Sunday, November 5, 2017

To not know and understand God as a Father who cares for us intimately and not to invoke Him for His help is to become orphans without hope.

Matthew 23; 1-12Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. November 5th, 2017

One of the lines in the Gospel today is used by Bible Fundamentalist to try and prove the Catholic Church is “unbiblical.” “Call no man on earth thy Father, for thou hast only one Father, who art in Heaven.” Sadly, many of these folks are ex-Catholics. But I would argue, Ex-Catholics who left a Church and her teachings that they never really knew, even though they may think they know them. But this passage nevertheless does seem to support a “anti Catholic” position on the part of many Christians.

For if the bible said what it says, how can we as Catholics, call the priest, “Father?” Before we take closer look at this verse, its important to state a very important rule when reading, praying and studying the Bible--Sacred Scripture, and that is, you can’t take a few verses out of the bible without looking at the whole. Our fundamentalist bible friends may seem to know the bible, but what they usually know is just a handful of verses taken out of context, and mostly of which seemed to go against the Catholic Church. Anyone can, in fact, make the bible say anything that want when it is read it apart from the Catholic Church from whence it came.

A good question to ask those who use this verse in a decidedly anti-Catholic way is, “Don’t you call the man who is the biological source of your being, dad. Isn’t that the same thing as “Father.”? Or don’t you call the person at school who helps you to learn, “teacher,” for Jesus also said, “Call no man on earth your teacher.” So obviously, Jesus did not and could not mean that you could not call someone on earth your father or your teacher. And as a matter of fact, we hear St. Paul in 1st Corinthians 4:14-16. St. Paul writing to the Christians in Corinth, addresses them as “my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then to be imitators of me.” Does this mean that St. Paul sinned by claiming to be a “Father in Christ?” Of course not, because St. Paul himself was a Catholic Priest, in fact, a bishop. And as such, he, Father Paul, was actually the origin of their spiritual childhood. In other words, when Bishop Paul preached the Gospel and baptized them, he literally became their spiritual father, a father in a greater and deeper sense than their own biological fathers—for he is the source of their eternal life, the way they were birthed into eternal life.

This leads us to the deeper meaning of this Gospel text and others like it. Matthew uses the word Father to describe God 44 times, and St John uses it 115 times. Jesus is really reminding those present when he spoke these words of today’s Gospel that God the Father is the source and origin of all fatherhood. All fatherhood and all authority have their source in God the father, just as all of life has its source in Him. Consequently, all true fatherhood and all true authority must keep God the Father as its origin and guide or it becomes corrupted. Authentic Fatherhood comes from God, who the Son revealed as, “Our Father.”

Jesus tells this to the people because the Pharisees lived a life of false piety, meaning that they lived piety on the outside but not on the inside, on the inside their hearts were far, far from God. They were full of pride, they were rich, that is, self-sufficient. In other words, they were full of themselves, not humble before the Lord—Consequently, They did not know the Father! Consequently, they didn’t realize that their spiritual fatherhood and authority over the people, both to rule and to teach, stemmed from God the Father.

So much could be learned from these words of Jesus, which are also addressed to the world today, which is really in a crisis of “Fatherhood.” They (Jesus’ words that is) speak of the interior life, that we must be connected to the God the Father not only by appearances or in name, but we must be united to Him on the inside, our hearts must be converted to Him in and through Christ Jesus.

And so, through today’s Scripture passage, Jesus speaks to all Christians today and warns us about being hypocritical. He warns us that to be Christian means more than just being born into a faith or claiming the name, but that the inward person must be more and more deeply renewed and converted to God, God who is not only a father, but THE FATHER. A faithful child of God the Father must struggle to carry out in heart, mind and deeds what he says and claims to be. And a faithful child of God must humbly realize that the source of their divine filiation, that is their divine childhood, has it source and origin in the source of all paternity--God the Father.

While God enjoys the fullness of Paternity, earthly fathers can too participate in this Paternity when they are open and contribute to new life. Similarly, the Church teaches us that all of those who foster the true faith through baptism and preaching should also been seen as parents in faith. Anyone who helps to foster true faith and love of God, by words and most especially in deed (i.e. love of neighbor) can participate in this paternity, by begetting others in the faith. However, one can only participate in this divine paternity of God to the degree that they have allowed themselves to be converted to the love of God the Father through Christ Jesus His Son.

In a world where half of the child born today have a chance of not having a father at home by the time the reach their 18th birthday, we are truly in a crisis of fatherhood. It is hard to know God our Father if we do not know an earthly father. And earthly fathers will only be as successful in fathering their children to the decree they have allowed themselves by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be converted to Christ Jesus who reveals to us the Heavenly Father. Bad fathers will give children a wrong notion of the Fatherhood of God. If a father tells his child to forgive others, does him himself forgive? If he tells a child not to steal or to lie, does he himself steal or lie? If he tells his child to be kind is he himself kind to others. And if he tells the child to love God, does he himself love God with his whole heart, soul and mind. The same goes for mothers, of course.

Just as earthly fathers can only give what they have, spiritual parents can only give to others what they themselves have received, they can only give what they themselves live—this goes as well for us spiritual Fathers—us priests. Words only or piety only, cannot do it today any more than they could for the Pharisees. Our hearts must be converted on the inside, if our words are going to have any effect they must be followed by deeds flowing from a true conversion to the truth of Jesus Christ and taught by His Church, through our spiritual fathers in Christ, the pope, bishops and priests.

We all must grow in our faith and realization that God is truly our Father and we are truly His children. A small child totally trusts his father. He follows him around all day and constantly asks him for his help. A child lets nothing keep him from his father, not even his mistakes. We too must trust our Father God like this—we must be as a child. We must humbly follow Our Father around all day long. And when we make mistakes, namely sins, we must immediately without hesitation run into the Father’s arms and there in the confessional, tell Him the truth about what we have done-no excuses, and that we are truly sorry and that we will try to do better with His help of course.

