Thursday, December 24, 2015

Let us not be afraid to offer our all to this little Child who is our Everything, this Child who has given us everything and everyone we have.

Christmas 2015

Oh Holy night…the night on which our Savior was born. On this Holy night the Virgin gave birth to the One who is called Emmanuel, which means God is with us forever. The little babe born on Christmas night was and is, as the beautiful song, Adeste Fiddles (O come all ye faithful) says, “God from God, Light from Light, He comes forth from the Virgin’s womb, Our True God, begotten not made….”

Jesus, The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity come to earth, sent by the Father, has become one of us. It has been said that in the birth of Jesus, God condescended Himself in order to reach down to man who could not and cannot lift Himself up to God. As St. Augustine put it, “The Son of God became a Son of Man so that the sons of men could become sons of God.” If Jesus would have been came into to this world has a rich powerful King, that would have been condescension enough; but if more than that, Jesus has come into this world as a poor defenseless little babe, born in a stable because their was no room for Him, not even in a Inn.

The first place God in the flesh became present in this world was in a barn filled with food for animals, along with the animals themselves and all the smells that go along with them. He was laid in a manager from which the animals ate their food, a sign that this Child would become the Bread to be eaten by men. In fact, the town of Bethlehem itself means “House of Bread.” Not only did God become one of us, but He is wrapped in swaddling clothes, signifying that He would die in order to be able to give Himself as our food in the Holy Eucharist,-the “Bread of Life,” food for our eternal life. In the Holy Eucharist we can say God is truly Emmanuel-God with us, because the Holy Eucharist is literally Jesus Himself, still on earth, still in the flesh, with us always.

On this night Jesus does not wish to remain laying in a manger. No, at this Holy Christ Mass and every Holy Mass, Jesus wishes to become our food in order to give Himself, and all that He is and all that He has in the totality of His love, to Us. He wishes to enter into the stable of our hearts through Holy Communion in order to be united with us in love. He then wishes to use us to take His light, love and mercy out into our world which is so desperately in need of Jesus and His saving and healing power. But first we must make room for Him in the inn of our souls.

To receive such a gift, in fact the Christmas gifts of all gifts, we must on this altar give Him the gifts of ourself, all that we are and all that we have in the totality of our love. He comes to us this night as a little child so that we won’t be afraid of Him who is the awesome, majestic and almighty God, who made the heavens and the earth and all things in them and who continues to keep all things, including you and me in existence.

Let us not be afraid to offer our all to this little Child who is our Everything, this Child who has given us everything and everyone we have. When we give ourselves completely to Jesus we lose nothing of ourselves but gain everything besides, for we gain God, we possess Him and are possessed by Him. O come let us Adore Him. Let us adore the Child Jesus truly, physically present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. Let us through faith, see His adorable face in the Holy Eucharist and come before Him in silence so we can hear Him speak. He alone is the answer to all of our hopes and fears through out the years. Jesus I trust in You!!!

Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is the reason for the season, but so to is Mary. Without her Jesus could not have become man; and so, without her we would not have Jesus in the Holy Eucharist-God with us. May we turn to the Virgin and entrust ourself to Her, so that she may present our hearts to Her Son. From Her hands He will truly accept us; and from her, we will receive the grace to live our lives united to Her Divine Child—Jesus, and make Him and His love present to all we meet. Amen.

I wish you all a very Blessed and Merry Christmas! May the Christ Child bless you and your families abundantly, may His Holy Mother wrap you in her mantle of mercy.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holy Mary, Mother of the Christ Child and so Mother of Mercy, pray for us, help us to offer our hearts totally to Jesus, may our heart and His become as one, for us and for the whole world. Amen

“Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste.” These words begin our Gospel today. And speaking of “haste,” and as it is so close to Christmas, I would wager most children wish they could have Christmas come with great “haste,” like, right now!!!

This week will certainly be the most hectic week of the year; finishing the shopping, preparing the meals, finishing the decorating, and the cards and gifts, the list is endless. We can certainly feel the pressure and the “haste” with which we will have to accomplish all that we have to get done before Christmas. And so it may also be the case, that we have not reflected much on, and so have not finished, our more important spiritual preparation for Christmas....maybe we are thinking, “I’ve got to get to confession this week!” Hopefully, this is what we are thinking if we have not yet made it.

We have to admit that many of the things we do this week will have to be done in haste if they are going to get done at all. But before we panic, let us again remind ourselves of what the season of Advent is all about and what; or should I say, Who we are really preparing for. Our Advent season is a time of expecting Christ to come, not only liturgically at Christmas, not only spiritually more deeply into the crib of our hearts, and not only at the end of the world or the end of our life which ever comes first, but also expecting and preparing for His second coming right here at this holy Mass and at every Holy Mass. For it is here, at Holy Mass, that Jesus comes again no less in the flesh than He did on that first Christmas night some two thousand years ago.

To help us prepare, in what little time we have left, today in our Gospel, we discover that our Lord often comes to us through a big surprise. In today's Gospel, we hear the account of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Elizabeth—the encounter of the two expectant mothers. For the two of them, their encounter was something that was not planned or even expected; it was a big surprise.

The surprise actually began when Zachariah the priest was offering the sacrifice in the Holy of Holies and St. Gabriel appeared to him, announcing that Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth would have a son in their old age (Not to mention that Zachariah even being chosen as the High Priest to enter into the Holies of Holy was a big surprise. Out of the tens of thousand of High Priests, it was improbable that one would be chosen in one’s lifetime). What a big surprise that must have been to see an angel, must less, St. Gabriel. In fact, poor Zachariah was so surprised he couldn't even believe what the archangel was telling him. After all, Elizabeth, his wife, had prayed for so long for a child, but remained barren and now was way past her child bearing years.

Yes, it was a big surprise from God, but Elizabeth had indeed conceived a child. So surprised was she, that she actually went into seclusion; you'd could almost image how embarrassed she must have been conceiving at such an old age. But there in seclusion, she was in for another big surprise from the Lord, when her cousin Mary came to visit. Mary too was with Child. And because of Mary's Child, surprisingly, the child within Elizabeth's own womb leaped for joy, as John the Baptist was sanctified, made holy, by the Christ Child while the two where still in their mother’s wombs. How big a surprise all of this was.

God had exceeded their wildest dreams and had fulfilled His Holy Will in these surprising events. In them, we discover that the heart of Elizabeth was open to the great surprise of God. After experiencing the surprise of the first Eucharistic procession, as Jesus was carried in to the presence of Elizabeth by a living monstrance—the Blessed Virgin Mary herself, Elizabeth exclaimed, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” In light of the surprises of God in today's Gospel, we can only imagine about all sorts of surprises that God is capable of doing in our own lives if we are open like Elizabeth.

As Christmas nears, we can all think about the big surprises we have had in Christmas' gone by And we all look forward, especially us who are kids at heart, for big surprise to come this Christmas. And even more we hope to surprise those we love with a special gift in order to show them how much they mean to us and how much we love them.

We, in our last days before Christmas, have the opportunity to be surprised, not only by our families, but by our Blessed Lord. Because He loves you so much, Our God this Christmas wants to give you as well, a big surprise. His surprises however, come in ways we are not expecting. In fact, they come in the ordinary and even in the mundane events of everyday life.

