Sunday, September 29, 2013

Holy Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Mother of the poor, pray for us, Help us to realize more fully that we can’t love God unless we also love our neighbor, for whatever we fail to do to the least of these we fail to do unto Jesus.

Luke 16 Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. September 29th, 2013

Today we hear what lies at the very heart of being a faithful loving disciple of Jesus Christ; it can be summed up in the following: “What ever you did to the least of my brethren you did unto me and whatever you failed to do unto the least of my brethren you failed to do unto me.” This is also what is at the heart of the social justice message found in the Gospel. But how the social justice message has been misunderstood in the past 40 years or so! Today’s gospel helps us to see the message clearly.

The great sin of the rich man in today’s Gospel, was not that he was rich, for nowhere in the scriptures does Jesus condemn the mere possession of earthly goods as such. But the great sin of this man was that he failed to use his riches to help another in need. Jesus thus harshly condemns all those who use their earthly goods in a selfish way. The rich man was condemned then because he failed to even take notice, in justice, of the poor man Lazarus, who was definitely in need.

The rich man probably did nothing wrong as he amassed his fortune. He probably was not responsible for the wretched poverty of Lazarus, at least not in any direct way. And He probably did not take advantage of the situation to exploit Lazarus. Nevertheless, the rich man had a definite lifestyle. It might be summed up with the words, “he feasted magnificently.” In other words, He lived for solely for himself as if God did not exist, as if there was no judgment after death. He had completely forgotten the fact that we are not owners of what we have, but only administrators and we must look out for the needs of others-we are indeed our brother’s keeper.

The rich man in the Gospel did not know how, or better yet, did not care, to share what God had blessed him with. St. Augustine commenting on this parable, said that Lazarus was not received into heaven because he was poor, but because he was humble. And wealth itself was not what kept the rich man from eternal bliss after all who was Abraham? Abraham himself was the riches of all men while He was on earth. No, the rich man’s punishment was for his selfishness and disloyalty. The sadness of this story is even more increased when we realized that the rich man knew Lazarus by name, for he tells Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue and begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his father's house and to his five brothers, so that Lazarus may warn them, lest they too come to his place of torment.

Each one of us needs to have this parable of the rich man and Lazarus present in our memory; it must form our conscience. When we are in need, when we are not living in luxury, faith and trust in God become paramount; people worry more about their eternal salvation. Yet, paradoxically, when we have enough and more than enough and are lying in our comfort, we can become as the book of Amos says, complacent. In our complacency the last thing on our mind is our eternal salvation, not to mention the salvation of our neighbor. Our hearts can then become hardened to the point that even someone rising from the dead will not convince us of the truth.

Christ however, demands openness to our brothers and sisters in need—openness from the rich, the affluent, the economically advantaged; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped and the disadvantaged, openness to those who are the most vulnerable in our society, not only those who are poor economically, but those who like the unborn, the disabled and the elderly are unable to protect themselves. But this openness also extends to those who are being treated unjustly among us, those who are being bullied, those who are the victims of gossip, rumors or unjust accusations. These too are the poor we are called to assist. How many there are who care for the physical poor but yet can turn a blind eye to other injustices in their own communities, families or even in our church family; even though they may work to fill the poor man’s belly, nevertheless they are still like the rich man; it is still all about them.

Mother Theresa, that great champion of the poor, said that the poorest country she had ever been in, even more so than Calcutta, was the United States. She said the reason that U.S. was so poor was not because it’s people lacked material goods, obviously we are the richest country in the world materially speaking, but that so many in our country do not know the Love and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and so are literally starving for His love. She saw ours as a land of great injustice made apparent in its legalization of killing the unborn. And as such there is no peace, no great joy. The person may die in Calcutta poor but he does so with joy.