To not know and understand God as a Father who cares for us intimately and not to invoke Him for His help is to become orphans without hope. Denial of the Fatherhood of God is to create a culture of death. It is by the Fatherhood of God that all fathers and all families, biological and spiritual are understood. Even if we have been hurt by fathers, biological or spiritual, we must seek to forgive them and know that Our Father in heaven is not like that, He loves us even when no one else does-He is ever faithful.

Let us turn to the intercession of St. Joseph to help us. He is the perfect example of earthly fatherhood for all fathers and those in authority. HE was the humble servant, who used his authority and father in service to others. He will help lead us to Jesus, asleep in his arms. Jesus lead Joseph to perfect union with the Heavenly Father, hence he could be a father to Jesus and an example and source of help to all Christians who are called to share in the paternity of God the Father by leading others to Him, thus begetting spiritual child in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

“Render to God the things of God…” and the human person belongs to God!

Matthew 22; 15-21. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 22nd, 2017

Today’s Gospel brings out the darkness of the hearts of those who opposed Jesus intrusion into their lives—they were religious in only appearance, but in their hearts they sought to live a life far apart from God—they refused to give to God what belong to Him, namely their lives, their hearts, their everything in joyful thanksgiving and adoration.

And so, these so-called religious folks try to trap Jesus in catch 22. They pose a very clever question. If Jesus would answer “that the tax should be paid, they would accuse Him to the people of collaborating with the Romans. Because the people saw paying taxes as nothing less than financing Rome’s continual domination of the nation of Israel, the people would then turn against Jesus and no longer follow Him. If Jesus would answer not to pay the taxes, then the ill willed Herodians would have grounds to turn Jesus over to the Romans for His opposition to the state, for his, “Trying to stir up rebellion among the people.”

For His part, Jesus however, gives His enemies a very clever and profound response, a response which goes far beyond their twisted expectations. He doesn’t just give them a yes or no answer; He gives them the true perspective and so thwarts their cunning words—“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. In other words, Jesus teaches them and us the correct relationship between the Church and the state, and of our obligation to support both the Church and the state, but in proper order.

We are to give to the state what is due to it…namely, the payment of legitimate taxes necessary for legitimate state expenses; and obedience to just laws (and the key word here is “just”)…but nothing more, for we are to also, and first and foremost, to give to God what belongs to God. Jesus thus puts back into order what was out of order. First and foremost, Jesus taught the Herodians and all those who were listening, that God is always first.

Jesus teaches us as well then, that the state does not enjoy absolute power and dominion. Yes, it has its own dominion; however, the rights of the state cannot usurp the rights of God and the rights of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. God has revealed what is right and wrong; the government is called to uphold this order. The laws of the state should not contradict the Laws of God: the principles of God should guide the laws of state. By the way, the political debate should be the means, the method, we use to ensure God’s law is respected. And this is why we are obliged, even from the pulpit, to oppose unjust laws-laws which go against the common good of all (yes, politics from the pulpit).

Christians do indeed have a duty to give to the state whatever material and personal services they can in order to support the common good. But the state then has the corresponding responsibility to enact laws and govern with the greatest respect for the common good of all people including, and most especially, the most vulnerable of society. This includes the protection of human life from the moment of conception, the defense of the family and consequently the protection of marriage between one man and one woman, the protection of religious liberty, the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children, along with their right to provide for their children, including: receiving a just wage; to keep what they earn from their labors-and so, just taxes; along with the right to private ownership of land, privacy and the right to protect their family even with arms.

So, while we must support the state so it can fulfill its earthly natural purpose or end, which is domestic peace and harmony, Jesus also points out our higher obligation to support the Church so that it may carry out its supernatural purpose or end: which is to bring about eternal peace and harmony-better known as the Kingdom of God. One aspect of this support of the Church is that Christ’s faithful have the obligation to provide for the temporal needs of the Church, so that the Church has available to It, those things which are necessary for the prescribed Divine Worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the worthy support of priests.

However, this duty goes far beyond just the gift of treasure or tax to the support of Christ’s Church. We must always remember that the collection at the offertory is meant to represent the offering of ourselves to the Father in union with Christ’s Sacrifice on the Altar. This is why the priest says, “Pray brethren that our sacrifice, mine and yours, may be acceptable to God our Father.” We are not asking the Father to accept the Sacrifice of the Mass, that is Jesus’ sacrifice, of course that’s acceptable. We are asking Him to accept our individual sacrifice, not just our money but more importantly what the gift of our money should stand for, that is, the gift of ourselves, all that we have and are, especially our will.

This brings up what Christ does not mean by this verse, “give to Caesar what belong to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Christ doesn’t, does not, mean that we relegate our service to God, that is our faith only to the private sphere. Christ did not intend to relegate religion to a private affair only carried out in the temple, but not in daily life in the world, as if the world could somehow develop apart from God’s law and Christian law and morality. Of course, that is an illusion; the world trying to go along without God’s law is doomed to failure and collapse—God is God, he pervades the entire world—it is His and He gave us organized religion.

Every Christian, each one of us is called and challenged to be light and salt in the middle of the world. We are called to be witnesses. We are all called to go live our mission…Ite missa est!!! Go live your mission, take what you have received in the Holy Eucharist, namely Jesus, and through Him, with Him and in Him, transform the world in which you live and work. We are, each one of us called to transform the world and all men by our holiness of life, thus making the world more humane, more human.

We are called to live as children of God in the halls of our schools, of our governments, our jobs as well as in the living rooms of our friends. We truly do have the answer for our modern age’s terrible moral and religious void and consequently its spiritual darkness. We are the ones called to transform the world we live in, to stand up in defense of human life from its conception, and the marriage between man and women in which every child has a right to be conceived, to speak out against experimentation on human life, poverty or anything else which degrades the human person… “Render to God the things of God…” and the human person belongs to God.

The Lord is the life of every human person from the moment of conception. The Lord sanctified family life in Nazareth and later taught us to respect the sanctity of marriage, its indissolubility and it continual openness to life. Jesus brought the light of these truths to the people of His time even though many did not want to hear them, and now He expects us to bring them to the people of our time even though many don’t want to hear them and may oppose us and even persecute us.