God’s surprises come in the darkness and the quietness of a womb; and in the darkness and quietness of a stable cave. His big surprises comes to us in a tiny little ordinary poor babe, who is at the same time the Almighty God truly among us as one of us. And finally, His biggest surprise of all comes to us at Holy Mass as apparently ordinary words are spoken over ordinary bread and wine and that same little babe of Bethlehem is born anew on this sacred altar--the bread and wine transformed, through the miracle of transubstantiation, into Emmanuel--God still with us—Jesus truly present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Perhaps because it was so ordinary, most people missed the birth of Jesus some two thousand years ago and so missed the biggest surprise of our God. So many sadly continue to miss His coming again at every Holy Mass. And so, the question is, are we prepared for the big surprise God wants to give you this Christmas and at every Holy Christ’ Mass. Is our heart open to receive it…Him?

It not's too late, there is still time, but let us make haste!!! Oh the surprises that Our Good God has in store for those who believe, adore, hope and love Him in the Holy Eucharist!!! It is the greatest surprise of all, the greatest gift of all, because it is the gift of Himself. May we accept more fully this gift by offering more fully the gift of our own heart in return—for this is the true meaning of the Holy Mass and of Christmas—it is meant to be the ultimate exchange of gifts, God’s heart gifted to us and ours gifted to His…in fact to be open, as was Elizabeth, to the Heart of Christ really means to offer our heart in return to Him—in other words, our hearts are only open to the gift of the Heart of Jesus to the extent that we trustingly and lovingly offer our hearts in return.

Let us turn to the Virgin Mother to help us. Holy Mary, Mother of the Christ Child and so Mother of Mercy, pray for us, help us to offer our hearts totally to Jesus, may our heart and His become as one, for us and for the whole world. Jesus I trust in Thee. Amen

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dear blog followers: I wrote this homily a few years ago after the killing of the small children in the Connecticut shooting. I think its message is very important in light of current events. I thought I would share it with you again.

We continue this third weekend in Advent our theme of hope. It is after all Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is taken from our first reading, which is from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Gaudete in Domino semper, iterum dico gaudete…Rejoice in the Lord always again, I say, rejoice.

In light of the tragic events this week it seems very hard to rejoice this weekend. We are indeed a country in morning. We pray for the families of those who lost their little children in the Elementary shootings in Connecticut as well as for the families of the adults that were killed as well.

For many, their hope has been shaken by the unspeakable horrors of small children being massacred by a deranged individual. After all, it is children who give us hope in this world…they are the hope of the future and we just lost 20 precious little ones. But this advent we are reminded of another little child, a child who is our hope personified. He is Emmanuel God with us…God with us even in the darkest darkness of this world, even in the midst of unspeakable horror and unspeakable sorrow.

Yesterday, I was speaking to a very nice lady. We began to speak about the tragic events that unfolded in Connecticut. I said unabashedly, that the cause of this evil was not the lack of gun control; stricter gun laws will not help us even though we will hear this as never before in the coming weeks and months. In fact more gun control will only take away our rights as law abiding Americans to protect and defend ourselves and our families; especially father’s right to protect and defend his family from evil men or even from evil governments. I told this very nice lady that the source of this evil is from the lack of peace in this world coming from the grave injustice of abortion and other crimes against life such as artificial contraception and homosexual acts and so-call Homosexual marriage.

When a country allows the killing of millions upon millions of little children in the womb, it is only a step before the killing of children outside the womb begins to increase. We see this happening more and more from little children being kidnapped and sold into prostitution in other countries, to children being abducted, then molested and killed and their lifeless bodies dumped into the woods, such as just happened to two beautiful girls in Iowa. Evil begets more evil. If we kill little children in the womb and ripped them limb-by-limb out of their mother, what’s to stop other evil from being done to children outside of the womb?

In my conversation I also pointed out how many times I hear married couples say that they are afraid and so don’t even want to bring children into this world. They say the world is such in such a terrible state that they question whether it would even be right to bring children into such a dark time. But this is the very problem; the problem is, is that we don’t have enough children. We have aborted millions and prevent millions of others from even coming into existence through artificial contraception and overall un-openness to new human life, to new human persons. And we are as a country, accepting more and more homosexual acts and “marriage” which are nothing by life-less acts which in no way can bring new life, new children, new persons, new hope into the world.

Children again are our hope; we need more children a lot more children, not less. And we need holy marriages, which rear these children and teach them the truth about God so that they can love him and adore him in this life and be happy with Him forever in the next. Thank God we have 15 mothers pregnant right now here at the parish—15 new lights of hope about to come into our world. Praise God there is hope!!! Indecently, there is a even greater crisis right now than a crisis of vocations to the priesthood; it’s a crisis of holy marriages which beget children some of who later become our priests and religious and our holy husband and wives who produce more children to adore God with their lives.

In this advent time and during Christmas we hear over and over the words of the angels to the little shepherds out in the field…Peace on earth good will to men. However the problem is, is this is not what the angel said…no, he said instead, “Peace on earth to men of good will.” That is peace on earth only comes to men of good will who promote true justice. And true justice begins with accepting the truth especially the truth about the Human Person made in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the Christ Child.

And so true Justice comes about by always accepting, defending and protecting the littlest and most venerable among us…and who is the most vulnerable if not little children in the womb who can’t escape from the butchers tools of unspeakable evil. Not a gun mind you, but a suction machine, chemicals, a force grip and a scalpel. Guns don’t kill people, any more than suction machines and scalpels kill people—only people kill people.

If we want an end to the violence we are currently experiencing in our country and our world, if we want peace, then we must in justice defend life, born and unborn, young or old, sick or healthy, mentally or physically disabled or not disabled, embryonic or completely developed human persons. We must do everything we can to protect the life of all human persons from natural conception to natural death, or we will never have peace…never! We will only have more violence and more war…for “Abortion is truly the greatest threat to world peace in our world today.” (Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta).

Recently our Holy Father in his Message for World Day of Peace said, “Peacemakers are those who love, defend and promote life in its fullness,” The pope noted that “serious harm to justice and peace” comes from denying the true principles of respect for life and promotion of the “natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”

Pope Benedict XVI, boldly stressed that pro-lifers are the ‘true peacemakers’ and that those who would support abortion promote a “false peace.”

The path to the attainment of the common good and to peace is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end. True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions, personal, communitarian and transcendent. Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life.
Those who insufficiently value human life and, in consequence, support among other things the liberalization of abortion, perhaps do not realize that in this way they are proposing the pursuit of a false peace. The flight from responsibility, which degrades human persons, and even more so the killing of a defenseless and innocent being, will never be able to produce happiness or peace. Indeed how could one claim to bring about peace, the integral development of peoples or even the protection of the environment without defending the life of those who are weakest, beginning with the unborn. Every offence against life, especially at its beginning, inevitably causes irreparable damage to development, peace and the environment. Neither is it just to introduce surreptitiously into legislation false rights or freedoms which, on the basis of a reductive and relativistic view of human beings and the clever use of ambiguous expressions aimed at promoting a supposed right to abortion and euthanasia, pose a threat to the fundamental right to life."

Along with principle of respect for life, the Holy Father spoke of the “need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.”

He noted that these principles are “not truths of faith,” but “inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity.” Efforts to promote them, he said, “are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.”

Other requirements for world peace mentioned by Pope Benedict include:

- “the dismantling of the dictatorship of relativism and of the supposition of a completely autonomous morality which precludes acknowledgement of the ineluctable natural moral law inscribed by God upon the conscience of every man and woman.”