The fact is, is that everyone is looking for love, looking for happiness, but billions are looking for it in all the wrong places. Our greatest mission as believing Catholics is to lead souls who are staving for love and happiness to Jesus Christ the source of all real love and true happiness. We ourselves are actually called to make up for the lack of love of God in the world; we must love others for love of God. We are called to stand up to all injustices if we want peace; and if we want peace we must stand up and defend the dignity and the life of all human persons no matter their condition; and if we want life we must proclaim the fullness of the truth of the Gospel as found in the Teachings of the Church, the truth that brings life (c.f. John Paul II). In this way we bring God’s love to our poor brothers and sisters, whether they be materially poor or rich, and in doing so we bring them to Jesus and to his truth which leads them to happiness. By our love, we remind them and ourselves that it is only faith in Jesus as the Son of Living God as shown by our faithful obedience to His Commandments out our love for Him and for neighbor that brings us true and abiding happiness.

But before we can be enabled, empowered, to do any of this, before we can bring Jesus’ love to the poor and lead the poor to Him, we must first recognize Jesus’ presence among us and go to Him. In other words, we just can’t bring Jesus and His love to other’s if we don’t recognize that Jesus is truly, corporally present in the Holy Eucharist. We can’t love others as Jesus loves us without coming into the God who is love present in the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source of all love and the source of all power to love. And so we can’t lead others to the love of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist unless in faith we ourselves first come adore and love Him present there, as the true and living God. Once we realize through faith that the Eucharist is really Jesus Himself—God among us, then we will realize as did Mother Theresa and all the saints, that the truly poor of this world, are those who do not know Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and so are apart from the very fount of the living water of God’s love and mercy poured out for them.

The rich man knew Lazarus by name, and yet he didn’t give Him food. We too know so many modern day Lazarus’ by name; they may even bear the name of our parents our brothers and sisters, children, coworkers and friends, Lazarus’ that do not know the truth that the food for which they are starving for is the food of the Holy Eucharist. We can’t be like the rich man and fail to give the Lazarus’ of our lives what they need most in this world, and that is the truth that the Eucharist is Jesus, God still among us, who in His unfathomable love for us, gives us Himself as our food in order to fill our hunger and quench our thirst for love. Without faith in this Heavenly food, there can be no true justice in our world, no true peace and no fullness of life nor any true happiness or joy.

A few years back, Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote a instruction about the Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of Charity.” The instruction was entitled Sacramentum Caritatis and it was written to the to the bishops, clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful. I want to end share with you an important paragraph of this beautiful document. Close you eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to this great truth; in fact this section has the heading: “The food of truth.”

2. In the sacrament of the altar, the Lord meets us; men and women created in God's image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:27), and becomes our companion along the way. In this sacrament, the Lord truly becomes food for us, to satisfy our hunger for truth and freedom. Since only the truth can make us free (cf. Jn 8:32), Christ becomes for us the food of truth. With deep human insight, Saint Augustine clearly showed how we are moved spontaneously, and not by constraint, whenever we encounter something attractive and desirable. Asking himself what it is that can move us most deeply, the saintly Bishop went on to say: "What does our soul desire more passionately than truth?" (2) Each of us has an innate and irrepressible desire for ultimate and definitive truth. The Lord Jesus, "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6), speaks to our thirsting, pilgrim hearts, our hearts yearning for the source of life, our hearts longing for truth. Jesus Christ is the Truth in person, drawing the world to himself. "Jesus is the lodestar of human freedom: without him, freedom loses its focus, for without the knowledge of truth, freedom becomes debased, alienated and reduced to empty caprice. With him, freedom finds itself." (3) In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus shows us in particular the truth about the love which is the very essence of God. It is this evangelical truth which challenges each of us and our whole being. For this reason, the Church, which finds in the Eucharist the very centre of her life, is constantly concerned to proclaim to all, opportune importune (cf. 2 Tim 4:2), that God is love.(4) Precisely because Christ has become for us the food of truth, the Church turns to every man and woman, inviting them freely to accept God's gift.

