Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mary and Joseph lead our families to deeper faith, adoration, trust and intimate love for your Divine Son Jesus really and truly present, physically, corporally, in the flesh in the Holy Eucharist; so that, our families may one day enter into the Holy Eucharist unveiled in the Holy Family of Heaven—the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, along with all the angels and saints. Amen.

The Solemnity of the Holy Family. Sunday December 28th, 2014

Merry Christmas! Yes, we are or still should be, celebrating Christmas, Christmas is far from over! The Solemn celebration of Christmas ends with the Baptism of the Lord. Today, within the Octave of Christmas, eight days of solemn celebration, we celebrate family, and the Holy family in particular. The Holy family is the model and image of what our families should strive to be. Now before you begin thinking that this is unreasonable, impracticable or impossible, let us take a closer look at the Holy Family; God doesn’t give us a model to follow without providing the means to imitate it in our own lives and family.

In the thirty hidden years of Nazareth we discover that the Holy Family was in a sense an Ordinary family. There was nothing out of the “ordinary” in the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family even had turmoil, as seen in the flight to Egypt, and when Joseph and Mary “lost” Jesus for three days.

Mary, even though the Mother of God, lived her life as a traditional Jewish homemaker providing for the needs of her family. She loved Joseph, She was submissive to her husband in the true sense of that word. She sacrificed and worked hard to make her house a home. Most of all, she loved Jesus with her whole heart, and so loved God above all things, in words and most importantantly in deeds. She was the most faithful disciple of the Lord.

Joseph was an ordinary skilled labor who provided for his family. Jesus was known as the son of this carpenter. Joseph loved his wife as he loved his own body, and so lived a manly life of chastity. Most importantly, St Joseph, was the spiritual provider, “head” of the family. He loved God above all; and in his home and in his work, Joseph served the Lord. And so, as he held and cradled Jesus the son of God in His arms, St Joseph also held the Child Jesus close, intimately, to His Heart (this is a hint to the relationship all fathers should have to Jesus, they need to receive in Him and hold Him closed to their heart…true men are men of Christ for Christ was the True- the Full Man).

For His part, Jesus, lived like any other inhabitant of Nazareth, working the same trade as St. Joseph and earning his living by the sweat of his brow. He worked hard and even became tired…imagine! God became tired! Speaking of Jesus’ life at Nazareth the Gospel sums it up by telling us, “He was obedient to Joseph and Mary.” Even though He was God in the flesh, Jesus lived as an obedient child, obedient to the fourth Commandment, to honor thy Father and Mother, thus showing his love for his parents on earth. Jesus has given the perfect example of how all children should treat their parents, and of how all spiritual children should treat their spiritual fathers in Christ.

So even though having lived an ordinary life, what are the great secrets of the Holy Families’ hidden life at Nazareth? Secrets we can discover to help us to imitate their true and happy family life. Secrets we can follow in our own lives with the Holy Families help.

First, is the secret of its silence. Nazareth was a place of peaceful rest from the noise of the outside world. It was a womb so to speak, where the members of the family could grow in love for one another and in love for God. Our families should be the same; they should be a place of peace, of place of respite from the noise and clamor of the outside world that is always trying to distract our attention from the things that really matter—love of God and love of family. Frequently, we need as a families to shut the T.V. off, turn the internet off, and put the cell phones and Ipads away and spent quality time in each other’s company before the Lord.

In this, we discover the secret that Nazareth was the perfect place for the rearing of Children. Nazareth as we have said is the perfect model of what family life should be. Jesus, Mary and Joseph loved another, they always deferred to one another out of loved, putting the needs of the other before their own. It was a mutual submissiveness for the good of the family. We need the grace to to the same. In our family life, we should always ask ourselves in: “Is what I am thinking, saying and doing, is what I want, truly for the good of the family and for the salvation of souls.” By the way, what I say for our families goes equally as well for our parish families and why we need to be part of and take an active part in Parish family life.

The family should be a community of true love and sharing, a place for perfecting all of the human virtues such as patience, kindness, responsibility, magnanimity, honesty, respect and trust to name but a few. And on of the most important virtue, the virtue of forgiveness. This is the basic holy and enduring function of family in society, to be unit or cell of love in the wider community, a “Domestic Church.”

The family is, in fact, known as the seedbed of the virtues because it is in the family that they can grow the most. However, this doesn’t mean it’s easy to practice the virtues in the family. In fact, as we all know, the family is where it is actually the hardest to practice the virtues; it takes tremendous effort, self-control and self-denial, and patience and so grace. But remember, where it is the hardest to practice the virtues, that is where they can grow the most. I like the saying of Blessed Matt Talbot, “When in company guard your tongue; when alone guard your thoughts, and when in the family Guard your temper.”

