Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homily for Today

Good morning my brothers and sisters in Christ. May the grace of the Lord be with all you so you may come to the knowledge and understanding of the richness that is found in today holy readings that are intended to feed our souls.

A few moments ago, we heard that Jesus said, "Whoever is not against us is for us." [Mk. 9:40] What does this Bible passage mean? Are we to understand that Jesus is saying that He is tolerant of those who minister in His Most Holy Name apart from His association? Are we to understand it today to mean that Jesus is tolerant of all the Christian Churches, that all religions are equal? Based on those who apply 'Sola Scriptura' in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, this is certainly the conclusion that they have drawn, consequently leading to thousands of divisions within the Christian community.

On September 5, 2000, the Vatican released a theological document called "Dominus Jesus." Its purpose was to correct Church theologians who were distorting the true meaning of the spirit of ecumenism. In that document, the Catholic Church rejected pluralism that implies that all religions are equal. To teach that one religion is as good as another one endangers the Church's missionary message that the fullness of salvation can only be found in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As some of you may have heard, that document created a worldwide reaction from a number of Christian denominations. At the same time, some of them admitted that this document proposed nothing new, that this had always been the position of the Holy Catholic Church. The difficulty that they had was that they had not heard the Vatican expressing it so openly since before Vatican II.

Today's First Reading from the Old Testament Book of Numbers [Numb. 11:16-17, 25-29] opens our eyes to the fact that the position of God's people in the days of the Old Testament was no different than today's position of the Vatican.

First of all, The Lord God told Moses, "Gather for me seventy of the elders of the people and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you do not bear it all by yourself." [Num. 11:16] Two thousand years ago, Jesus did the same thing to help Him with His ministry. He "appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go." [Lk. 10:1] From these Bible passages in the Old and New Testament, we come to the understanding that God's representative on earth should have a number of people under him to assist him in his ministry of leading the people. Following that example, today, His Holiness Pope John-Paul II has all the Bishops of the world who number in the thousands, they assisting him in the effective administration of the Body of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church.

Secondly, we heard in the First Reading that among the seventy who were registered, Eldad and Medad stayed behind in the camp and prophesied. When Joshua, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, saw this, he reported it to Moses. Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit in them." [Num. 11:29]

Now, what we perceive here is that two persons remained in the tent and they continued to do the work of the Lord. [Num. 11:26] The other sixty-eight, had left the tent, no longer prophesizing. [Num. 11:25]

In consideration that a lot of the events in the life of Moses foreshadowed the life of Jesus, let us review the similarities between the men who prophesied in the camp and the man who cast out demons in the Name of Jesus. Moses was chosen by God to free His people from slavery. Jesus was chosen by God to free His people from the slavery of sin. Joshua was one of Moses' chosen men. John was one of Jesus' chosen men. By the way, the name "Joshua" means "Saviour."

Two of those appointed by Moses, filled with the Holy Spirit, continued to prophesies. Can the same be said about the man who was casting out demons in the Name of Jesus? We have no choice but to come to that conclusion because:

First, how could the man cast out demons in the Name of Jesus if he did not know Jesus, had not heard of Him, had not heard His teachings, nor had seen the power of God manifested through Him? Surely, the man could not speak of Someone that he did not know! Nor could he do the work of Jesus if he had not heard the teachings of Jesus! Nor would he attempt to cast out demons on his own if he had not seen the power of God manifested through Jesus.

Secondly, how could the man cast out demons if he was not filled with the Holy Spirit. It is not everyone who can cast out demons. In Matthew 17:19, we read that some of the disciples of Jesus were unsuccessful in casting a demon out of a boy. In Acts 19:13-7, we read of the seven sons of a high priest named Sceva who tried to exorcised an evil spirit. They were overpowered by the evil spirit.

From this, it can be concluded that unless one lives by the teachings of Jesus, not some of them, but all of them, in the Spirit of Truth, he cannot do the work of the Lord Jesus, nor be of the Body of Christ. Jesus said, "Whoever is not against us is for us." These Sacred Words shine in perfect unity. There is no division. All are of the same faith.

When the two men prophesied, they did so for the people of God, not for the pagans in the surrounding nations. When the man casted out a demon in the name of Jesus, he did so according to the teachings of Jesus, not the teachings of the Jewish people or of those who adored idols. These men were in perfect unity with the Divine Will of God.

When the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church says that the fullness of salvation can only be obtained through the Mother Church that enjoys the fullness of revelation, it means exactly that!

How can one enter the Kingdom of God if he has not been baptized, consequently not having received the new creation that qualifies him as a member of the invisible Body of Christ?

How can one have salvation if he does not receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread, that gives life to the soul?

How can one obtain the forgiveness of sins if he rejects Jesus' command for the priests to forgive sins as the ministers of the Church?

How can one say that he belongs to the true Church when there is One Body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, One Lord, one faith, and one baptism. [Eph. 4:4-5]

How can one say that he belongs to the true Church when the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is the only Church that has been instituted by Jesus Christ> Is it not the only Church that has persisted for two thousand years in the purity of its teachings and traditions?

How can one claim to be the true Church when the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven have been given to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, that whatever it binds on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever he looses on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven?

The Catholic Church can be compared to a cake. Many religions possess a cake but only the Catholic Church has sweet icing on the cake. Without the Sacraments, there is no life that leads to salvation in a religion or a Church.