Let us end with a prayer:

Holy Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Mother of the poor, pray for us, Help us to realize more fully that we can’t love God unless we also love our neighbor, for whatever we fail to do to the least of these we fail to do unto Jesus. Helps us to see then, that Love of neighbor is a path that leads us to God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.” (Pope Benedict, “Deus Caritas Est.”) Help us as well to accept more fully, in faith, God’s greatest gift and so our greatest treasure, His Gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. Help us to realize that because we have Jesus in the Holy Eucharist we are truly the richest of the rich. Feeding on this Sacrament of Charity at the Holy Mass, help us to then share our riches with the poor; in other words, help us to share the love of God we receive in this great Sacrament with the poor around us and lead them to feast as well at the Feast of God’s love—the Holy Eucharist, which is Jesus Himself who literally gives Himself as food for our soul. Amen.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Holy Mary, Mother of the servants of God, Mother of our True Happiness, Mother of Light because you are the Mother of He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life , Pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Luke 16, 1-13 Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time September 22, 2013

We have had discipleship as a constant theme of our readings these past few weeks. Today is no exception; Jesus tells us a parable about a dishonest steward that has an ending we would not expect. We might think that the steward was a dishonest man, but the situation was not so cut and dry. The steward was very prudent in his dealings and Jesus praises him for it. Let’s take a closer look.

In the ancient Greco- Roman world, the rich man was most likely an absentee landowner, who owned the land as a business. He was most likely a foreigner from another country who had conquered the land he now owned. The foreign landowners would then rent the land to the people who actually used to own the land charging them outrageous rent. And then to rub their faces in it even more, when they couldn’t pay such high rent, the so-called “landowners” would then make loans to them, charging them exorbitant interest on their loans, such as measures of oil or wheat. So the steward’s job was to make as much money for the landowner as possible, no matter what it took. So probably this steward in our Gospel was really dealing very fairly with the local people, as usury, interest, was forbidden in the Jewish Law. In other words, he was probably charging them just the original amount of the loan without the interest.

This news would have of course, made it to the ears of the unjust landowner and infuriated him. In order to secure his profits, the landowner would come and remove the steward in order to replace him with someone who would maximize the profits by oppressing the poor borrowers. The steward would have known this, and so he went around discounting the amount owed. In this way he was prudent and wise- both for trying to not exact usury, which was unjust interest, and also for trying to gain friends when he knew he was about to lose his job.

The people in today’s Gospel would have understood Jesus well, as they were in the same situation as the people of the parable because they were conquered people, conquered by the Roman’s who occupied their country and taken procession of their land, only to unjustly rent it back to them. They would have sympathized with the steward because he was treated in an unjust way; after all he was just looking out for himself and his family. They would have understood why even the landowner recognized the shrewdness of the steward.

Jesus then addresses this crowd. He knew the thoughts of their hearts. It would seem that many of them would have actually liked to have been the landowners themselves, for they had avarice in their hearts, that is a sinful desire and love for wealth, a disordered desire for worldly riches instead of the riches of heaven. Perhaps there were some that were even trying to justify their own unjust dealings with others. They had their hearts set on wealth as an end in itself; they were about the business of the world but not of God. From this we see that money is not the root of all evil, but the disordered desire for it and for the power that comes from it, is certainly the root of all evil, and so it fails to bring any true lasting happiness.

Jesus reminds the people that to be happy they must serve God alone and then neighbor with the gifts that come from God. What do they possess, and what do we possess that has not come from God. Everything we have is really a gift from God, including our very being, our very existence. Jesus is reminding us all that God is the giver of all the good gifts we have in the first place. So we must love the giver of the gifts more than the gifts he gives. Jesus tells us rather directly, “No servant can have two masters. He will hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.” The more we love God, the more we see that all we have, all that we possess is from Him and such, we don’t want to put anything before our love for God and His holy Will.

God has given us all so many gifts and He waits patiently to see what we will do with them. Will we treat them as ends or will we use them as means. In a sense, He has left the world uncreated to a certain degree, in order that we would take upon ourselves, with his help, to great task of finishing His work of creation. He has given others more so that they would help those who have less. He has given one a great talent, so that they would help some one who is not so talented. To one he has given wealth so that they might share with someone who is poor. And most all he has given some the greatest of all treasures-Faith, Hope and Love, so that they would be instruments of God’s mercy to those whose faith, hope and love have been weakened, damaged or even destroyed by sin, whether by their own sin or the sin of others.