-“for legal systems and the administration of justice to recognize the right to invoke the principle of conscientious objection in the face of laws or government measures that offend against human dignity, such as abortion and euthanasia.”

-“the right of individuals and communities to religious freedom.”
On the last point, the pope lamented the lack of religious freedom, even in Western nations.

“Sadly, even in countries of long-standing Christian tradition, instances of religious intolerance are becoming more numerous, especially in relation to Christianity and those who simply wear identifying signs of their religion,” he stated.

He urged that “at this stage in history, it is becoming increasingly important to promote” religious freedom “not only from the negative point of view, as freedom from – for example, obligations or limitations involving the freedom to choose one’s religion – but also from the positive point of view, in its various expressions, as freedom for – for example, bearing witness to one’s religion, making its teachings known, engaging in activities in the educational, benevolent and charitable fields which permit the practice of religious precepts, and existing and acting as social bodies structured in accordance with the proper doctrinal principles and institutional ends of each.”

It is important to note, that there is still hope for our nation, our society, our families and our world. I ended the discussion yesterday with the kind lady by telling her we can’t lose hope. But hope begins as always in the individual heart, our heart. For hope has a name and is with us now…It is Jesus Christ the Christ Child truly present with us daily both in Spirit and in the Flesh in the Holy Eucharist. This Advent reminds us that Christ has come, but he is coming again, not just at the end of the world but He is coming soon in His Holy Spirit to this world of injustice and sin; but He first wants to possess more fully our hearts.

In His Divine Mercy the Father as set a limit to how far evil can go. That limit is here; it is the final hour of God Mercy before the hour of His divine justice comes. It is not to late for us to become greater instruments of God Mercy so that the Holy Spirit through grace will purify our world. If we, not those out there, but we here present do not allow our Lord to come into our hearts more fully and completely then the Holy Spirit will purify the world by fire. By grace or by fire, either way, the purification of our world is coming and along with it the great era of peace that was promised by our Lady of Fatima, but it is up to us how it will come about.

The message of hope in this year of faith is that in faith, “we begin by speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells us in the Gospels and looking for him in those in need (Pope Benedict tweet) (and performing works of mercy toward them). “Our hope is based on the truth that, “we as believers are never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and His love is always faithful.” (Pope Benedict tweet) Daily, “we must offer everything we do to Lord, ask His help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that He is always with us.” (Pope Benedict tweet)

We can change our world into a world of peace and justice and love; it is not to late; there is still hope. Let us allow the little Christ Child to change the world by first changing us more and more into his own image and likeness; let us do this by consecrating ourselves to Jesus through our lady, giving Him everything through her, and offering Him daily, all our daily spiritual and material duties no matter how small and insignificant so that she can magnify them and make them an acceptable offering to our Lord. Let us in other words, offer Jesus ourselves and all that we are, have and do, all for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, all for the Immaculate heart of Mary, all in union with St. Joseph. Amen.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Advent is then a privilege time of grace and mercy to recognize that the greatest threat to the world, is not some great worldly power, not some evil empire or even evil terrorist; it is not the failing economy or threats to the environment; no, the greatest threat to the world is the People of God’s own infidelity to the Lord; that is, our own individual infidelity to the Lord and His Holy Will, and to His Holy Church and to her teachings.

Today we continue in our Advent Hope. And we pray that our Lord would quickly come and save the nations, including our own. We ask our Heavenly Father this Advent to stir up our hearts that we would ourselves prepare the way for the Lord, first in our own hearts and then in our parishes, our families, our community, our nation and our world.

A few years ago I read a serious of books on the Life of Christ by the Pope Emeritus, Benedict the 16th. In one of the series of three books, I don’t remember which one, the Pope quotes a famous Modern Jewish Scholar. This Scholar very honestly gives his own personal reasons for rejecting Jesus, as the Messiah whose first coming was foretold throughout the Old Testament. This scholar points out that the prophecies which tell of the coming of the Christ speak about what the world will be like after he comes. It will, according to the prophecies be a time of great peace among the inhabitants of the world…one just as to think of the great prophecy of Isaiah which speaks of the lion and the lamb laying down together.

Pope Benedict praises this Jewish scholar for both his honesty and his candor, not to mention his scholarship. The pope admits that given the situation of the world in our present day, it seems that this Jewish scholar does indeed have a point. But yet, the Pope mentions that Jesus does fulfill all of the prophecies and that there is a major difference between the time before Jesus came to earth and the time after.

The pope says that even though on the surface it doesn’t seem that the world is much different after Jesus, in reality it is entirely different. And this difference lies in the fact that now that Jesus Christ, the true messiah, has truly come, was born, lived, suffered and died and most importantly that He has truly resurrected from the dead, the world now has something it did not have before, now the world has hope. In Jesus, the world has hope, before His coming it had no hope. And so, the world has Hope not just in the fact that there is more than just this present world of suffering, pain and sorrow, of death, but that in Jesus the world has been redeemed, saved. Now it is possible in Jesus that this world can become a better place, that people can change, and most importantly, that souls can be saved from unending death.

This is the real hope that Advent brings, that in Jesus, in His birth, in His life and in His death, we can look forward to and begin already in this valley of tears, a share in the victory that is Jesus,’ A victory over sin, and so a victory over suffering and death..In this world we will have tribulation, yes, but be of good cheer, of good hope Jesus has truly overcome the world…Now we have hope in this world, and our Hope has a name, it is Jesus Himself.
In Jesus and only in Him can we defeat the evil in this world, only in Him can we defeat the true cause of that evil, and that is sin, which is ultimately man’s rejection of the Creator and God’s plan for man. Evil ultimately stems from Man not adoring with his whole heart, soul, mind and will, the Good God who created man and man’s world. Evil in the world is not God’s doing, but man, and any triumph of evil stems from man not entrusting himself to His loving Creator and obeying God’s commandments, especially the first which is to love, to adore the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”

Advent is then a privilege time of grace and mercy to recognize that the greatest threat to the world, is not some great worldly power, not some evil empire or even evil terrorist; it is not the failing economy or threats to the environment; no, the greatest threat to the world is the People of God’s own infidelity to the Lord; that is, our own individual infidelity to the Lord and His Holy Will, and to His Holy Church and to her teachings. God has fixed this! But now that fix has to be accepted by individual hearts, hearts open to God’s grace and mercy in order to be converted and so saved. The world has been redeemed by the redemption must be applied to each soul by the souls own free choice, to it’s openness shown by its repentance of sin.

Again, this is why Advent is time of repentance, a time of turning away from sin and time of turning back to God who loves each one of us so much; it is time to confess our sins, to amend our lives to the better in order to make way for the defenseless babe who was born into a cold evil world some two thousand years ago, but a babe who was the only begotten Son of the True and Living God sent into this world, not to condemn it but to save it from its sins, and to save it from its own destruction.

I would like to share with a quote from St. John Paul II the day after the horrific events on September 11th. 2001. It not only speaks of Hope, but it is also very appropriate considering the horrific events in San Bernardino California this past week:

Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it. (St. John Paul II, General Audience. Wednesday 12 September 2001)

In a few days, this Tuesday December 8th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother Saint Anne. It is a Holy Day of obligation binding on all Catholics in the United States; and this year, it begins a whole year dedicated to God’s greatest attribute, His Divine Mercy…It is truly a “Year of Mercy!”

Faith reveals to us the Immaculate Conception is a pledge of and so the hope of salvation for every human creature. It is interesting that in years past, for the Holy Mass offered on the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the priest did not wear white as he did and still does on the day of the feast. On the vigil the priest actually wore purple. Purple signifies hope and the Blessed Virgin Mary is the cause of our Hope.