And finally, the Holy Family’s secret was that it was centered not just around the life of a child and the activities of the child, but around and on the life of the Child who was God-Jesus. Mary and Joseph loved Jesus more than anything, and so they loved God more than anything. Their love for one another had in fact, it’s very source in Jesus. The Sacred Heart of Jesus was the center of their family. And so the Holy Family was a family of prayer, a family that drew its life blood from Jesus- who was God and was truly present in the flesh, bodily and physically in their midst.

Like the Holy Family, the source of the love between the members of our families must be Jesus and His Sacred Heart; that is, if we are truly to be enabled to love another as we ought as we truly desire; it is impossible otherwise. The Sacred Heart of Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist, is the very source of the love we absolutely need in order to love one another in our families.

Our families like the Holy Family then need to love Jesus and draw close to His Loving Heart more than anything, and so love God more than anything. So, like the Holy Family, spending time in our homes with Jesus in prayer be at the center of our family life. And spending time with Jesus in the temple, in the house of God must be the most important event in our family. Prayer in the True Presence of Jesus and His Sacred Heart in the Holy Eucharist, must be at the heart of our family life…And so, as families we need to work hard at making the most important event in our family participating actively, fully, consciously and fruitfully in the most perfect of all prayers--the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (and attending the Sacrament of Confession as a family in order to be made worthy to attend the Holy Mass with pure souls).

It is at the Holy Mass that we too just like the Holy Family have Jesus, Emanuel, truly in our midst…not just spiritually but corporally physically present in the Holy Eucharist…no less present to us than to the Mary and Joseph. It is at the Holy Mass, that we can give our heart fully to the Christ Child in order to receive His Heart fully at Holy Communion. Faith in the Holy Eucharist as Jesus truly Present in His human body still with us, trusting that He is there and that He love us more than we can imagine is exactly how we keep Jesus, and His Love for us, at the center and the focus of our entire family life.

Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! Let us not lose hope for joy and peace and greater unity and love in our families. Let us ask, the entire Holy Family to help us imitate their love and their holiness. Jesus, Mary and Joseph we love you. Jesus, Mary and Joseph help our families to be holy, peaceful, loving families like your own. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, save the souls of the members of our families. Mary and Joseph lead our families to deeper faith, adoration, trust and intimate love for your Divine Son Jesus really and truly present, physically, corporally, in the flesh in the Holy Eucharist; so that, our families may one day enter into the Holy Eucharist unveiled in the Holy Family of Heaven—the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, along with all the angels and saints. Amen.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Our Lady of the New Advent, through your intercession obtain for us the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us to open the gates of hearts fully at this Holy Mass in order that the Heart of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, may come fully in, in order to heal us, free us, save us. Amen.

John 1; 6-28 Third Sunday in Advent. Gaudete Sunday. December 13, 2014

We rejoice and are glad as we await the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is what we proclaim today as we celebrate this Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudate Sunday. We await Jesus coming just like His herald, John the Baptist. John himself shows us the way to Christ and how to wait with patient, but joyful expectant hope…with excitement.

During the first century in Israel, the Romans controlled the entire political and religious life. Many people at the time of John were looking for political answers to their oppression by the Romans. Now, most of us have never had to live under foreign occupation in this country so it’s hard to image how terrible it must have been for the Israelites. So we can understand their questions. “Who would ever come to free them, who could possibly grant them liberty? The people who went out to see John the Baptist-had these same questions, “They asked John, “Are you the one, like Moses or David or Elijah that will lead a glorious and powerful army to victory over the Romans. Unfortunately, in their questions we see all too clearly that their hope was solely in human power, in human solutions, such as politics or even war.

John knew all too well the state of affairs in the country of Israel. Yet he saw hope not in human solutions, a political party or war, but in divine solutions. John saw the greatest enemy was the people’s own infidelity to the Lord. So, he preached boldly about the need for repentance, about turning from the real oppressor-sin. He knew that the real problem of the day was the hardness of people hearts, their refusal to give their total yes to God as shown by their following faithfully God’s commandments and teachings. John called them all to task, no exceptions; he called everyone even Kings and religious leaders to repentance.

But John not only preached repentance, he lived it. Listen to his humility in the responses he gave. “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Not worthily to unloosen his sandal strap.’ John saw who he was in relation to God, that he, himself was totally dependant on God for everything. “I am not the one, Jesus is the one.” John knew the truth, he knew he himself needed a savior; he knew he could not fix his own problems, he hoped in God alone--God alone can save.

John pointed the world to the One who would come and who alone could fix the world—Jesus is the one. He is the one who will bring Glad tidings to the lowly, healing to the sick & liberty to the captives. What glad tidings these are and they make up the Good News of Jesus, the Gospel. This Gospel is not just a message, not just a holy book, it is a Person, a Divine Person, Jesus Christ-who is still truly, physically present among us in the Holy Eucharist—Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is the Message. He is THE friend to the lowly, the poor, the sick and oppressed. Jesus through His true presence in the Holy Eucharist will bring a victory, a victory much greater than any military victory over any enemy of this world.