This is what our current Holy Father Francis is telling us. Contrary to what some might think or say, it’s the exact same message of Pope Benedict, Blessed John Paul II and the others. It’s not a radical shift; He is not changing any of the Church’s moral teachings; He can’t do that and he won’t. In fact as he himself said, “The teaching of the Church is clear and I am a son of the Church.” And so, He is not saying that the Church’s teaching are not important or that we need to quit preaching them; they in fact, are the only way to authentic love and happiness. But what He is saying is that we must first and foremost be dispensers of God’s mercy. We must first and foremost bring the Love of God to those who are suffering either physically or most importantly spiritually. God died for all men so that all men might have the hope of salvation.

Francis knows that we are living in a world where so many people, in fact where all of us are wounded by the sin around us; so many are crying out in the darkness for the light of God’s love and yes, God’s truth, even if they don’t realize it. So many are longing for love, true and authentic love based on the truth; so many are longing to be loved even in their weakness, dysfunction and sinfulness—so many are seeking true happiness. Francis says:

I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about his level of blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds….and you have to start from the ground up.

But this is what the Church as always taught even if some have not always emphasized it; she is to be a "hostel for saints and hospital for sinners." In others words, using the example of the prodigal son and the merciful father from last weeks parable, before pointing out the moral errors that the son committed which got him into such trouble and led him to such unhappiness, the Father first ran to his son, threw his cloak around him, put rings on his fingers and covered him with kisses. The father didn’t say the sins didn’t matter because obviously they did; they were the very cause of the separation of son from the Father, the cause of so much misery; but first, the father showed the son Love so that he could then show the son Mercy.

We must preach the fullness of the Gospel’s truth, unadulterated and not water down; but, as Blessed John Paul taught us, as Benedict taught us and now as Francis is teaching us, we must do it with Love, better yet with Charity, that is with God’s love and His TRUTH alive in our hearts. We must first show God’s love and life alive in us. And to be able to do this we must live the Gospel truth, which is the same thing as saying we must accept and live the fulness of the teachings of the Church, even the tough ones, with the help of God’s grace, in order that we become living Gospels sharing God’s love and then light of His truth with others. In this we become ministers of God’s mercy to all…Let’s listen to his Holiness, Pope Francis, once more:

The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost.

“…Without getting lost….,” that is without being too rigid or too lax. To, as the Church as always taught, "to love the sinner but to hate the sin." To hate the sin which is causing the sinner so much pain, suffering, darkness, despair, and loneliness, the sin which causes separation from God and from others. Yes we must condemn the horrible sins of homosexual acts, contraceptive methods and the other moral sins. And yes, we must condemn in the strongest way the sin of abortion, which Francis blasts as being “part of a throw away culture.” But we must first be willing to sit in the night, in the darkness with a woman who has had an abortion or who is contemplating one, because only darkness could lead her to such a terrible horrible lifeless decision. And to sit with her not condemning her but bringing her the light and love of Christ and yes, then truth of Christ. As one writer put it,

The Good Shepherd knew that, first of all He had to bind the wounds of the lost sheep and place them on His shoulders, and then they would listen. He entered towns healing the sick, casting out demons, opening the eyes of the blind. And then He would share with them the Gospel, including the moral consequences of not heeding it. In this way, Jesus became a refuge for sinners. So too, the Church must be recognized again as a home for the hurting.

We can not be about the business of the world, which is not just about making money, but which is also about condemning others—it is the world that condemns not Jesus or His Catholic Church. We must be about the business of spreading God’s love and God’s healing to everyone, no matter who they are; believer or unbeliever, friend or enemy, rich or poor, saint or sinner. We must be willing to meet people where they are at in order to lift them up not tear them down; But, but, to meet them where they are at, not to leave them there, but to give them the truth, the truth which leads them to happiness, and not just the happiness that this world offers, but to Beatitude; that is, to share already on earth, out of this world heavenly happiness, which is union with God who is Love, Truth and Light Itself.

