attentiveness in which the beautiful and truly important reign. We must earnestly de­sire stillness and be willing to give something for it; then it will be ours. Once we have experienced it, we will be astounded that we were able to live without it.
Moreover, stillness must not be superficial, as it is when there is neither speaking nor squirming; our thoughts, our feelings, our hearts must also find repose. Then genuine stillness permeates us, spreading ever deeper through the seemingly plumbless world within.
Once we try to achieve such profound stillness, we realize that it cannot be accomplished all at once. The mere desire for it is not enough; we must practice it. The minutes before Holy Mass are best; but in order to have them for genuine preparation we must arrive early. They are not a time for gazing or for daydreaming or for un­necessary thumbing of pages, but for inwardly collecting and calming ourselves. It would be still better to begin on our way to church. After all, we are going to a sacred celebration. Why not let the way there be an exercise in composure, a kind of overture to what is to come? I would even suggest that preparation for holy stillness re­ally begins the day before. Liturgically, Saturday evening already belongs to the Sunday. If — for instance, after suitable reading — we were to collect ourselves for a brief period of composure, its effects the next day would be evident.
Thus far we have discussed stillness negatively: no speech, no sound. But it is much more than the absence of these, a mere gap, as it were, between words and sounds: stillness itself is something positive. Of course we must be able to appreciate it as such. There is sometimes a pause in the midst of a lecture or a service or some public function. Almost invariably someone promptly coughs or clears his throat. He is experiencing stillness as a breach in the unwinding road of speech and sound, which he attempts to fill with something, anything. For him the stillness was only a lacuna, a void that gave him a sense of disorder and discomfort. Actually, it is something rich and brimming.
Stillness is the tranquillity of the inner life, the quiet at the depths of its hidden stream. It is a collected, total presence, a being all there, receptive, alert, ready. There is nothing inert or oppressive about it.
Attentiveness — that is the clue to the stillness in question, the stillness before God.
What then is a church? It is, to be sure, a building having walls, pillars, space. But these express only part of the word church, its shell. When we say that Holy Mass is celebrated “in church,” we are including some­thing more: the congregation. Congregation, not merely people. Churchgoers arriving, sitting, or kneeling in pews are not necessarily a congregation; they can be simply a roomful of more or less pious individuals. Congregation is formed only when those individuals are present not only corporally but also spiritually, when they have contacted one another in prayer and step together into the spiritual “space” around them; strictly speaking, when they have first widened and heightened that space by prayer. Then true congregation comes into being, which, along with the building that is its architectural expression, forms the vital church in which the sacred act is accomplished.
All this takes place only in stillness; out of stillness grows the real sanctuary. It is important to understand this. Church buildings may be lost or destroyed; then everything de­pends on whether the faithful are capable of forming con­gregations that erect indestructible “churches” wherever they happen to find themselves, no matter how poor or dreary their quarters. We must learn and practice the art of constructing spiritual cathedrals.
We cannot take stillness too seriously. Not for noth­ing do these reflections on the Liturgy open with it. If someone were to ask me what the liturgical life begins with, I should answer: with learning stillness. Without it, everything remains superficial, vain. Our understand­ing of stillness is nothing strange or aesthetic. Were we to approach stillness on the level of aesthetics — of mere withdrawal into the ego — we should spoil everything. What we are striving for is something very grave, very important, and unfortunately sorely neglected: the pre­requisite of the liturgical holy act.
Silence and the Word
We have discussed stillness in the presence of God. Only in such stillness, it was contended, can the congregation fundamental to the sacred ritual come into being. Only in stillness can the room in which Holy Mass is celebrated be exalted into a church. Hence the beginning of divine service is the creation of stillness. Stillness is intimately related to speech and the word.
The word is a thing of mystery, so volatile that it van­ishes almost on the lip, yet so powerful that it decides fates and determines the meaning of existence. A frail structure shaped by fleeting sound, it yet contains the eternal: truth. Words come from within, rising as sounds fashioned by the organs of a man’s body, as expressions of his heart and spirit. He utters them, yet he does not create them, for they already existed independently of him. One word is related to another; together they form the great unity of language, that empire of truth-forms in which a man lives.