Faith reminds us that by virtue of the unique privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary she is our steadfast support in our arduous struggle against sin and its consequences. In her Immaculate Conception she has become for us the very channel of the grace we need to love Christ and His Holy Church more fully and completely. She will, if we are loyal to her and love, she will obtain for us the grace to be loyal to, to defend and even to die for love of Christ and His Holy Church and for love of our parish family, thus showing our loyalty our love for Christ even to the point of shedding our blood for Him.

In Mary, with Mary and through Mary, Christ hastens to come to us more intimately, in order that He may live in us, through us and with us. She is the one who will help us prepare the way for the Lord in our personal lives, in our parish family, in our families and in our world. And through her, we who were not born immaculate, can be purified and made immaculate, as we hasten to meet Him. who has come, who comes and who will come again, Jesus our only hope. Through our praying of the rosary and our wearing of the brown Scapular as a sign of our consecration to her, she will help us give our hearts totally to God in order to defeat the present threats against us, and so usher in the greatest time of peace that the world has ever seen (As promised at Fatima. It will be the second greatest miracle since the resurrection).

Holy Mary, Mother of the New advent, pray for us, pray for our families, pray for our beloved country. —

Saturday, November 28, 2015

our world raises and falls dependent on our faith in the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. And our life, and our family life, rises and falls dependent upon our own personal faith in the physical Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the events, spoken about in today’s Gospel will come about from a lack of faith in the Holy Eucharist as the true and living God among us in the flesh.

Luke 21. First Sunday in Advent. November 29th, 2015

This weekend we begin the first week of advent. Advent is a privilege time of preparation in the Church, and in the hearts of her faithful members. Advent is actually, a penitential season; it is like a mini lent. In this time of advent, we should ask God to purify our hearts of our sinfulness and selfishness and fill them more fully with His Divine Grace. Advent should be a wake up call, a call for deeper repentance, a time for turning away more fully from our sins and our fears, leaving our anxieties behind and turning back in love more fully toward Christ and deeper trust in him. Advent for this reason is a time of great joy and great hope, great hope that God in His Divine mercy never abandons us, but is always ready to come to us again and again provide we turn to Him in repentance of our sins and sinfulness.

So if advent is a time of great hope, why is Jesus speaking about the terrible events in today’s Gospel-“…earths nations in agony…men dying of fear as they await the menaces of the world, and even the powers of heaven being shaken.” It would seems these words, far from increasing hope in Jesus’ coming, would fill anyone listening to them--including us, with great fear and great anxiety. Isn’t Jesus coming suppose to be about great joy and peace, but here instead, it seems it is about fear and anxiety. How is one supposed to get into the Christmas spirit after all this? Let’s look closer into this passage and its meaning for us today.

In today's Gospel, Jesus is pointing out to his disciples that when they see these terrible events he speaks about, they are not to become anxious or worried but are to raise their heads because their salvation is near at hand. Jesus is basically saying to them, “Keep your eyes focused on me, the one thing that matters and you will not become anxious or fearful for I will give you strength. Only those who fail to look up at me and keep their eyes on me will fall into despair and anxiety in the coming events, which will be caused not Me, but by men turning aways from Me.” Jesus is warning the disciples, saying “if you fail to pray to me and keep close to me, you will not have the strength to avoid the sinfulness of the world, and the destruction that will eventually follow as a result.”

Now how about us today? Jesus’ words to his disciples are just as valid for us, today, as it was for them. Our world is filled with much that takes our focus away from the most important thing, Jesus Christ and our salvation. In fact, maybe more so than in the times of the disciples. We all have so many cares in our lives, especially in these holiday seasons.

For instance, we had to work and worry to try to make Thanksgiving turn out perfect. And if that wasn’t enough anxiety, now we have to get ready for Christmas, which takes even more work and creates more anxiety. Any one who spent any time shopping this weekend knows there is a lot of tension out there, especially for those who were at the stores at 5:30 Friday morning. Now why shopping for the holiday or working to make sure the holidays turn or perfect, isn’t wrong in and of itself, should this be our main or only focus? Is this really keeping our heads up, and concentrating on what’s is most important?

All of this, including the craziness in our world day, the uncertainty of the economy and the ever looming possibility of another terrorist attack, this is all enough to cause anyone a lot of anxiety and out right fear. Some of you may be facing great personal difficulties, like a loss of a job or an illness with yourself or some one close. So in light of all of this, how can advent be at time of hope for us, a time for deeper trust in God?

Well, Advent can only be a time of hope if we take Jesus’ advice in today’s Gospel and put our advent preparations before all else, working harder at putting things back into proper order in order to make our relationship with Christ more first and foremost, so keeping our eyes fixed on Him. This begins by Making our Advent truly a time of by repentance, a time of staying more awake and keeping our heads up and focused more intently on Christ and on His Holy Catholic Church.
How do we do these things practically Speaking?

Well first we can make use of the frequent times of confessions during this advent season. If you haven’t been to confession for a while, I guarantee you life is filled with anxiety needlessly. Come to confession this advent season and your anxiety and fear will be lessened and you will find the peace your looking for. In confession you will also find the strength and grace needed to renew you prayer life in which you will receive the strength to handle the cares in you life.

And from Confession, we can spend quality time with Jesus truly present in the tabernacle. Faith in His true presence in the Holy Eucharist is the antidote to despair and the source of our Hope. In fact, our world raises and falls dependent on our faith in the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. And our life, and our family life, rises and falls dependent upon our own personal faith in the physical Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the events, spoken about in today’s Gospel will come about from a lack of faith in the Holy Eucharist as the true and living God among us in the flesh.

And finally, practically speaking, if we are not already doing so, we can make recourse to the beautiful sacramentals of the Holy Rosary and the Brown Scapular. These sacramentals when used and worn with faith provide us with the grace to be more open to the Sacraments. They in a special way ask our the Virgin Mary, Our mother, not only to protect us, but to help us to give our cares, our hearts, our everything, with great trust totally to Jesus through her. And so, the Rosary and the Scapular especially help us to participate fully and actively at the Holy Mass so we can interiorly place our heart more fully on the paten as an loving offering to the Father in union with the offering of Jesus on the altar for our salvation-this is how as today’s psalm says, “we lift up our soul to the Lord.”

If we use this time of Advent as a grace time of preparation, I promise we will have a peace that the world cannot give, peace that can only be found by keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ, the one thing that truly matters. This Advent is truly a privilege time of hope, a time that the Church reminds us, that only by keeping our eyes on Christ can we avoid despair as our world falls around us. Advent reminds us that Jesus Christ is truly Emmanuel-God with us, and fear and anxiety are useless. God will give us the grace to keep our heads up and look at Christ if we but turn our hearts to Him, and His Church and Her Sacraments, more fully this Advent season. In the end, even though our world may fall around us, Christ will never abandoned us if we love Him and place our trust in Him, He will give us true hope and that incredible peace that only he can give.