Let us then at this Holy Mass which makes present the God who is Love in our midst, let us be about this business, the business of love, the business of God. By the grace of Love Himself who is offered to us in the Holy Eucharist, let us be about the business of helping in the salvation of souls which is healing them and restoring them to God by restoring them to His Holy Catholic Church and her teachings, which are teachings of love, which alone lead us to true happiness and the fullness of life. “For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that One died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who love might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Cor 5:14-15). So let us all ask the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to help us to be faithful disciples about the business of God:

Holy Mary, Mother of the servants of God, Mother of our True Happiness, Mother of Light because you are the Mother of He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life , Pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Holy Mary, Mother of the lost and forsaken, and so Mother of sorrows, pray for us. Your hands were the very first paten on which the Son of God was offered to the Father, through the priest, in the temple at Jerusalem....

Luke 15;1-32 Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time September 15th, 2013

The parables of the Gospel today, the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son, are all very familiar to us. The parables of the lost sheep and prodigal son are so popular that you can see in many people’s homes pictures of Jesus with a sheep on his shoulders or the Father receiving the prodigal son. We have read some fairly difficult Gospels the last few weeks on discipleship- topics like humility two weeks ago, and last week's taking up your cross each day, are not easy ones.

In light of the seriousness of these topics, certainly, many of us have tried to respond anew, and with greater intensity to Jesus’ call, and have started to put into practice what he asks-like giving God the first part of our day making an act of adoration and prayer the first thing we do in our day. Perhaps you made a firm resolution to do this, and low and behold, you missed a couple of mornings. It is certainly hard to develop new habits or virtues, and we can easily become discouraged and disheartened. Even though in our hearts we long to follow Christ fully and to do the right thing, we know we are very weak and live in world where it is so very difficult to do the right thing. And so, it’s really easy to become discouraged in our efforts and say, “Oh, what’s the use- I’ll never get this right!”

Well today, through the readings, God speaks to our discouragement. He desires to help us to be faithful in our desire to be good and faithful disciples. He wants us to know that He is merciful God, a God who is patient and kind. He is a generous and understanding God; quick to forgive those who are contrite of heart. He is a God who never keeps score or tallies our iniquities. No, He is not a scorekeeper but a promise keeper. Being well aware of our human weakness, He prefers not to condemn us; after all He has presented us with his greatest gift imaginable, the gift of His only Son, who he offers to us in and through all the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Eucharist because it is Jesus in the flesh.

In each of the parables in the Gospel today, the central figure is then God Himself. He is God who is on a “search and rescue” mission. He is a God who does everything He can to recover those of His children who have succumbed to temptation and so have separated themselves from Him and His love for them.
God is in fact, the Good Shepherd who misses the sheep gone astray by sin, seeks it out in order to bring it back to the fold. Once he has found it, He carries it on His shoulder, since it is trembling and weak from its disobedience and the great burden of its sins. God also seeks us, similar to the actions of a woman who having lost a coin of great value, lights a lamp and searches the whole house diligently and patiently until it is found. As well, God is a loving father who longs for the return of His son, going out daily, scanning the horizon to see if His son is coming so that as a Father He can run to His returning son and throw His arms around him and cover him with kisses.

Yes, these beautiful images of God are given to us to encourage us in our daily struggles. But at the same time they are given to us as an example to follow in our discipleship. They let us know that discipleship involves nothing less than taking into our hearts the qualities of God Himself-we are called to be God-like through divine grace.

We are to have a merciful, forgiving heart like God, a heart that desires that none be lost, that all be found and saved. And if we are to take on the qualities of the Father's heart, our discipleship then, includes a sharing in God’s own mission, which again is a search and rescue mission. It is a sharing in the mission of the Father, through, with, and in the Sacred Heart of the Son, of finding the lost sheep and bringing them back into the one fold, His one true Church.

The Second Vatican council applies the image of the Good Shepherd, and so this search and rescue mission, especially to priests when it states: “They (the priest) should be mindful that by their daily conduct and solicitude they display the reality of a truly priestly and pastoral ministry both to believers and unbelievers alike, to Catholics and non-Catholics; that they are bound to bear witness before all men of the Truth and of the Life, and as good shepherds seek after those too who, whilst having been baptized in the Catholic Church, have given up the practice of the sacraments, or even fallen away from the faith.”