The living word arranges itself onion-like in various layers. The outermost is that of simple communication: news or a command. These can be conveyed artificially, as they often are, by the printed word or by some sound-apparatus that reproduces human speech. The syllables thus produced draw their significance from genuine lan­guage, and they answer specific needs well enough. But this superficial, often mechanical, level of words is not yet true speech, which exists only in proportion to the amount of inner conviction carried over from the speaker to that which is spoken. The more clearly his meaning is embodied in intelligible sounds, and the more fully his heart is able to express itself, the more truly does his speech become living word.
The inmost spirit lives by truth, by its recognition of what is and what has value. Man expresses this truth in words. The more fully he recognizes it, the better his speech and the richer his words. But truth can be recog­nized only from silence. The constant talker will never, or at least rarely, grasp truth. Of course even he must ex­perience some truths; otherwise he could not exist. He does notice certain facts, observe certain relations, draw conclusions and make plans. But he does not yet possess genuine truth, which comes into being only when the essence of an object, the significance of a relation, and what is valid and eternal in this world reveal themselves. This requires the spaciousness, freedom, and pure recep­tiveness of that inner “clean-swept room” which silence alone can create. The constant talker knows no such room within himself; hence he cannot know truth. Truth, and consequently the reality of speech, depends upon the speaker’s ability to speak and to be silent in turn.
But what of fervor, which lives on emotion and emotion’s evaluation of the costliness and significance of things? Doesn’t fervor flow more abundantly into speech the more immediate the experience behind it? And doesn’t that immediacy remain greatest the less one stops to think? That is true, at least for the moment. But it is also true that the person who talks constantly grows empty, and his emptiness is not only momentary. Feelings that are always promptly poured out in words are soon exhausted. The heart incapable of storing anything, of withdrawing into itself, cannot thrive. Like a field that must constantly produce, it is soon impoverished.
Only the word that emerges from silence is substan­tial and powerful. To be effective it must first find its way into open speech, although this is not necessary for some truths: those inexpressible depths of comprehension of one’s self, of others, and of God. For these the experi­enced but unspoken suffices. For all others, however, the interior word must become exterior. Just as there exists a perverted variety of speech — talk — there exists also a perverted silence — dumbness. Dumbness is just as bad as garrulity. It occurs when silence, sealed in the dungeon of a heart that has no outlet, becomes cramped and oppressive. The word breaks open the stronghold. It carries light into the darkness and frees what has been held captive.
Speech enables a man to account for himself and the world and to overcome both. It indicates his place among others and in history. It liberates. Silence and speech belong together. The one presupposes the other. Together they form a unit in which the vital man exists, and the discovery of that unit’s namelessness is strangely beautiful. We do know this: man’s essence is enclosed in the sphere of silence/speech just as the whole earthly life is enclosed in that of light/darkness, day/night.
Consequently, even for the sake of speech we must practice silence. To a large extent the Liturgy consists of words that we address to and receive from God. They must not degenerate into mere talk, which is the fate of all words, even the profoundest and holiest, when they are spoken improperly. In the words of the Liturgy, the truth of God and of redeemed man is meant to blaze. In them the heart of Christ — in whom the Father’s love lives — and the hearts of His followers must find their full expression. Through the liturgical word our inwardness passes over into the realm of sacred openness which the congregation and its mystery create before God. Even God’s holy mystery — which was entrusted by Christ to His followers when He said, “As often as you shall do these things, in memory of me shall you do them” — is renewed through the medium of human words.
All this, then, must find room in the words of the Liturgy. They must be broad and calm and full of inner knowledge, which they are only when they spring from silence. The importance of silence for the sacred celebration cannot be overstressed — silence which prepares for it as well as that silence which establishes itself again and again during the ceremony. Silence opens the inner fount from which the word rises.