We Christians have so much to give for the good of our society. But we must ourselves believe more firmly and show others more clearly that the teachings of God and His Holy Catholic Church are not an obstacle to human welfare or scientific progress. They are rather a sure guide for the realization of those worthy goals. We Christians must be absolutely convinced that we have a most precious and necessary light to offer amidst so much darkness-the only Light that can penetrate the darkness, Jesus Christ the Light of the World.

Let us with the help of the blessed Virgin Mary mother of all nations, give unto God what belongs to God, our entire life and everything in it, for His honor and glory and for the sanctification and salvation of souls, let us trustingly offer our lives on this sacred altar, for we are His and to Him we belong and are called to return. Amen.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The wedding imagery that is used in the parable Jesus told in the Gospel today, is found throughout the Holy Scriptures.

Matthew 22;1-10. Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 15th, 2017

The wedding imagery that is used in the parable Jesus told in the Gospel today, is found throughout the Holy Scriptures. The wedding “language” when used, is always meant to point out to us, in familiar terms, the intimacy of our Heavenly Father’s call to salvation in and through Jesus Christ. This call to eternal Salvation and happiness in His Heavenly Kingdom (which subsist fully in the Catholic Church) extends to every single person on the face of the earth. It is God Himself, who always initiates this call. While God extends salvation to all, although as is apparent from today’s parable, sadly not all will accept this invitation.

Last Sunday’s Gospel points out that God had prepared His vineyard, which was the House of Israel, for the eventual coming of His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The Father continually cultivated the land of the vineyard of Israel by sending the prophets to prepare the soil of the hearts of the tenants, the people of Israel, for the Good News of salvation and liberation from their sins. And of course, as the parable of last Sunday told us, not only did they kill all the prophets the Father sent, in the end, they also kill the Son, the heir of the kingdom when they crucified Jesus Christ on the Cross outside the vineyard walls, that is outside the city of Jerusalem. The Catholic Church is today this vineyard.

In today’s parable, the Father invites the people to a great Wedding Banquet. A wedding banquet that came about by the very death of His Son—Jesus Christ. It was a Wedding that began when Jesus’ bride-the Church, was formed out of His pierced side. Our Father invites all peoples to come to this Wedding. It is in fact, the Wedding of all weddings, to which all earthly weddings point. It is THE place where God doesn’t just want to offer us salvation, but THE place where, through Jesus Christ is Son, He literally wants to marry our soul and make it one with Him.

This Wedding Banquet to which all people are invited is non other than the Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is the salvation of the world because it is Jesus Christ; along with His once and for Sacrifice for us. Because Jesus loves us so much, He didn’t want his sacrifice of love for us to end. He wanted it to continue, to be made present on earth untill the end of time. He loved us so much that he wanted to continue to pour out His unfathamable love and mercy, to continue to offer us His entire self till the end of time.

Jesus is the Bridegroom-God Himself, who comes at every Holy Mass seeking souls to wed. Jesus wants us to become so intimate with Him that He allow us to litterally receive his whole self, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into ourselves…this is the marital act of the Holy Mass which is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb--Jesus.

In the love between a husband and wife they both desire to become so close, that they could crawl into each other’s heart. Well in the love between Jesus, and us, He allows that very thing to happen. He comes into own hearts but only if we but open the door to him. He says to us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and He with me. We open the doors of our heart to the extent we offer our hearts to Him.

The Eucharist is the foretaste of the Heavenly Wedding Banquet. It is literally heaven on earth, althought veiled from our earthly sight.. Even now while we are in this valley of tears, we can come to the Holy Eucharist and participate sacramentally through the eyes of faith in the same banquet as the angels and saints enjoy in heavenly glory-in fact we join with them.

Unfortunately, just as in the parable, many are indifferent to his call. So many in our own day are too caught up in the cares and riches of the world to see the great invitation they are given…one goes to his farm, another to his business. They fail to answer the King’s summons to attend the Banquet or to do so properly prepared and disposed to attend such a great Banquet.

The Lord provides for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, the Lord offers the most food, the free gift of his very self. Jesus offer to us His everything, but all too often He is met with only ingratitude and cold hearts. Jesus must have told today’s parable with a sad heart. He must have thought about how God’s love is rejected so many times.. Blessed Francisco, one the little seers of Fatima spend the last years of his short life trying to spend as much time alone in silence to contemplate, through faith, the face of God. He discovered that there was a saddness to God’s face because of the lack of love of so many human hearts; especially a lack of love toward the Holy Eucharist…

Keeping this saddness of God’s face let us reflect on the following.. At this Wedding Banquet (The Holy Mass) do we bring the gifts of our whole self, and do we openly receive the gift of Jesus’ whole self? In other words, the Holy Mass is a Wedding and at a wedding, vows need to be exchanged before the marital act is performed.. Jesus says His “I do” when he says, “This is my Body given up for you…” Do we then try to give Jesus our complete, “I Do,” in response to His, “I do”?” We do this by offering say back to Him, “this is my body given up to you.. I offer you Jesus, my whole heart on altar, through Mary I place it on the paten completely. Only to the extent we give Jesus our heart can our marriage vows be consummated at the reception of His Heart at Holy Communion and bear fruit in our lives and in our world. (Just like a man or a women who doesn’t say “I do” as a gift of their wholeself at their wedding, their wedding cannot be consumated at the marital act.