But the Second Vatican council doesn’t limit this rescue mission merely to priests. It reminds us that we have all been the lost sheep at some time in our lives. And because we have all been searched for and found by the Mercy of our God, we are now all call to imitate God in His search and rescue mission by answering the call to faithful discipleship from our Lord. With full, active, conscious and fruitful participation we are to seek out the lost, and rescue them by our lives of holiness bringing them the light, love and life of Christ alive in us.

Our sharing in God's search and rescue mission for lost souls is known as the apostolate. This is what Vatican II said is the true role of the laity, the role of the apostolate. And this role of yours begins and has its source and summit here at Holy Mass. All of us are called to take a full, active, conscious, fruitful participation in the Sacred Liturgy of the Holy Mass. What does this mean?

Well it doesn’t mean just to sing or say the responses louder, although we should do that. It doesn’t mean that we have to become Extra-ordinary ministers of Holy Communion or to bring up the gifts more often. But what it really means, is that we are to participate with full mind, heart, body and soul, and with our whole strength and being in the once and for all sacrificial offering of Jesus Christ the High Priest to the Father which is made truly present here on the sacred altar through the Sacred Priesthood.

In other words, we are to participate in the perfect act of adoration of Jesus to His Father, which is perfect because it is the adoration of God by God. How do we do this type of participation? By an act of our will in which we place our self as a victim of love on the paten, as an offering to God the Father; so that along with the bread that will be change in to the Divine Victim of Love, the very Person of Jesus, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, we too can be offered and so transformed, changed through holiness, into another Christ for the renewal and salvation of the world.

Here at Holy Mass all of us are to understand (conscious participation) that we are to offer our whole self, both as individuals and as a parish family (full participation) by an interior act of our will (active participation), to the Father, in union with the Son, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. In this act of sacrificing of ourselves to God, (not to be destroyed, but to be one with Christ, the body united to the head), we offer the Father perfect praise and adoration in Christ through the Holy Spirit. We then become more and more in union with God, one with God, and are transformed more and more into His image and likeness and become, not just channels of grace for the world, but reservoirs overflowing with grace for the world and so for souls (fruitful participation), to bring them to the Father and His love for them. In other words, by our actual participation at each Mass we become more and more divinized; we become more fully "other Christ's, active and full members of His mystical body," who are empowered take what we have been given, literally the love of God, God Himself alive in our hearts through Holy Communion, out into our sinful world to the lost and forsaken sheep.

The truth is, is that it is only the Holy Mass offered properly according to God’s ordinance, which can save the world and the souls in it. Because the Holy Mass is first and foremost the action of the Head, Jesus Christ offering perfect adoration, through the once again offering of His life to the Father for us, the Mass is the primary source of all the grace that comes into this world. In fact no grace, none, comes into the world except through the Holy Mass. But this infinite grace, the grace of each and ever Holy Mass by God’s ordinance, can only flow out into the world through the Mystical body of Christ, that is through us, if we are open to it by joining fully, actively, consciously in this same self-offering of Jesus Christ to the Father. This is the universal call to holiness. Holiness is not just for ourselves, but it is to be fruitful that is, our personal holiness, brought about by our true participation at the Holy Mass, is to be the very means by which God desires to seek and rescue and so to save lost souls and renew our world which is being destroyed by the sins of mankind.

In the Holy Mass, through the Son in the Holy Eucharist, the Father embraces each of us in love and covers us with His kisses; but then He calls us to go out and bring other sheep to Him here at the Holy Mass, so He can embrace them as well with His divine Love and Life. The result will be great joy, because our brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and now has been found.'" We will be with him celebrating and rejoicing here, in praise and adoration of our God, at this sacred feast, the Holy Mass where heaven and earth unite, eternity breaks into time, and Man begins to share already in that for which he was created, sharing in the Oneness, in the Love, in the very Being of the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the glory of God, man fully alive.