Today's readings emphasize the necessity to do the works of the Lord in order to remain filled with the Holy Spirit. The two men who prophesied were filled with the Holy Spirit. The man who casted out the demons was filled with the Holy Spirit.

During the Second Reading from The Letter of James, we heard that the rich people should weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to them. They spend their lives accumulating wealth. Every moment of the day, their minds are set on how they can make a dollar. Some are so obsessed with this worldly desire that they even dream of how to make money. The devil is leading them towards the path of golden coins, surely not towards the golden path of eternal life in the Kingdom of God and salvation.

When one becomes obsessed with money, he cuts corners. If he is a contractor, he will build with low grade material. If he is a retailer, he will pay minimum wages to his employees. If he is dishonest, he will cheat them of their wages. When he files his annual income tax, he will omit some of his revenues. Through these means, he grows in fame, luxury, human knowledge of investments and all the goodies that come with wealth. But in the end, he will have nothing!

Jesus said, "Whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward." What you do towards your fellowmen, you do towards Jesus.

"If your hand causes you to stumble, cut if off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell." We all know our human weaknesses and tendencies. Knowing them, by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus, we should apply our spiritual minds to overcome such weaknesses and tendencies. We should avoid what causes us to sin. We should run away from those opportunities that seek to destroy our souls.

I should remind all of you here of a sin that has become very popular among Catholics. It is the sin of being judgmental, such leading towards one's refusal to forgive those who have sinned, even those who have committed offenses against the Church and its members. The Holy Bible teaches us that we will be judged by the same measure that we judge others! That means if we cannot forgive those who have sinned, on Judgment Day, the Lord God shall not forgive us. It means that if we reject sinners from the Body of Christ on earth, the Lord God shall reject those souls from the eternal Body of Christ in Heaven. Considering the extent of the scandal in the Church today and the negative position of many Catholics, unless there is a drastic change, many of these Catholics shall be lost forever. We must ask ourselves, what would Jesus say to these sinners?

My brothers and sisters, we cannot serve two masters. We will love one more than the other!

This week, let us reflect upon our position towards the Lord Jesus and His Church that He has instituted on earth. Are we with Jesus our against Him? Are we with the teachings of Jesus that are found in the Holy Catholic Church or against them? If we seek with all our souls, our minds, our bodies and our strength to humbly serve and obey the Lord Jesus in the Body of Christ by shining as a light in the world, then we truly enjoy the hope that leads to eternal joy and peace in the Kingdom of God, such awaiting those who receive their salvation through Christ.

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1NM 11:25-29

The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses.
Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses,
the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders;
and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad,
were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp.
They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent;
yet the spirit came to rest on them also,
and they prophesied in the camp.
So, when a young man quickly told Moses,
"Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, "
Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’aide, said,
"Moses, my lord, stop them."
But Moses answered him,
"Are you jealous for my sake?
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"

Responsorial PsalmPS 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14

R. (9a) The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
Though your servant is careful of them,
very diligent in keeping them,
Yet who can detect failings?
Cleanse me from my unknown faults!
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant;
let it not rule over me.
Then shall I be blameless and innocent
of serious sin. 
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Reading 2JAS 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance.

AlleluiaCF. JN 17:17B, 17A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ, 
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

Prayers for Today

"Lord Jesus, free my heart from envy and jealousy, and every disordered thought and wrong desire, that I may always treat each person with respect and goodness for the glory of your name."

In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1IS 50:5-9A

The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let that man confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

Responsorial PsalmPS 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. (9) I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.
I love the LORD because he has heard
my voice in supplication,
Because he has inclined his ear to me
the day I called.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.
The cords of death encompassed me;
the snares of the netherworld seized upon me;
I fell into distress and sorrow,
And I called upon the name of the LORD,
“O LORD, save my life!”
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.
Gracious is the LORD and just;
yes, our God is merciful.
The LORD keeps the little ones;
I was brought low, and he saved me.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.
For he has freed my soul from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2JAS 2:14-18

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works? 
Can that faith save him? 
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ”
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it? 
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say,
“You have faith and I have works.” 
Demonstrate your faith to me without works,
and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

AlleluiaGAL 6:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord
through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. 
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?” 
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.” 
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?” 
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.” 
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days. 
He spoke this openly. 
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. 
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me. 
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1IS 35:4-7A

Thus says the LORD:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools, 
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

Responsorial PsalmPS 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.
The God of Jacob keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.
The fatherless and the widow the LORD sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2JAS 2:1-5

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality
as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes
comes into your assembly,
and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes
and say, “Sit here, please, ”
while you say to the poor one, “Stand there, ” or “Sit at my feet, ”
have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.
Did not God choose those who are poor in the world
to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
that he promised to those who love him?

AlleluiaCF. MT 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 7:31-37

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis. 
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd. 
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly. 
He ordered them not to tell anyone. 
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it. 
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well. 
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Prayers for Today

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with love and compassion. Make me attentive to the needs of others that I may show them kindness and care. Make me an instrument of your mercy and peace that I may help others find healing and wholeness in you."

Lord Jesus, I come to you once again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, my faith tells me that you are present. You are ready to listen and desire to speak with me. Your presence gives me hope, because you are the all-powerful God, the creator of heaven and earth. You are the source of all that is good in my life. Nothing happens to me without your knowing and permitting it. My hope leads me to love. I want to be one with you in mind and heart, identifying myself with your will and your standards.