Some additional reflections on how we may respond to the Father’s invitation to the heavenly banquet. Do we prepare ourselves to be well disposed to the Love that God wants to give us at this Holy Mass. Do we prepared ourselves as we would if we were invited to a king’s wedding feast (because it is THE KING”S Wedding Feast), or do we attend as if it was just a casual event, not really special in anyway or just as another thing we have to do. Do we follow the Church’s precepts and laws on receiving Holy Communion such as the one hour fast before receiving? Have we cleaned our souls as well as our bodies, in the sacrament of confession or do we receive the King, with serious sin on our souls? Do we dress the part of going to the King’s Feast, not only in our exterior dress, but also by our interior dress of humility and purity of heart? Along with our exterior dress befitting of a royal wedding, are we wearing a interior wedding dress of charity toward our bothers and sisters? It was the garment of charity that the guest in the parable failed to have; in other words, his soul was not in the state of grace and he was promply asked to leave.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us make better use of the gifts, or the graces that Jesus gives us at this His Wedding feast, allowing Him to come fully into our hearts that we may be consumed by His Love and transformed by the Holy Spirit into living instruments of His love and Divine Mercy. Then as we go into the mainroads in our daily lives and seek to invite every one we can find to the wedding they will see the love of God, and the image of the bridegroom Jesus Christ in us and as result respond as well to the Father’s heavenly invitation. We will then bear the fruit of the Holy Eucharist and bring them to share in the joy of the Feast and thus share in the salvation of Jesus Christ. And then together we all will be in the Joy of the Heavenly banquet which is the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist unveiled for all eternity, the full consumation of the marriage of the soul with the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Let us ask as well today, in this month of Our Lady of the Rosary, the mother of the bridegroom to help us become better prepared to attend this great wedding banquets so we may transform our world.

Monday, October 9, 2017

This week, on Friday, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. October 13th, marks the date when over 70,000 people present in the crowd, including a hostile atheistic Communistic Press, witness the Miracle of the Sun. Even those when a 6 mile radius of the crowd saw it. It was the greatest public miracle since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As the three shepherd Children began to see the Virgin Mary, the continuous Rain of three days came to an abrupt stop, the clouds parted and the Sun broke through. Then the sun began to spin and throw off colors. It began to dance about the sky; so violently that at one point seemed to literally break from its obit and plunge toward the earth.

People fell on their knees with fear, some confessed their sins out loud even the bad ones. Then just as it appeared that it was going to crash into the earth and bring the end of the world, the sun stopped and appeared to go back to its normal course. Everybody and everything, including the rain soaked ground was instantly, completely and miraculously dry.

It can never be said enough, however, that Fatima was a message not for just for 1917, but even more so for our times. Our Lady of Fatima warned about the very situation we find ourselves in the modern world. She told us how to avoid the current storms in our culture and in our families and she gave, not a dire prediction of the end of the world, but a great message of hope. That even if we didn’t not head her warnings and so avoid a great chastisement-a great punishment on the world-that in the end her Immaculate Heart would Triumph.

But what is the message of Fatima in its essence? And why is it important to us, to our families and to our world? And how can we, by putting the message of Fatima into action in our lives, bring hope to our world which is so rapidly descending into chaos and as a result is so lacking in hope.

The message of Fatima is in fact the very Formula for bringing down God’s Divine mercy on the world. God is a good Father and He will not let us destroy ourselves; He wishes us to leave sin behind so as to live in the freedom and in the joy of the Children of God, by living under the protection of His Divine Will, which is love and mercy itself. Only then will we have peace.

We must say then that the message of Fatima is a message to be lived. For the message of Fatima is identical to the Message of the Gospel itself, “Repent and believe… for the Kingdom of God is in your midst, because Jesus Christ, the personification of the Kingdom of God, is in your midst, by being truly present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. (The Gospel today warns, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will bear its fruit).

So how do we live the Message of Fatima? Fatima lived on a daily basis calls us to daily, with God’s grace, to strive in order to leave sin behind and seek union with Jesus and through Him with the Father in the Unity of the Holy Spirit. To accept the mercy of God in our lives and in our families, we have to be truly sorry for our sins, confess them fully and truthfully and seek with the help of God’s grace to amend our lives and leave sin behind.

God’s wrath, God’s punishment on the world is always directed toward sin. God hates sin so much because He loves us so much—sin is the antithesis of love; and so, sin separates us from God and one another. Sin does not hurt God, but it hurts us.

Therefore, sin is the cause of all the division in the world, in our families and within ourselves; therefore as well, sin is the cause of all the unhappiness in the world and in our lives. And, as our Lady of Fatima said, “War is a punishment for our sin.” In other words, unrepentant sin leads to war…war within ourselves, our families, our communities and churches and yes even in our world. It’s not that God causes war but we do.

Conversely Peace is caused by the world seeking God’s Mercy through the forgiveness of its sins. And since Peace begins in our hearts and in our families, let us be peacemakers by firstly opening ourselves up to God’s mercy by seeking it as individuals and together as families in the Sacrament of Mercy—Confession and let us do it now. For God promises us mercy not tomorrow.

And to atone for our sins; in other words, to help repair and heal the effects of sin in our lives, families and world, as well as to reverse the downward spiral of world by the unrepentant sin in the world, The Angel of Fatima cried out, “Penance, Penance! Penance!

Sister Lucia later said, the Penance that Angel called for her was not taking on some physical hardship like laying on a bed of boards or wearing a hair shirt, it was merely carrying out our daily duties faithfully according to our state in life. Doing everything we are supposed to do on a daily basis for love of God and love of neighbor; this includes both out material duties and our spiritual duties. This necessarily means we must be in a state of grace, with no unconfessed serious or mortal sin on our soul.

In this way, we also begin to fulfil another aspect of the Message, that of daily prayer. Everything we do, when we do it for love of Jesus and neighbor and in the state of grace, becomes a prayer. Prayer also includes, as Our Lady requested the daily praying of the Holy Rosary and wearing the Brown Scapular.

The Praying of the Rosary as a way to chain the devil up in our lives in our families. The Holy Rosary is a family prayer by families for families-individual families, the family of the Church and the Family of man. And the Rosary leads us to the greatest of all prayers…not the “Our Father,” but the Holy Mass. The Holy Mass is the greatest of all prayers because it is the prayer of Jesus to the Father on our behalf; the prayer of the Head of the body, Jesus and the prayer of the body, the members of the church, united to the head.