Let us together ask our Blessed Mother to help us to prepare our hearts this advent and to keep our eyes always focused on her Son, no matter what the world throws at us. Let us ask her to help us, beginning at this Holy Mass, for the grace to make this advent the best on of our lives, one of putting Jesus Christ and our relationship with him first in lives, in order that he may come into the crib of our hearts just as he came into that crib in the stable of Bethlehem 2000yrs ago. Our Lady of the New Advent pray for us. Amen. God bless you.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

For those who don't heed Advent's call to conversion before the sudden unforeseen end arrives, sadly, the advent of their lives will end in a life never truly lived, a live ending with dread, ending with the death of hope.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. November 15th, 2015

Today is really the last “regular” Sunday of the liturgical year, as next week we will conclude the Church’s liturgical year with the Solemnity of Christ the King and then we begin Advent. The First Sunday in Advent is the official beginning of the Church’s New Year.

Advent itself, is meant to be a time of hopeful and joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ first coming into the world at Christmas. However, when we begin advent in just a few weeks, you will notice that all of the Gospels, like today’s, far from joyful, take on an almost ominous theme, or one might even say, a gloomy frightening theme. This seems out of place, if you thing about it, I mean if in Advent we are preparing for such a joyful Feast as Christmas why the apparent gloom and doom. I think the answer to this questions lies in the fact that Advent isn’t meant to be just a preparation for Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s first coming, but it is much more. At a deeper level, it is really meant to be a preparation for Jesus’ coming again at the end of the world or the end of our lives which ever comes first. So explains the end of the world theme in our readings today and until Christmas.

In reality then, the end of the Church’s year also signifies the end of the world and the looking forward to Jesus second coming. So in these last weeks, before Advent, the Church already begins to emphasize the coming of Jesus in Glory, and the End Times. This reminds us that just as the Church’s year comes to a close, so too will our life someday come to a close.

And so, as we begin Advent, a time of preparation, reflection, hope and anticipation for the coming of the Messiah at Christmas, we should ask ourselves if we have fully used the “advent of our life” as a preparation for the coming of Jesus at the close of our own life--are we really ready to meet Him if He should come for us sooner than we expect? And not only that, Do we actually look forward to the end of this life with hopeful joyful expectation, the hopeful joyful expectation of little pure child waiting for Christmas and Jesus’ birth-His first coming? Or do we instead dread the end with fear?

The message of today’s Gospel, as well as the message of the coming season of advent, is that fear doesn’t have to have the Last word when we hear, contemplate and think about the end-even our end. In the book of Daniel, from which is taken our first reading, we are told that St. Michael, who is like unto God, will be sent to protect—and so hope is given,- “the wise will shine brightly,” we are told. In the Gospel, Jesus says, “I will gather the elect from the four winds.” Salvation will come. Jesus will come and Divine Mercy will be victorious over all sin and suffering, even over death itself.

Jesus has overcome our deepest fears. He has come to give us His mercy by taking away our sins and freeing us from fear for love. The wise then, are those who repent more fully of their sins and turn to God in total trust and all out love. This reveal to us that ultimately, it is our sin that causes us to be afraid, to be afraid of the coming tribulation, to be afraid of dead and judgment and ultimately even to be afraid of God. The Message of advent then, whether it be, the liturgical time before Christmas or the advent of our lives, is that God has come to save us by through His Divine Mercy, which comes to us through repentance and the forgiveness of our sins; so let us not be afraid. But for our part, in order to receive his mercy and so receive this hope, we must repent more fully, confess our sins more completely and with the help of God's grace amend our life; that is, change ourselves for the better.

Pope Francis on Friday reminded us that it is repentance that is the key to God’s Mercy (Pope Francis address to the Guardini foundation, Rome Friday Nov. 13th, 2015) In fact, during this advent, Pope Francis will begin a whole year dedicated the message of God’s Divine Mercy beginning on Dec. 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and ending at the beginning of Advent next year. Now is truly the time of God’s Mercy…and so now is the acceptable time of repentance (turning away from sin) and deeper conversion (turning toward God).

This Advent is really then a time of a decisive decision, a time of great action, a time for radical change. Are we going to continue to worry, hiding from God by hiding from the reality of our sinfulness and so stay in the grip of fear, the fear of what the future might bring? Or, are we going to repent more deeply and receive God's mercy and forgiveness by making a good and sincere confession and so live in the freedom of God's sons and daughters, free from the fear of what the future will hold, free to trust Jesus completely.

For those who don't heed Advent's call to conversion before the sudden unforeseen end arrives, sadly, the advent of their lives will end in a life never truly lived, a live ending with dread, ending with the death of hope. However, for those that heed this hopeful call before the end times, the advent of their lives will end in the fulfillment of hope-- the joy of the eternal Christmas of heaven and the ending love it brings, union with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, along with Mary and Joseph and with all God’s friends—the angels and the saints.

This is the great message of hope that this last “Ordinary” Sunday of the Liturgical year and its readings brings to us. It is particularly relevant in our current situation, which seems like the beginning of the end (it is not…but it is the end of an era in the world). This time of distress in this life is short; and so, those who are faithful should not grieve over the hardships of this present time, for a life of blessedness awaits them.

Let us then repent with our whole heart, in order to save ourselves and to find life. Let us glorify the Father of Truth, who sent the Savior, and through Him revealed to us the truth and the heavenly life--to Him be glory throughout all ages, forever and ever. So that “When, as Pope Francis also recently said, “when we think about the end, the end of our life, the end of the world, every one of us will have our end; when we think about the end, with all our sins, with all our history, let’s think of the feast we will be given gratuitously and let’s raise our heads. Therefore, let there be not depression but hope.” (Morning Meditation
St. Martha Guest House. 27 November 2014.)

At the end of Holy Mass as we pray together that wonderful prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, let us do so that he would protect us and our family in the future tribulation. Hail Mary, Mother of our Hope, Pray for us, St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, come to our aid. Jesus I trust in you.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"The priesthood is the very love of the Heart of Jesus" (St. John Vianney)

Mark 10;46-52 Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time-Priesthood Sunday. October 25th, 2015

Today we celebrate Priesthood Sunday. It is a time to celebrate one of God’s greatest gifts to His People. It is the priesthood that provides the means for us to grow in Faith, Hope and Charity.

When I think of the Father’s great gift of the priesthood I look back in my own life to those faithful priests that have revealed to me the Father’s love. I wish today to honor just a few of them and share them with you. I can’t help but be filled with incredible admiration and thankfulness to the Father for those spiritual fathers that offered their entire lives to Jesus Christ in order that Jesus could form them into His “other selves.” All in order that they could be His “living sacraments” to the world and lead you (and me), to He who is the Way , the Truth and the Life. I am sure as I tell you about some of the priests in my life, the priests in your life will come to mind as well.

I can remember that night, that terrible night in the hospital after finding out my best friend and dear wife Kathy, had terminal Cancer. It was that night that I began to realize the incredible power of the priesthood, a divine supernatural power that was Jesus’ own power working through the priest.

As I sat next to my dear wife’s bedside unable to cope with such devastating news, there came into the room a priest. He seemed to know just what I was thinking and asked me if I wanted to talk. This priest showed me the Father’s love-he was there when I needed it the most. This priest let me know that my wife’s illness was not God trying to get back at me for not going to church and failing to live the life that I should have been living. Instead, God was using all of this to offer me His mercy.

Then He told me of the Heavenly Father’s love for me and for Kathy, and that the Father wanted nothing else than to show us that love and draw us to Himself. This father patiently listened to me and let me cry out in my pain and sorrow. He heard my first confession, albeit a clumsy one and not very thorough, but nevertheless the first one in many, many years. And then the priest gave the Father’s infinite mercy and forgiveness in the absolution. Sadly, I don’t even remember this priest’s name.