Let us turn to the Blessed Mother for help:

Holy Mary, Mother of the lost and forsaken, and so Mother of sorrows, pray for us. Your hands were the very first paten on which the Son of God was offered to the Father, through the priest, in the temple at Jerusalem. Today may your hands present us as well, at this Holy Mass and every Holy Mass, placing our hearts on the paten to offered up by the priest to the Father in union with the Son for the salvation of the world. Help us to make this sacrificial offering of ourselves fully in love and so without fear; obtain for us the grace to be empowered to live this life-offering out in all aspects of our daily life, so that we may glorify our Father by being fully alive, thus becoming the means for others to live in the Joy of His Holy Will which is love and mercy itself. Amen.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our Lady, mother of the faithful disciples of the Lord, today is your birthday, we give you our hearts, pray for us. Amen.

Luke 14, 25-33 Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time. August 8th, 2013

Last week’s readings were very much about the virtue of Humility; and so were also about it’s opposite vice—pride. A good concise definition of pride is, “doing your own will." We don’t have to feel prideful in order to be prideful; if we do our own will, very simply we are prideful. However, if pride is doing our own will, then, Humility is simply doing God's will.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that each day when we wake up, if we listen closely and humbly, we can hear Jesus asking us to be his faithful disciples to a greater degree than we were yesterday. Are we willing to put our love and obedience to Him before anything or anyone? For example, will we love Jesus today even more than our closest loved ones, our father, mother, wife, brothers and sisters, children and even ourselves? This brings up three important points of what it entails to be a faithful disciple of Christ in our everyday life.

First, being a faithful disciple of Jesus entails a daily struggle. Practically, this struggle begins the very first thing in the morning when we wake up. Do we put our love for God first in our day? We struggle with getting out of bed and we struggle even more to do that first act of adoration of our day. Our minds can quickly turn to other things- like “I’ve got to get everyone else up and breakfast prepared.” “What time is that first appointment of the day?—augh, better to hit the snooze alarm just one more least!

How quickly our minds can become filled with the preoccupations of our day. These things are important, but in spite of them, will we love God first and put Him first in our day? Instead of these things, the very first thing our minds can focus upon, immediately when awakening, is on God. We can then make the sign of the cross and get out of bed quickly, falling on our knees in order to make the first act of our day an act of adoring God saying, “O God Creator of my soul, Father of my soul, I adore Thee and I love Thee, please help me to adore Thee and love Thee more this day.” We have to start off each day right by putting God first if we are to keep Him first throughout our day—first things first. This first act of our day, which only takes a few minutes, can end by quickly praying a prayer to our Lady and our Guardian Angel before we get up and get physically ready for the day.

We can then end our day as we began it, humbly on our knees. There we ask the Holy Spirit to help us for just a few minutes each night to truthfully examine our day, to examine those times in which we failed to put God first by fulfilling His Holy Will, namely our sins; and also to examine those times in which we carried out, albeit in our poor way, God’s Holy Will, so that we can thank Him and give Him the glory for the good work He has accomplished through us. We ask the Holy Spirit then to point out for us what specific thing He wants us to work harder on tomorrow, with His assistance of course. We follow by making an act of contrition, saying a night prayer to our Lady; and then, as the very last thing done before climbing into bed, we humbly bow our selves in body and souls before God with another act of adoration, saying a prayer such as the Glory Be or the adoration prayer we started our day with…God Creator of my Soul, Father of My Soul, I adore You.

Second point: When we realize that being a faithful disciple of Jesus entails daily struggle, we also understand that we must pick up the cross that Jesus gives us each day. Jesus never promised us Christians a rose garden, especially one without thorns. All of us have some sort of suffering in our lives and these are our cross that we must carry daily. Some crosses are big, many are small; perhaps, ours is an illness, or an illness in the family. Maybe it’s troubles in the family- the children are misbehaving, a relative in trouble. Or maybe it’s the daily troubles at work- that bothersome coworker, a heavy workload. Perhaps it’s being out of work, or maybe just the humdrum and contradictions of everyday life.

Whatever our sufferings may be, they are something that God has allowed in our life in order to make us into great saints, that is great friends, faithful disciples of Jesus. We can carry any cross if we do so for love of Jesus and for the salvation of souls; he will help us if we daily pray to Him…we can then say, not, why me? But rather, Why not me?”.