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This article is from a chapter in Meditations Before Mass by Fr. Romano Guardini which is available from Sophia Institute Press

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

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Reading 1 Acts 22:3-16 
 
Paul addressed the people in these words:
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.

"On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'
I replied, 'Who are you, sir?'
And he said to me,
'I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.'
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, 'What shall I do, sir?'
The Lord answered me, 'Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.'
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

"A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
'Saul, my brother, regain your sight.'
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
'The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.'"

or

Acts 9:1-22


Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
He said, "Who are you, sir?"
The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, AAnanias."
He answered, "Here I am, Lord."
The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul.
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight."
But Ananias replied,
"Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name."
But the Lord said to him,
"Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name."
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
"Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.
All who heard him were astounded and said,
"Is not this the man who in Jerusalem
ravaged those who call upon this name,
and came here expressly to take them back in chains
to the chief priests?"
But Saul grew all the stronger
and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus,
proving that this is the Christ.

Responsorial Psalm PS 117:1bc, 2

R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia See Jn 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
To go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 16:15-18

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

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Homily

Follow me and I will make you fishers of men! Welcome my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus to today's celebration of the Holy Mass. It is always a joy to be united with you in this great Feast which we are about to partake in.

During today's First Reading from the Book of Jonah, [Jon. 31-5, 10] we heard how Jonah answered God's calling. Jonah was called by God and told to get up and to go to Nineveh, that great city, where he was to proclaim the message of the Lord.

In obedience to the Lord God, Jonah set out and went to Nineveh. He proclaimed the Divine Word of God, advising the sinful people that unless they repent of their sins, in forty days, their city would be overthrown. Fearing the wrath of God, the people realized that they had sinned against Him. Immediately, they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, from the greatest to the least important, put on sackcloths. A sackcloth is a coarse cloth worn as a symbol of mourning or penitence. It is not something very comfortable to wear. But, it serves its purpose of making a sacrifice for the grace of God to be dispensed upon the sincere heart that applies this method of repentance alongside with a fast.

As we all heard, the people turned away from their evil ways. Consequently, God changed His mind about the calamity that He was about to send to Nineveh. Through Jonah, the faithful servant of the Lord, the people were once more united in the righteous ways of the Lord God.

Reviewing the Second Reading from the First Letters to the Corinthians, [1 Cor. 7:29-31] to some, this Reading may have been rather difficult to understand. Paul told those who have wives to act as if they have none, those who mourn as though they were not mourning, those who rejoice as if they were not rejoicing, those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world, as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world was passing away.

To understand this passage that refers to one's calling to live a spiritual life, it is necessary to review other parts of the First Letter to the Corinthians. It is necessary to ask ourselves, what was Paul talking about? We find that answer in 1 Corinthians 10:11 where Paul told the Corinthians that Christians are already living in the last days, on whom the ends of the ages had come. There are no other coming ages.

Contrary to what some of our separated brothers and sisters believe and preach, there is no coming of a glorious age. There is no coming of a worldly Kingdom of God or a thousand years of peace when Jesus will reign on earth as King in a physical body. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom. It is invisible and it is already among us today.

The final age began with the glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, believers are united into the Risen Lord. [Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12-3] Through one's living faith in the hope of things to come, believers are already in the future. They have passed beyond the desires of fame, pleasures and wealth, having fixed their eyes on Jesus in Heaven. They patiently awaiting the glorious moment when their own bodies will be resurrected in the glory of the Lord Jesus. [Gal. 1:20; Rom. 8:9-11, 23; Eph. 1:19]

When we received the precious gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit during the Sacrament of Baptism, we received our "first instalment" towards the guarantee of the full inheritance that awaits the faithful Christians. [Eph. 1:13-4; 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5]

When the glorious resurrection of the bodies is fulfilled, there will be no more competition, no more worldly needs, no fame, no desires, no wealth. We will all find the fullness of our happiness in the love of Christ.