Next came Father Kolfenbach, a holy, kind priest who my wife and I met after my aunt arranged a visit by father to my wife in the hospital. To this day, I don’t know what this holy priest said in his first visit with my wife. All that I know is that after he administered the Sacrament of the Sick with her, talked to her, & anointed her, her faith took off. She went from a young woman who was scared to death of the suffering and pain her cancer might bring, to an incredibly strong and brave person of faith, to the point of freely offering her life for others. After her encounter with this priest, people would visit her in order to cheer her up but they would be the ones who would leave the hospital strengthened and consoled in faith and hope and joy after an encounter with Kathy.

At her funeral Father Kolfenbach gave the homily and he spoke how when he visited Kathy, she would hold on to his hand. And when he went to leave she would say, “Father you can go, just leave me your hand.” He said at the homily, it wasn’t his hand she wanted to keep, but Christ’s own hand! Jesus literally touched her and healed and consoled her through the hand of the priest…the priest hand was Jesus’ own hand! This priest so spent himself for Christ and for others, even after he "retired" that he himself would die of cancer some two years after my wife’s death (one of the persons present at father's death was given a vision as father died. She saw Jesus removing his lifeless body from the cross and embracing it).

Then there was my dear friend and spiritual director, Fr. Gabriel. Father was there for me in the many dark and agonizing years after my wife’s death. He helped me to see the truth about why God allowed my wife to die. Father spent many hours during those years patiently listening to my frustrations and struggles. He helped me to see that God had a special job for me, one that I would never have even considered; nonetheless, this father helped me see that God was indeed calling me as well to be His priest.

How many other priests I could talk about with you today. I am sure many of you have your own stories of how priests have touched your lives. These priests that I mentioned served this member of God’s people, as well as countless others, extremely well. I honor them and all the priests that have had an impact on my life. I would not be here in front of you today if it wasn’t for their incredible lives of sacrifice. I can only hope that I can be half the priest that they were and are.
I also think about all the priest friends that I have today. I am humbled when I see their dedication and love for Christ, his Church and the People of God. I hear their joys and their pains and have seen their tears.

Even though one might think that the past scandals of a few have caused them much pain, more pain is caused by the indifference and the lack of understanding of some of the souls that they care for. They know that all priests are not perfect, much less holy, and they pray to God that they, themselves, may be always both faithful and holy. We too should pray for them that they always be holy and faithful.

These holy priests love the priesthood, not just because they are priests, but because they too, like me, have themselves been given the love of the Father through the many faithful and dedicated “fathers” that have been there when they needed them. They know the great gift of the priesthood by priests they themselves have come in contact with and also by the many incredible works that they see Jesus perform through their own priesthood. It hurts them when people don’t love or understand the priesthood, not because they are personally slighted, but because the office of the priesthood is slighted. They are hurt when people don’t see that there is a difference, not only in degree, but in essence between the royal priesthood of the laity received at baptism and the ordained priesthood.

The power of the priest does not come from the people, his authority is not given to him by a delegation of the community; the priest's power and authority comes from none other than God himself, given through the laying on of the hands by the bishop as successor of the apostles. In his Encyclical, Mediator Dei-The Mediator of God, Pius XII wrote the following speaking of the priest as the mediator before God:

"Prior to acting as representative of the community before the throne of God, the priest is the ambassador of the divine Redeemer. He is God's vice-regent in the midst of his flock precisely because Jesus Christ is Head of that body of which Christians are the members. The power entrusted to the priest, therefore, bears no natural resemblance to anything human. It is entirely supernatural. It comes from God himself. "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you [40]. . . he that heareth you heareth me [41]. . . go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mediator Dei. Pius XII)

At the Holy Mass only, only a validly ordained Catholic priest can act in the name and in the very Person of Christ, or I should say, can Jesus act in the person of the priest, in persona Christi et capitis (in the person of Christ, the Head). Because of ordination, there is an ontological change in the priest’s being and an indelible mark placed on his soul. This ontological change means that the priest is given a new capacity so that when the priest acts, it is Jesus Himself who is now able to act in, with and through the priest. When the words of consecration at Holy Mass are spoken by the priest it is actually Christ Himself who speaks these words through the priest. Or as John Paul the Second put it, the priest says these words; or rather he puts his voice at the disposal of the One who spoke these words in the Upper Room.

So the priest, and he alone, possesses Christ’s power to consecrate bread and wine changing them into the true body and blood of Christ (into God Himself); and the power to then to offer Jesus sacrificially to the Eternal Father on behalf of the whole Christian people, in order that the power of Christ sacrifice and resurrection would be made available to those same Christian People. And so, No priest--no Holy Mass, no Holy Mass--No Holy Eucharist, no Holy Eucharist--no heaven for anyone. (This is also true with all the sacraments. So that when the priest gives absolution, the anointing, or marries, it is Christ Himself who does so through the priest).

But this "in persona Christi et capitis (in the person of Jesus the Head)," is not just limited to the Sacraments. Even when the priest blesses, when he prays, teaches, when he visits the sick or even when he visits your home, it is Christ himself who actually does these things through, with and in the priest; and they could not be done with the same efficacy (the very efficacy of Christ), without the priest.

It is a strong sign of the great loss of faith in our age, when this correct understanding of what a great gift the priesthood is to all of us is not held and practiced by the very people to whom God has given the priest. This loss of faith results in people not honoring or even opposing the priest who literally brings the light, life and love of Christ to them; it is literally, "biting the hand of the one who feeds you." In this case, the one who feeds you the Bread of Life--Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

As we all honor those priests this weekend that have made an impact on our lives let us look for some ways to show them our love. I speak to myself as well as to you, because I too need to honor priests in my life that I depend on for the sacraments, especially that of confession. The priesthood doesn’t belong to me, because I am a priest, it is great gift for me as well as for you, so I too need to have great love and respect for it. Let us recognize that if not for the priesthood, there would be no Sacraments, no Holy Eucharist and thus no possibility of us receiving the Father’s love and forgiveness and no possibility for us to reach heaven. This is why St. John Vianney said that, “The priesthood is the very love of the Heart of Jesus.”

So, let us pray and offer up sacrifices for all priests that they may be holy and faithful priest. We all have a great responsibility to do so, and if we do not pray and offer our sufferings for them, then we all share in the responsibility when they fall, to the extent we don’t pray and suffer for them. Yes, there are those who have fallen, those who have even lost their faith and so teach something other than the Gospel. Then there are those who teach the truth but don’t live it. But there are, thank God, those who are holy and faithful priests. It is these chosen that literally bear the sufferings of the Crucified Christ on their person and in their lives…

So let us indeed pray for our priests and thank God for them and the great gift of the priesthood. Let us forgive those priests that may have failed us through their human weaknesses. Let us give true obedience to the priest as our spiritual father in Christ. The priest is more deeply a father to us than our biological father; our biological father gives us life, but our spiritual father gives us spiritual life, and so offers us eternal life. And let us pray that all people might see clearly the incredible gift of the priesthood of Jesus Christ that he shares with imperfect and sinful men like me.

If we pray for the priest, and don't condemn him or oppose him when he is trying to do nothing else than to be faithful to the dictates and teachings of the Church and Holy Father, then he, the priest, will have the strength and holiness to literally spend himself bringing you the graces, helps, blessings and love of God without which you cannot get to heaven.