And the third point, when we understand being a faithful disciple of Jesus means daily carrying our cross, we also discover that we must also daily renounce all of our possessions if we are to follow Him. However, before we can do so, we must first understand what it means to renounce all of our possessions. Not that we give up everything we own, but that we don't put any of it before God and His Holy Will; and that we detach our heart from anything that does. Humility of soul is what we are talking about rather than a lack of worldly goods.

And so, possessions are anything, anyone that might separate us from God. The list can be long. We immediately think of material goods. The question we can ask ourselves to see whether or not something posses us is, “do I possess this thing or does it possess me?” Does it possess me to the point that my heart is more attached to it than to God? Our world is so full of materialism and consumerism that it is a struggle to not be possessed by the things of this world.

But possessions are more than just material things. We especially need to get rid of our greatest of all possessions, as I said before, the possession of our own will. We cannot do the any of the three points I just mentioned until we sacrifice our will; again this is at the essence of what it means to carry one's own cross. We love to have things our own way in the many events of everyday life. Interiorly, we can all sometimes act like spoiled children; “It’s my way or the highway.” Instead, we sacrifice my way for God’s way, by making daily sacrifices for love of God and others, for our family, for our parish family, and for our larger family the Church. In this we discover, that what really counts in this life, the path to true fulfillment, security and joy, is not the fulfillment of our personal desires, but he fulfillment of God's will. Fulfilling God's will in our life is only that which will fulfill our personal desires fully.

So to review the three points to following Jesus more faithfully: First each and everyday, we must make an act of adoration to God, in which we give to Him all that we are and all that we have. And in those things, which are most difficult to let go of, those things that hold possession over our hearts, we ask the Holy Spirit to slowly help us to renounce them. And finally we accept and carry our cross with great love for Jesus and for our neighbor out of our love for Jesus..

These three points can be summed up with this fact, that ultimately, being a true discipleship of Christ involves sacrifice; that is, surrendering ourselves fully to Christ. This is what love does it sacrifices, surrenders it's will, itself, for the sake of the other, for love of the other, in order to be one with the other!!! When we surrender ourselves in sacrificial love to Christ we are not destroy.

Unfortunately the world today really only understands sacrifice in a negative way, as a way of destruction. Not at all. As Pope emeritus Benedict tells us, Sacrifice to God doesn't entail destruction or non being; its not throwing ourselves or our being thrown into a volcano in order to appease the gods. No, sacrifice to God is rather, self surrender; or better yet, it is total abandonment to an all-good and all-loving Father. It entails a way of being. We give ourselves totally to God, freely and with trust, so that we are no longer separated from Him; we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him alone, for His Holy Will which is Love and Mercy itself!

Only when we lose ourselves for God, is it possible to find ourselves. True sacrifice transforms us; when we freely surrender ourselves to God, far from losing anything, we become like God, one with God, we share in God's own nature, which is the nature of love; far from being destroyed, we become fully who we are meant to be and desire to be

It goes without saying then that the supernatural help we need to carry these three points out in our lives comes only from frequent and worthy reception of the Sacraments and through intimate daily prayer. And so do we seek the strength of His grace frequently through the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Eucharist and Confession? Do we spend intimate time with Him in prayer daily, especially that most efficacious of prayer, which is prayer before His truly presence in the Holy Eucharist either at Holy Mass or outside of Mass before the tabernacle or during times of Eucharistic adoration?

Let us turn to the most perfect of all the Disciples of Christ for help, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our sacrifice of self is offered here at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. She will help us to surrender ourselves to God and to His Holy Will, all in union with the Sacrifice of Her Divine Son, which becomes truly present here on this sacred altar. She will, if we ask her, obtain from Him the grace we need to live our life offering, each and every day in all areas of our lives, thus becoming like her, a faithful disciples of the Lord, bringing God's healing love into the midst of our broken world.

Our Lady, mother of the faithful disciples of the Lord, today is your birthday, we give you our hearts, pray for us. Amen.