Those who are detached from the world, they already have a foot in Heaven. While they are in this world, they are not of this world. The religious who consecrate their lives to the Lord, through their virginity, they join the baptized who are part of the life to come in the resurrection of the saints. Their virginity places them in the future to come.

Those who are married, because of the responsibilities that come with the married life, both spouses being placed in the affairs of the world which is passing away, those responsibilities become an obstacle to their precious spiritual growth and communion with the Lord.

The celibate person, the virgin, they are free of family responsibilities. Through their intended perfect consecration to God in body and spirit, they have the opportunity to immediately taste the life of glory that all Christians anticipates. [1 Cor. 7:32-4]

During today's Reading of the Gospel of Mark, [Mk. 1:14-20] we heard Jesus calling the Apostles to be, Simon, Andrew, James, the son of Zebedee and his brother John. Each and everyone of them left what they were doing to answer the calling of Jesus to a life of self-denial and ongoing sacrifices. By answering their calling, they became faithful servants of the Lord, their names going down in history so we may remember and model after their example, their living faith in Christ.

Jesus said, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." Fishers of men are ambassadors of Christ. They represent Christ. Christians, through their Baptism, they are called to be lights in the world. They are those who are called to go forward and to evangelize to the world as Jonah obeyed, as Paul obeyed, as all the disciples of the Lord Jesus obeyed, some even to death. They are called to evangelize, first to their family members, then their friends, their co-workers, the strangers, all of those with who they come in contact during their lives, all for the glory of God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we all have a calling to answer. Some are called to the Sacrament of Holy Orders or or religious life. Some are called to the Sacrament of Marriage. Some are called to live a life of celibacy. Even the teenagers and children have a calling in their youthful days. While the calling of each may vary according to their status in life, the needs to serve the Holy Church are many. Jesus calls some to preach, some to be lectors, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, altar servers, choir members, members of parish committees, members of the Catholic Woman's League or the Knights of Columbus, ministers to the home bound, and the list goes on and on. There is a place for everybody in the Body of Christ.

Each members of the Body of Christ is as a living stone that belongs to a great Temple, the House of God. If we remove some of the stones from the structure, it will begin to fall. Equally, if all the members of the Body of Christ, of the Parish, do not become actively involved in the ministry of the Church, the Parish will suffer. The Church cannot flourish by itself. It needs people! It needs you!

To lead His Church by the grace of the Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus chose men and women who are weak human beings. He did not choose angels. Had He done so, we would have angels ministering to us. Having chosen weak human beings, it is to be expected that no one is perfect in their calling. All have to learn as they grow in Christ. Remember Peter, did he not deny knowing Jesus three times when his life was threatened? Where were the disciples of Jesus when He was arrested? They all ran away! But that is the kind of people that Jesus chose in His Divine Wisdom.

Knowing this, there is a necessity for the members of the Church to pray for each other that all may be receptive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in His ministry to promote the growth of the Church from generation after generation. As your Bishop and priests need prayers so they may be good leaders, so do your brothers and sisters in Christ. Prayer is not a one way thing. Jesus wants us all to be united as one in His Body. We must pray for one another if we sincerely desire to overcome the power of Satan that always seeks to destroy the Church by destroying its members.

As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, preparing ourselves to participate in the great Feast of the Holy Eucharist in the Presence of the Lord Jesus, let each and everyone of us ask the Lord Jesus to bless our Parish with an abundance of active holy members to do His holy work. Let us ask Jesus to strengthen us in our works so that we may shine as true lights in the world, showing patience where it is needed, love where there is hatred, kindness where it is the least expected. And finally, let each and everyone of us pray for those who have fallen to sin, that they may once more rise and take their place as fruitful and obedient servants of the Lord Jesus in the Body of Christ.