The members are united to the head, by attending Holy Mass yes, but by offering themselves along with Jesus’ own self offering to the Father in love. The wearing of the Brown Scapular is a way of asking the Blessed Mother to help us to offer ourselves completely at Holy Mass and to do so with out fear; to totally offer ourselves at Holy Mass to Jesus through Mary in union with St. Joseph. The holy Mass is then at the very Heart of the Fatima Message and the end to which that Message directs us..

The Holy Mass participated in with full, active, conscious and fruitful participation is the source of the Authentic Christian life and the end to which that life is directed to—because it contains in His fullness the Alpha and Omega—Jesus Christ our Lord! Hence the Holy Mass provides us with the very means to live the Fatima message and so to life the Gospel itself-it provides us with the means to become one with Jesus and so take His mercy out into our world.

And this brings us to the final aspect of the Father Message--the Promise. The Blessed Mother came to Fatima seeking those little souls who want to love God with their whole Heart, soul and mind and all their strength and their neighbor as themselves. These littles souls, who would give themselves to her so that she could help them live her message of Fatima would become heaven’s instruments of bringing God’s Divine Mercy and Love down upon the world.

Through these little souls of Our Lady, heaven will bring about through Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart, the Next Greatest Miracle since the Resurrection, a time of peace that the world has never seen before. This unprecedented time of peace in the world and in families and individual hearts, will be brought about by the conversion of the world to the Truth of the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus truly present in all the tabernacles of the world and truly being offered on all the Altars of the world at Holy Mass as the only way to the Father—and so the only way to life, eternal life and so eternal salvation...

O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. And I offer to Thee the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, truly present in all the tabernacles of the world and truly being offered on all the Altars of the world, along with my whole heart, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference for He Himself is offended and through the infinite Merits of His most Sacred Heart and the sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of the blessed Virgin Mary, I beg of thee the conversion of poor sinners (including myself). Amen.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jesus, in light of all that you have forgiven me, in light of your love and mercy for me, I choose to forgive, please help me to forgive completely from my heart. Our Lady of Divine Mercy pray for us.

Twenty-fourth Sunday in ordinary Time. September 17th, 2017. Matthew 18;21.35.

The Book of Sirach, from which our first reading was taken, must have been one of Jesus’ favorite books of Sacred Scripture because He often talked about the moral teachings that are included in it. The Book of Sirach was, in fact, written about 200 years before Jesus was born. And ever since that time, it has been frequently used for moral teaching and for its insights into human nature, or I should say into fallen human nature.

In today’s reading we hear the author of the book, a man named, Jesus Ben Sirach, writing, "Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail." Sirach, then goes on to argue that one who has been faulted must forgive if he is to really keep the commandments, especially the highest of all Commandments-to Love God above all and then to love your neighbor for love of God—in other words, it is impossible to truly love God unless we forgive our neighbor…period

In our Gospel today, Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive the sins committed against him. Peter asks, "As many as seven times?" I don’t know about you but (in our society) seven times seems kind of high, much less seventy-seven times. We have a very vengeful society-just look at our movies. As the bad guy is getting his, by the good guy who is dealing out vengeance more than justice, how many of us haven’t egged the “good guy” on, and in our minds hoped that vengeance would be served? In our heart, we may have even cried out, “kill the creep; after all he deserves it-and make it as painfully as possible.”

But, what does Jesus tell Peter? (Pause) We must forgive seventy-seven times, which is a symbolic number meaning, we must never stop forgiving—or as it means in the original Hebrew, we must forgive always. It seems to me that if we take what Jesus tells us seriously, we truly must have a change of heart.

To forgive as Jesus instructs us—commands us—we must become more serious followers of Christ and, as St. Paul tells us, "live no longer for ourselves but for Christ." We must become so imbued, so filled with the Holy Spirit that forgiveness becomes part of our nature—which it is naturally not. Forgiveness must become a part of who we are. With this being said, how much we are desperately in need of the powerful grace of the Sacraments to live a life of forgiveness.

The truth is, all of us have been sinned against, trespassed against-we have all been victims in some way. To live in the real world is to be abused or betrayed, to be disrespected or not listened to, to be cheated and lied to, to be pushed around, to be used and insulted, sadly, sometimes even by those in our families or in our parish family.

But what do we do with the pain of abuse that is thrown at us? Do we hold the pain in our hearts and, as Sirach says, "hug wrath and anger tight?" Are we resentful to those who have hurt us? In our spare time do we think of ways to get back at those who have hurt us…vengeance—have we even carried this vengeance out in action? Do we close our hearts to them and act as if they don’t exist? Do we wait for them to come crawling back to us, groveling back to us? Or, do we have some other way to justify our un-forgiveness, and so avoid forgiveness, hang on to the resentment and "hold tight to our wrath and anger?" (Pause) Or, instead do we follow Jesus’ commandment to not hate our neighbor and instead act as Jesus does; forgiving even when the person who is to be forgiven does not, by any worldly standard, either deserve or maybe even care to be forgiven?

Because forgiveness is a divine attribute, it is not an overstatement to say, “that to forgive someone who has really hurt us is divine—an act of mercy.” So in order to forgive as Christ asks us, to forgive as Christ forgives, then how much we need the help and grace of God. It begins with the realization of how incredibly much God as forgiven each one of us (no exceptions). In light of this truth, St JosĂ© Maria Escrivá, said, “Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you.”

The fact is, is that the forgiveness of our brother becomes easier to the extent that we realize how grievous our own personal sins really are, how much they offend an all good and loving God and how much they hurt our neighbor and ourselves. What act of Mercy it is for God to forgive our own sins, even the slightest. How can we then not forgive those who have trespassed against us, and so be merciful to them?

I remember someone saying that they had committed a sin equal to murder and how they had received the forgiveness of God; yet later on, this same person spoke about how they just could not forgive one of their loved ones who had wrong them. But we can protest, “but I have never murdered anyone, I have never committed a grievous sin against God.” Well first off, any sin is in a sense grievous, for any sin is an offense against an Almighty God. And, you don’t have to literally kill someone to commit murder; gossip, calumny, detraction, spreading rumors and innuendoes, slander, backbiting, etc., are all murderous. In fact, any act or omission that destroys or tears down or doesn’t support the good in another person is murderous; in fact, any way we seek to destroy the good in another is actually outright evil.