Jesus shows us His definitive victory. One of the greatest military powers the world has ever seen threw everything that it had at him, even their greatest torture--crucifixion. The power of hell itself, threw everything it had at Him, even its greatest torture, the very power of death itself. And Jesus in return showed them and us an even greater power, the very power of God Himself. And because Jesus was God it was His own power, and He used it to defeat the power of hell itself by His glorious resurrection. The Resurrection shows us definitively that God’s power can swallow up anything the power of this world has to offer; anything the power of hell as to offer…This is indeed THE GOOD NEWS.

Jesus side is the winning side, the battle as already been won! If we are truly on His side, we will be victorious as well. But Jesus will lead us primarily to a spiritual victory just like His. Jesus will not necessarily take all our troubles away, we still have to, like Him, suffer and die, but He will give us His own Power in order, not only to prevail and to persevere, but to do so with Joy and peace. If we are with Jesus, no power in this world can defeat us; not death, not even the devil himself can take away our victory, our goal, which is heaven and a share in the eternal life and family of God.

Along with His victory, Jesus brings with Him as well the power to heal the broken hearted, He saves by healing. The heart in the bible always stands for the whole person, the very core of the person, all that we have and are. Jesus has the power to heal our heart, but we have to give it to Him, better yet, to freely offer it to Him so that He can heal it. We try to offer our heart fully at Holy Mass, no strings attached. To lift up our heart, means to offer it fully to the one who is the King of hearts in order to make Him the Lord of our life and become one with Him in Love.

When God is not the Lord of our heart, our heart becomes broken, shattered, divided. When God is not number One in our life, over and above all else, the very organizing principal of life is missing. Our life becomes divided, shattered, we run to and fro, following this impulse and that impulse, but never finding peace or meaning in our lives. We try this self help program, we listen to this guru on T.V. and then that one, we try to grab this created thing, this new technological marvel or that one, but never do we ever find fulfillment or peace, not to mention joy. Jesus is our only meaning in this life.

Jesus heals the broken hearted by coming to live in our hearts but only if we open the gates to them. O come Emmanuel, come live in our heart. This is the very mission of the Church to heal broken hearts by the power of Jesus resurrection which comes to us in and through the Sacraments. We too live in a broken hearted world, one which is marked with conflict- wars, divisions, and a general disregard for God and the things of God. We too want to see the solutions to all of our problems apart from God. We too think we can save ourselves; we can solve all of our problems and we don’t want to conform our lives to God’s truth in order to do it. Yet, this is so far from the truth. We are helpless and cannot save ourselves nor solve all of our problems apart from God and His truth.

Jesus victory brings with it as well the power to bring liberty to the captives. But again, Jesus freedom is not a physical freedom from the problems or powers of this world, but it is a true freedom, the freedom from sin. Israel wanted freedom from the worldly power of the Romans, Jesus showed them that their captivity to the Romans was really a result of their sin. Sin is the ultimate slavery. Sin is addictive. It is very addictive, very oppressive and there are many in our day, that are captive to its power. O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Ransom captive, Israel. Israel, is a symbol here of our souls captive to sin.

We know that we so much want to do good, and to live the life God calls us to live. But there is a war inside of us, a war in which we know the good to do, that which God wants us to do, but many times we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to do it. Pride, anger, lust, sloth, envy, avarice, gluttony, these deadly sins have us in their grip, they can hold us for ransom and keep us from doing God’s Holy Will. The Good News is Jesus comes to give liberty to the captives, liberty to us, to free us from these sins & to win the battle that wages within us. And how does He do it. HE does it by giving to us a share in His own redemptive work. HE gives us a mission to help others held ransom.

This is our mission, our apostolate. He wants us to get off ourselves, off our self-centeredness, to let go of our petty obsessions and bring the Good news of His coming in the Holy Eucharist, of His Divine Power in the Holy Eucharist to others. Jesus gives each of us our own mission to take His divine love out into the daily world in which we live, to love others for love of Him. He says to each of us, “Show others my love so that I can heal them, free them, save them thru you. “Take what you received at this Holy Mass, namely, the Eucharist, which is my Heart, my Divine Love, my whole self and go out into the world and live for God alone and love others with my own Love alive in your heart. Do it for love of me.

Let us pray. St. John the Baptist, through your intercession, help us to have your same attitude, help us to have a humble submission to God and to live for Him alone. Help us with our lives to point out to others, the true Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. The one alone who has the power to free, to heal, and to save. Our Lady of the New Advent, through your intercession obtain for us the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us to open the gates of hearts fully at this Holy Mass in order that the Heart of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, may come fully in, in order to heal us, free us, save us. Amen.