If we pray for him and support him, then he, the priest, will have only one aim and ambition in his life, to ensure that the great marriage feast of heaven will be full. With your prayers and sacrifices offered to the Father on the priest’s behalf, he will be able to be a man apart, yet belonging to everyone. He will then receive your respect, your cooperation, your love, and your devotion. Have a place for him always in your prayers and heart, just as every one of you has a place in his prayers, in his heart, and in mine as well. God bless you! Holy Mary, mother of priests, pray for us.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

As we receive God in Holy Communion let us ask Him to possess our hearts fully in order that we can receive this true power, the power to love Him fully and to imitate Him by living our lives in sacrifice, serving Him and all of those whom he has placed in our lives, for their good not just our own; laying down our lives as a ransom for the many in love and for the glory of God.

October 18th, 2015. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary time. Mark 10; 35-45

Today we hear of two very different ways of thinking about what the “Kingdom” means. We just read the story of James and his brother John and their asking Jesus to be set apart or even above the rest of the apostles. They desire to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus when He comes into His Kingdom. Remarkably, Jesus accepts their request, but not in the way they are thinking. Jesus tells them, they will drink from the chalice, from which He will drink- which means of course they will drink, or share in Jesus’ suffering, passion and death, laying down their lives too, as a ransom for the many. At first, there is a real contrast between Jesus’ knowledge of the Kingdom and the earthly kingdom that James and John have in mind.

Let us start with the “kingdom” of this earth, how the world views the Kingdom. When we see James and John ask for a privileged position in what they believe is a worldly kingdom. We see in them the desire to be great, to be above others; it is the desire for power and control-to be served and not to serve. It as been said that money is the root of all evil, but I think that the root of all is evil is the lust for power. Money is just a means to obtain power; what desire lies at the heart of our fallen human nature the most is wanting others to fulfill our desires, to serve us, to do what we want.

Regularly we see that in our world, people are competing for power and control in our government, in business, in our places of employment. It can be very destructive, as often times others are used and mistreated in the climb to the top; if any one gets in the way, they are dispensable and even disposable. It is selfishness at its worst; it is evil; it is opposite of the Kingdom of God.

This lust for power makes others servants or better yet, slaves of those who hold the power. This abuse of power, then makes those who are lorded over very angry, angry to the point of rebellion. And in the spirit of rebellion they too want power, no matter what the cost, no matter who gets hurt or destroyed. The oppressed then begin to hate, and they in the end can become like those who oppressed them…they become what they hate.

This kind of behavior is not limited just to public life; it also invades our family life in our homes and in our parishes. The poor and sinful behavior of the world can affect us in our everyday life. We can unwittingly follow the example of people who desire power. We want members of our families and parishes to follow us, to serve us; we want to be the center of the universe. We can manipulate circumstances in our families, schools, work and parishes in order to get our own way. We then fail to take in account what would be best for our families, for our parish and best for the salvation of their souls.

Jesus answer to His disciples’ desire for power, for their desire to be served, is that, “His Kingdom is not like the kingdoms of the earth—it cannot be like that with us.” Jesus’ Kingdom is one of love; Jesus always loved those with whom he came in contact. His love was always reaching out to others…putting others before Himself. Jesus did not desire greatness, power or control; although as God, He had all of these things—Jesus desired instead to use His power to glorify the Father by perfect obedience to the Father’s Will carried out through obedience and loving service to others; a service which had to do with obtaining their salvation by becoming a ransom for the many.

In this Jesus wanted to show us the Father’s great love for us by the great works of mercy, forgiveness and healing that Jesus himself performed while He visibly walked on earth. However, to show us the fullness of the Fathers love, Jesus performed the greatest act of love possible, that of laying down His life on the cross for the sake of His friends-us. He would drink the chalice of suffering and death for our sake, in order to save us from eternal separation from God. He died so that He would be able to give us His total self so that we might live. This was the greatest act of service ever performed; the greatest act of charity ever performed.

Jesus showed his disciples and us that true power is the power of love. True service then, consists in truly loving God and one another in imitation of Jesus. And the essence of this love is sacrifice—of forgetting oneself, of denying oneself for love of Christ and for love of others in order to glorify the Father and for the salvation of souls, even to the point of suffering.

James and John ultimately learned this lesson. James drank the chalice of suffering, as he was beheaded as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. John drank it as the one who would be both priest-victim, offering himself along with the sacrifice of Jesus in the Mass. John, who lived to be very old, actually lived the Mass in his many sufferings and persecutions for the Church, for souls. In the end, Jesus did give both of these, his disciples, legitimate power; in fact the keys to the kingdom of heaven and earth; but for they part, instead of using it for selfish reasons, they used it to glorify the Father by “drinking of the Chalice of suffering” in order to bring the love of God to the entire world in order that souls could be saved.

The Kingdom of God, unlike the Kingdom of earth, is not about the desire for power and control, but it’s about Glorifying the Father, imitating Jesus out of love by serving others for their sakes not our own and for love of Jesus, Who is God. Today, like James and John, Jesus also invites us to drink from His chalice and to offer ourselves in love for Him and for others. Jesus may not ask us to do in great ways, like James and John, but he will ask us to do this in little ways throughout our ordinary daily life. Any way we can serve others, or deny ourselves in our homes, schools, work or parishes is an act of love; little things like being kind when we would rather be curt; setting aside what we want or what we think for the good of our family or our parish family; doing our daily duties well, on time or doing the hard things first, especially in our spiritual duties. Children can do this as well; being obedient to their moms and dads, or doing their chores before being told; being kind to their brothers and sisters even when you don't feel like it, saying their daily prayers faithfully. Anyway we can deny ourselves for love of God and for love of neighbor is a service of love, even in the smallest of ways, for Love is always in the details.

When we give ourselves everyday in service to others, which is another way of saying giving ourselves for love of others, it causes us to suffer a little, sometimes even a lot; it’s like being nailed to the cross with pinpricks. We should all serve each other in our families, in our parishes out of love and for the common good of all, doing everything not for the almighty me, but for the almighty Thee. This is the power of authentic love, not as a feeling but as a free choice.

When we really try to do put others before ourselves, to use our power to serve others, the fact is that we can feel our powerlessness to love. We then can become sad or frustrated by our families and we can lose hope that things can change, that we can change and become better. Jesus however, does not leave us alone. When he asks us to love until it hurts, he also gives us the grace, which is the power—His power to do so. He allows us to feel our weakness but only so that we know that it is only through His power that we can truly show our love for Him by loving and serving others.

This is the greatest of all power that we can possess; it is the power to love with Jesus’ own heart living and beating within our soul; this is the power of a Mother Theresa of Calcutta, of John Paul II, and of all the saints. Jesus desires us to be dependent on him, not only for loving him, but for loving others as well. Jesus teaches us that true service to others in love can only come when we do it primarily out of service and love for Him alone, and with his love and life alive in us.

If you are sad and depressed, turn to God, especially in the Holy Eucharist, ask him to help you to love Him above all things, and then go out and serve others, help others for love of God and I guarantee you, you will become happier, filled with joy. It begins here at Holy Mass. It is in the Holy Mass that we can receive true power, God’s own power, the power to serve and love Him by serving and loving others for love of Him. The Holy Mass is the summit toward which all the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fountain from which all her power flows (SC 10).”; it is the very fount of the power of Charity—a power, which can literally change the world.