To forgive is to live in freedom as children made in the image and likeness of God. Forgiveness is freeing both to the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. But how can we truly forgive a grievous sin against us, practically speaking? First, as I said before, to forgive, especially very hurtful offenses, takes the grace and help of God. If you need to forgive someone, realize that it is to your own advantage to do so, beg Christ to give you the gift of forgiveness. Begin by seeking the grace of forgiveness for your own sins from Jesus in the Sacrament of confession. And begin by confessing your failure to forgive from the heart. And, then, keep begging until He gives you the grace to be able to really forgive from the heart.

Second, to forgive does not mean that we forget about what was done to us, or try and somehow say it was okay or it was nothing. If the act against us was wrong, it was wrong—Call a spade a spade. “What you did was wrong, and you deserve to be punished, but I forgive you any way.”

Third, we need to remember that we don’t need to “feel like it” in order to forgive. To forgive is an act of our will. In order to be able to forgive does not mean the feelings of un-forgiveness, anger or even hatred need to disappear first. To forgive is not a feeling; it is, like love, a choice. We can, with God’s grace, rise above our feelings of un-forgiveness, vengeance and anger. I choose to forgive this person, because Christ commands me to, because Christ has forgiven me for even greater offenses. And so, I chose to love this person because Christ has loved me, died for me and He loves this person as well and died for them also.

Today, let us place the hurt, anger, resentment and un-forgiveness that we have on the paten along with our Heart at this Holy Mass in order to be offered and so transformed into love by the Holy Spirit. And when we receive Christ in Holy Communion, let us all think of someone who has hurt us and for whom we may hold resentment or anger. Ask Christ, who becomes one with you during Holy Communion, to give you the grace to truly to forgive them, to let the anger and hatred go. And by the way, if you refuse to forgive someone, please don’t receive our Lord in Holy Communion; it will do you more harm than good.

Let us pray: Jesus you have told us, ‘if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.’ Jesus, in light of all that you have forgiven me, in light of your love and mercy for me, I choose to forgive, please help me to forgive completely from my heart. Our Lady of Divine Mercy pray for us. Amen.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Let yourselves be offered to God and allow yourselves to be conformed, not to this passing world, but to be conformed to the Love of God and to His Holy Will, giving yourselves as victims of Love, and thus becoming Co-Redeemers with Jesus for the salvation of the world.

Twenty-Second in Ordinary Time. September 3rd, 2017. Matthew 16; 21-27

Last week we read about Peter making his profession of faith- he being the first one to confess that Jesus was not only the Christ-the Messiah, but that Jesus was truly the living and true God in the flesh. We hear today that it was the Father alone who revealed this wisdom to Peter—for no man on his own can believe that Jesus is God, the only begotten Son of the Father—it takes the gift of supernatural Faith-a gift from God.

Because of Peter’s confession, Jesus intends to build His Church upon the person of Peter, this is signified by a name Change. Peter, once called Simon, is now call Peter, which means literally Rock-You are Rock and upon this Rock I will build my Church. Peter becomes the first Pope and is given the Key of the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth—he is Christ Vicar on earth.

This week, it seems we read quite the opposite- Peter, the “Rock” is now called Satan. How does one go from being blessed by God, the one who knows the secrets of God, to now being called Satan, practically all in but an instant?

After the profession of faith by Peter, Jesus announces to the apostles another secret- that He would go to Jerusalem and enter into His passion by be handed over to be killed and on the third day rise again. Peter, like most of us when any talk of negative things comes up thinks or says– God Forbid! Certainly Peter here is expressing a normal, loving HUMAN sentiment. But then comes one of the harshest rebukes in all of the Gospels- Peter is called Satan. How Peter must have been crushed when his ears first heard this.

Jesus immediately then tells Peter the truth, that he-Peter-the first Pope, is thinking not as God thinks, but as men do. In other words, the wisdom of the Father is being revealed to you, beyond all human reasoning—don’t think as man does but as God does. The Son of Man, who is also the Son of God, must suffer and even die.

The Passion and death of Jesus is certainly the greatest evil to ever or that can ever occur on the face of the earth—at the Crucifixion there occurred, literally, Deicide-man killed God, man tortured and hung His Creator on the Cross to kill Him-to wipe Him off the face of the earth. Only in this great mystery does the mystery of all men and woman’s suffering and death find meaning, find purpose, find hope.

The problem of suffering and evil is certainly a long topic to discuss in a homily; books written on the subject could fill a library. But simply put, it is beyond our ability to fully comprehend. If we say, and I think we should- God forbid this or that evil, we are saying some true and honest. We pray this daily- often times more than once although maybe in many and different ways. Think of how many times God, through our prayers or others, has sent His angels to help us avoid a car accident. Yet, for others, in spite of their guardian angels they do get in car accidents and as a result suffer injury and death. Were their guardians asleep? Were they worse than we? Did God love them any less than us?

Bad things do happen, even to good people, for the rain falls on the bad and the good (cf Mt 5:45). Indeed, it seems ultimately Satan must be the source of the evils in this world. And original sin has had great consequences—man is fallen and so is now prone to suffering and death. But we cannot fall into the trap of saying every little discomfort is from Satan or that only sinners or those without faith suffer. Many of the evils we do suffer are a consequence of our personal sin, but then other sufferings are the results of other peoples sins, and still others the result of no one’s personal sins. So then, what are we to do about all of this?

We must return to our passage, as Jesus reveals the Wisdom of God. Jesus says first, you must deny yourself and follow me; you must take up your cross and follow me. The suffering we experience, often on a daily basis, needs to be united with that of Jesus’. Jesus entered into His passion so we could have ultimate victory over evil. In other words, Jesus didn’t suffer and die so that we don’t have too, but He suffered and died so that our suffering a death could be united to His for the sake of the world and for the salvation of souls, our own and others.