Prayer and Reflection

Lord Jesus, you have called me personally by name, just as you called your first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Help me to believe your word and follow you faithfully. Fill me with the joy of the gospel that your light may shine through me to many others.

 Lord, I adore you. You alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in the Glory of God the Father. Lord, I love you and wish to know you more intimately, since you are goodness and mercy itself.

 Jesus, I want to follow you more closely. Help me to know you as you are so that I can love you as you deserve to be loved. Eternal Father, grant me the fullness of your grace, which consumes all weakness, so that my heart will be lifted up with an indescribable enthusiasm to embrace my cross and follow faithfully in the footsteps of your Son.




What is the gospel of God that Jesus came to preach?
What is the Gospel of God which Jesus came to preach? The word "gospel" literally means "good news". When a king had good news to deliver to his subjects he sent messengers or heralds throughout the land to make a public announcement - such as the birth of a newborn king or the victory over an invading army or occupied force. God sent his prophets to announce the coming of God's anointed King and Messiah. After Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and anointed by the Spirit he begins his ministry of preaching the Gospel - the good news that the kingdom of God was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.
God rules over all
What is the kingdom of God? The word "kingdom" means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means "sovereignty" or "reign" and the power to "rule" and exercise authority. The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. The Scriptures tell us that God's throne is in heaven and his rule is over all (Psalm 103:19). His kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor (Psalm 145:11-13).
In the Book of Daniel we are told that this kingdom is given to the Son of Man (Daniel 7:14,18,22,27). The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God's anointed King. The New Testament word for "Messiah" is "Christ" which literally means the "Anointed One" or the "Anointed King". God sent us his Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into his heavenly kingdom - a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus' mission. It's the core of his gospel message.
As soon as John the Baptist had finished his testimony, Jesus began his in Galilee, his home district. John's enemies had sought to silence him, but the gospel cannot be silenced. Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus takes up John's message of repentance and calls disciples to believe in the gospel - the good news he has come to deliver. What is the good news which Jesus delivers? It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God - Ephesians 6:15), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life - Colossians 1:23), of truth (God's word is true and reliable - Colossians 1:5), of promise (he rewards those who seek him - Ephesians 3:6)), of immortality (God gives everlasting life - 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God - Ephesians 1:13).
Two conditions for the kingdom - repent and believe
How do we enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do to in order to receive the kingdom of God: repent and believe. When we submit to Christ's rule in our lives and believe the gospel message the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of his kingdom. He gives us grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by sin and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31). That is why repentance is the first step.
Repentance means to change - to change my way of thinking, my attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of my heart rather than sin, selfishness, and greed. If we are only sorry for the consequences of our sins, we will very likely keep repeating the sin that is mastering us. True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us grace to see sin for what it really is - a rejection of his love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with his will. His grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from his love and truth.
To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with himself. He is our Father and he wants us to live as his sons and daughters. God loved us first and he invites us in love to surrender our lives to him. Do you believe that the gospel -the good news of Jesus - has power to free you from bondage to sin and fear?
Like fishermen - we are called to gather in people for the kingdom of Christ
When Jesus preached the gospel message he called others to follow as his disciples and he gave them a mission - "to catch people for the kingdom of God." What kind of disciples did he choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles we see a characteristic feature of Jesus' work: he chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power.
When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Do you believe that God wants to work in and through you for his glory?
Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will "catch people" for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel. Paul the Apostles says, But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15). Do you witness to those around you the joy of the Gospel and do you pray for your neighbors, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of his love?

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time


Image result for third sunday in ordinary time 2018

Reading 1 Jon 3:1-5, 10
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying:
"Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you."
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD'S bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day's walk announcing,
"Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, "
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

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

R. (4a) Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice
and teaches the humble his way.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Reading 11 1 Cor 7:29-31

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

Alleluia Mk 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 1:14-20

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

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.

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