Jesus Christ Himself was not only a priest, He was a priest/victim. There had been many other “priests” in the History of the world. But Jesus, was the first priest in the history of the world, ever to be both the one who offered and the one being offered. He was the priest who offered Himself in sacrifice for those He loved and then He commandment His followers to do the same. If anyone would be a disciple of mine let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Jesus, wanted his disciples (and us) to carry their cross out of love and so follow him by uniting their sufferings, all that they have, their very lives to His suffering and death on the cross. Christians, especially us Catholics, we are called to share in the priesthood/victimhood of Jesus Christ. Many there are, it seems want to be priests, demand to be priests, but few there are who want to priest-victims. We all, by our baptism, belong to the Royal Priesthood of believers, but not only Priesthood, but Royal Victimhood of believers. We are called, chosen by Jesus, to join our spiritual sacrifices and our very lives to His sacrifice for the salvation of souls and the salvation of the whole world….for “No greater love is there than this, than he would lay down his life for his friends.” This laying down of one’s life is not necessarily a physical death, but a death to self, a death to selfishness and a life of selflessness—to die to self will and to live to God’s will alone.

Jesus says, whoever wishes to save his life will lose it. The Greek word “psyche” here for life is much richer than this- it means our soul and person. When adore the Father through Jesus, we abandon ourselves- all that we have and all that we are-especially our suffering to Him. We unite ourselves to His cross. And Jesus gives us the grace each day, to take up our cross and follow him.

God loves each one of us and only allows suffering in our lives so that good can come out of it, that through our sufferings and the offering of them, many souls may come back to Him. Suffering and death are great evils in this life, it is true, but the greatest evil and the greatest loss possible is the loss of a soul for all eternity. The saints have said that any amount of suffering was worth it, if by the offering of our suffering we could saved just one soul from hell and bring them back to God and to a everlasting happiness and union with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and the whole family of the saints and angels for all of eternity.

We don’t have to go looking for crosses, they will come in our lives. Mostly they will be the little annoyances, trips, snags, drops, and monotony of every day life. Sometimes our crosses may be greater, heavier. For those of you that now carry a heavy cross, I pray that the Peace of Jesus Christ be with you, the Peace that the world can not give, the Peace that is beyond all human understanding; the Peace that alone is able to bring us Joy, even in the midst of our deepest and darkest sufferings, a Peace that lets us know that God loves us with an incredible love and never, never abandons us. Especially to you I say:

“The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.”

It is the Holy Mass that makes the Cross of Christ available to us so that we can unite and offering our sufferings to the Eternal Father. At this Holy Mass and at all the Masses you are privileged to attend, I would ask you to offer yourselves, your sufferings, your very lives “as a holy sacrifice truly pleasing to God.” Spiritually as priests/victims place your offering on the altar and then through the mediation of the ordained priest, who is acting in the very person of Christ, unite your offering to Christ’s own sacrifice. Let yourselves be offered to God and allow yourselves to be conformed, not to this passing world, but to conformed to the Love of God and to His Holy Will, giving yourselves as victims of Love, becoming Co-Redeemers with Jesus, for the salvation of the world.

Let us make our offering to the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with the pure and chaste Heart of St. Joseph. Amen.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

“O Jesus Son of David have mercy on me, a great sinner who is unworthy to approach your table but nevertheless I throw my myself at your feet trusting in Your Infinite Mercy. Amen.

August 20th, 2017. Matthew 15;21-28. Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

This Gospel marks the only time that we know of that Jesus ever ventured outside of the Jewish territory. Perhaps, He may have needed time away from the leaders of the House of Israel who not only refused to see Him as the long awaited Messiah and deliverer of God’s chosen people but, who also refused to believe that He was the Son of God. Jesus earlier had said that He had come to give His message only to the House of Israel, but by this venture into Gentile territory, He was pointing to His later commissioning of the disciples to preach the Gospel not only to the Jews, but also to the entire world. The Jews were meant to be the first born children of God but then they, by their witness of God’s mercy and goodness to them, were to lead all the nations and peoples to become Children as well.

So here is this pagan woman, a woman who is not only a gentile but also a Canaanite. The Canaanites were not only non-Jews, they were ancient enemies of the Jews. And to make matters even more interesting, women in Jesus day were seen as lower than the house hold slaves. And so in the eyes of many of the Jews, this woman is considered little more than a “dog” on two accounts, first by being a pagan and second being a woman.

However, in Jesus encounter with this gentile, non-jewish woman, we are given an example of humble, faithful and loving prayer before Lord. This woman knows that Jesus is a Jew and that she is gentile; she knows that she is considered an “enemy” of the Jews. Yet nevertheless, she has heard the wonders, the miracles of Jesus and she has a child who is in greet need…and good mothers stop at nothing to help their children-born or unborn.

She is a mother in anguish because good mothers always have compassion on their children and so suffer along with their children. She doesn’t care about herself; she only knows that this man may be able to help her child. She doesn’t care what others may say or even if she makes a fool out of herself. She throws herself at his feet like a beggar and begins to pray without ceasing for this Jewish man to help her child. She knows that He alone can help her, save her child, save Her.

The disciples themselves are ashamed at the way she is acting; they don’t want to be in this pagan territory in the first place, a territory full of sinners and enemies. But Jesus wishes to teach them compassion (not pity-feeling sorry for, but compassion, that is a willingness to bear and suffer with), and so teach them true love of neighbor. Jesus wants them to intercede on her behalf by asking Him to help her, their “so called enemy.” But instead, they ask Him to send her away. However, even after their attempt to rid themselves of her, she for her part only persists the more. Jesus, moved with pity for her, says, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.”

Now at first, this may sound like a cruel derogatory remark-it may seem that Jesus too, like the others sees her as nothing more than a dog. But the opposite is the case, because Jesus is looking at the woman with eyes of true compassion and with a warm tender loving smile on his face, which robbed the words of any insulting tone. The word dog that he uses here is not the same word that religious leaders of the day used when they called the Canaanites, the other gentiles and even women “dogs.” No, the word here is more like puppy. In other words, Jesus is showing this sorrowful mother, that He doesn’t share in the hatred, prejudice & lack of compassion of the religious leaders of the day.

But even more, He is showing that not only He is the messiah, but that He is her Lord and God, who loves even sinners—who loves her. He wants her to know that He has heard her humble, persistent plea and is ready to answer her faithful, childlike prayer. And she in return is filled with faith and understanding and responds to His love by calling Jesus, “Lord,” and saying with a trusting, childlike smile, “Lord, even the puppies eat of the pieces which fall from their master’s table.”

This woman of great faith teaches us about the loving characteristics of prayer. She teaches us how we are to pray, what kind of disposition of the heart we must have when we pray. She teaches us that we, like her, must realize our unworthiness to approach Jesus with our prayer, that we must be humble before our Lord and become as beggars, crying out, “Jesus Son of David have mercy on me, a great sinner who is unworthy to approach your table”. This is the beginning of prayer-humility--Humility that affects our actions, our demeanor, even our way of dress, especially at Holy Mass.

Humble Prayer starts with an act of adoration. Just like the woman, we realize the importance of prayer and we fall on our knees-we were given knees for adoring and praying. We humble ourselves, physically and spiritually, in body and soul, and make an act of faith & hope and trust by showing God that we realize who He is and how much we need Him, how we recognize our complete dependency on Him for everything, even to our very existence. We also recognize that we can’t even pray without the Help of His Spirit. And so, we call out to Him, “My God Creator of my soul, Father of my soul, I believe in Thee, I adore Thee, I hope and trust in Thee and I Love Thee, Help me now to Believe, adore, hope and trust, and Love Thee more.”

In our humble prayer, in acknowledgment of our poverty, we come face to face with the gentleness and compassion of Jesus Christ who smiles at us, like he did with the woman, and He lets us know that He Loves Us beyond all our imagining. He teaches us how to pray more deeply and intensely, trusting and knowing that we have a God who already knows what we need even before we ask. Jesus teaches us, like the Samaritan woman, to always be persistent in our prayer and to have trust that He hear us and loves us and desires to answer our prayer, but that His answer must be given in His time and according to His Will, not our own, for our sake not His. And we respond, “Lord, how could we possibly want anything but Your Holy Will, since you alone know what we really need, we beg you, give us only those things that will bring us closer to You.”

Jesus also teaches us, what his disciples in the Gospel missed. He wants us to know that we must pray with each other and for each other. Jesus is most pleased when we pray for others, especially before Him in the Holy Eucharist which is the Sacrament of His love because It is Him! This is the prayer that is the most fruitful. We should pray for those in our families, our friends and those who the Lord has brought into our life. However, we can’t stop there---WE should also, especially pray for our enemies. “What good is it, if you love only those you love you, even the pagans do as much?” We should pray for those who are in the most need of God’s mercy and so in the most need of our prayer.

When we pray for others, as well as our self, prayer becomes part of our daily life by offering up our work and activity of the day, even our sufferings, as a prayer; we become willing to show true compassion which again means not pity but a willingness to suffer with and along side the other. We also, come to recognize the importance of prayer in community, prayer together as a parish family, praying for each other and for others outside our parish family. With this recognition we also see the extreme failure in charity and grave sinfulness of deliberately missing Holy Mass on Sundays, or arriving late or leaving early without a serious reason and not participating lovingly, fully and actively, with full heart, mind, soul and body and with all of our strength and will.

The Holy Mass remember is the most perfect of all prayers. The Holy Mass is the Most perfect of all prayers because it is the sacrificial prayer of Jesus to the Father on our behalf, the prayer of His self-offering to the Father for our salvation-it is the ultimate act of compassion. Because Jesus is God, the Holy Mass is the prayer of God to God on behalf of poor little puppies’ like you and me. Without the Holy Mass no prayer would be worthy to come before God.

It is the Holy Mass that allows our prayer to ascend to the Father because the Mass makes it possible for you and me to come before Jesus, before His table, better yet His Sacred Altar. If we offer ourselves to Him, our whole heart, with trust, and receive him in faith, he perfects our love, our love for God and our love for neighbor for love of God…He makes our love sacrificial not emotional!…At Holy Mass, in fact Jesus gives us His own Heart to love with….The Body of Christ.

Let each one of us take a closer look at our prayer life. None of us can say that we pray enough, including me. Do we pray more than just when you are at Sunday Mass? Do we pray the Mass? Do we only pray when we need or want something? Do we pray for others, especially our enemies? Do we begin each prayer, like this woman of today’s Gospel, with a humble, childlike trust in God, pleading Him to answer our prayers according to His Holy Will? Because in the end that is what prayer really is, prayer is not begging God to change His Mind and Will to ours, but our prayer helps us to change our minds and our hearts to correspond to His Holy Will in love so we can become united to Him in Love and lead other to share in these same union of our heart with His.

So let us all ask the Blessed Mother of God to teach us how to pray, so that we may conform ourselves more and more to the Will of God. In her school of prayer we will learn to pray for others in need, helping them to find the healing that they so desperately are looking for-to find Christ Himself! Through her intercession, let us too, ask the Holy Spirit to grant us the grace to realize ever more deeply, that far from receiving scraps from the table at this Holy Mass, we instead receive at the Altar of the Lord, the Lord Himself, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Let us become more than “puppies” before the Lord, but His Beloved children and humbly throw ourselves at His feet, and beg Him to bring us closer to Him through Holy Communion, even to a mystical union of perfect love and happiness with the living God. Then we can show true compassion to those we meet, even our enemies, becoming instruments of God’s mercy and love, leading those separated from God and His Love, to this same union of love with the Living God. “O Jesus Son of David have mercy on me, a great sinner who is unworthy to approach your table but nevertheless I throw my myself at your feet trusting in Your Infinite Mercy. Amen.