Let us ask Jesus at this Mass to give us the true power, that is, the Power of His Love, available to us in the Holy Eucharist, which is His very Self, the God who is Love. The Eucharist is power beyond compare, beyond comprehension; it is infinite power, the very power of God; God Himself. As we receive God in Holy Communion let us ask Him to possess our hearts fully in order that we can receive this true power, the power to love Him fully and to imitate Him by living our lives in sacrifice, serving Him and all of those whom he has placed in our lives, for their good not just our own; laying down our lives as a ransom for the many in love and for the glory of God. God Bless you.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Homily for Mark 10: 17-30 Twenty Eighth Sunday. October 11th, 2015

Today we discover more fully that the demands of Jesus and His Gospel are high. But today Jesus seems to ask of us the impossible: “Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When we read this passage, if we look closely we can see something of ourselves in this rich young man.

Most of us have grown up Christian and we have been taught the Ten Commandments from our childhood. So, I think it’s easy for us to be very sympathetic with this young man. After all, he seems to show generosity- he seems to have a good and right intention- he certainly asks a wonderful question- what must I do to inherit eternal life? How many today, unlike this young man, just presume they are going to heaven and so don’t even bother to ask the question?

I think most of us would say that this young man is good and surely should be able to enter eternal life. However, Jesus’ response to him should be a shocker to us, Jesus says, “No! You have not yet done everything necessary to inherit eternal life…One thing is lacking, go, sell all that you have and follow me.” After Jesus’ response to this young rich man, I think it’s easy for us to feel rather despondent. I think this is natural. It seems that following the ten rules should be good enough. These demands of Jesus seem to be unreasonable… This points out a common tendency, a common way of thinking for us Christians.

It’s easy for us Christians to think like the following, “I am a good person, after all I haven’t murdered anyone, I haven’t robbed a bank. I try to go to Mass on Sunday, although those Holy days are just a bit too inconvenient for me. I may lie, but usually its only little whites ones. And I put my dollar in the collection plate when it comes around.” Unfortunately, with this attitude, we simply make lists of the good things we’ve done and so try to justify ourselves before God. In fact, this type of attitude does not require faith at all. Even an atheist can say it is wrong to kill or to steal. Living just by a set of rules is not living faith. Faith requires us to ascent fully to the person of God in Jesus and to follow His Commands because we love Him. The Ten Commands are not just a minimal list to follow, but are only the beginning of a greater list of the Ten Beatitudes—those things that by doing would perfect us in love and give us true happiness and freedom. Measure ourselves and our actions against a list of rules can be helpful, but it is not in and of itself love…for we just cannot justify ourselves before God.

This is the problem with this young man. He tries to justify Himself before God. He says, “I have done all these since my youth.” How many of us can say the same. However, Jesus says in a word, “no, you cannot justify yourself in front of me, only God is good, only God can justify. You have done only those things that every human being should do, whether he believes in me or not. Even the pagans do as much.” Jesus then goes straight to the root- “You must sell everything and follow me.” Ouch! Everything? Everything! Jesus reveals the truth; this young man had never really given himself to God. He really didn’t trust God and so he trusted in himself and adopted the “following--the--rules--type--of--behavior in order not to be punished. He really lacked faith. This of course is very minimalist and definitely does not show love. For example, a husband may not have cheated on his wife or killed her, but does he love her? Has he given himself completely to her, serving her in love?

So yes, the rich young man lived a good moral life, but he failed to realize, that Christ was calling him to not just live a moral life, but a life of faith, through a total self-giving love. Living a moral life is absolutely necessary, but love demands more, it demands everything—our whole self. Jesus is calling each one of us to return the gift of our life, our existence back to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, the only one who is truly Good, because he is God himself. The rich man in our Gospel today was not truly living the first commandment in the deepest depths of his heart, a commandment which demands one to adore the Lord God completely…totally…absolutely with self abnegation. Why, because true love demands a complete giving of one’s self to the beloved, a mutual total self-offering of one to the other. What woman wants a husband who will only give himself partway to her? Love holds nothing back, it gives all away to the beloved. Jesus demand on the young rich man and on us, goes far beyond just giving away material wealth. Jesus wants us to give away much more than our riches, He wants us to give away ourselves, all of our love—absolutely everything=TO HIM!!! This is the essence of true adoration and love of God.

So Jesus doesn’t demand that each of us immediately give up all our material possessions (we of course need some of these things to live) nor does He expect all of us to become a religious and live in a monastery. But He does demand that we give him everything in an act of adoration and that we use our wealth in such away that we do not forget the heavenly Father who gave us these possessions, showing Him our love and gratitude by sharing what He gave us, our wealth with those who are less fortunate than we. He does however, expect for each one of us to give up our wealth in this way; to give up thinking that we are independent, that we possess everything we need apart from God, to give up our pride, our hearts of stone, our opinions and most importantly our self wills. In this, Jesus wants us to become poor in spirit, realizing that everything, everything we possess is a gift—even our faith, even our very existence.

The gifts we receive from God are so vast and so generous. There will come the day however, when every single one of us, no matter how much or how little we possess, will have to do in a material way what Jesus asks; someday we will definitely have to give away even our material possessions. Each one of us we will have to give up everything we have at death, we can take nothing material with us. The only thing that we can take with us is our love for Christ or sadly our lack there of—the amount of love we possess at the end of our life, is the amount we posses for all eternity.

We like the young rich man can not justify ourselves, for God alone can justify us. The truth is in the end we are all poor, we are all sinners and in need of redemption and salvation through the blood of the cross. While it is true we will not be saved without good works, without following the Ten Commandments, our good deeds alone will not save us, only Jesus can save us. We have to detach ourselves from our self sufficiently and our stuff, and ask, beg Jesus for the grace to attach ourselves to Him, love Him above all things and trust in Him alone..

In our temptation to be discouraged (for we too like the rich young man have many possession), we should not let our face fall, give up hope and walk away sad. One of the Fathers of the Church, commenting on this passage, said that he believed that this rich young man may have been none other than St. John himself before his conversion. St. John walk away sad, but as he walked away began to reflect where true riches are really found. St. John later repented, sold all that he had and gave it to the poor and then came back to follow Jesus fully, giving his life totally and completely to God in loving sacrifice, remaining with Jesus faithfully even to the foot of the cross. Grace can indeed transform us, can indeed turn our hearts of stone into hearts for love alone.

It was at the cross that St. John gave everything he had and was to Jesus. He was able to do this because he made his offering to Jesus through Mary—totus tuus. Through Mary, John’s heart was elevated and united to the divine Love and Heart of Jesus-to Jesus Himself. In, with and through Jesus John become one with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. From that moment on it was no longer John who lived but Jesus who lived in him. He stilled lived but from now one his life was one with Jesus. Perfect love offers everything, everything to the beloved. We too must grow in love to the point that we like St. John offer everything, EVERYTHING, Jesus, in Total Trust

It is at the Holy Mass that we like St. John can offer our hearts, our everything, our riches to Jesus through Mary. Let us ask her to take our heart and place it on the paten and to do so with perfect trust in her Divine Son. She will help us to offer everything, to cut any strings that hold our heart from God. From her hands Jesus will accept our hearts as if they were His mother’s. Our hearts, our lives will then be transformed as we receive, truly, the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, our greatest treasure…we and our lives will then become living Icon’s of the Sacred Merciful Heart of Jesus. And through us, God will renew the face of the earth.

Let us end with this prayer:
"Heavenly Father, I thank You that my family has enough and more than enough. Help us use our possessions according to Your wishes. Help us to share with those who have little or nothing. Help us to support Your work in the world. Help us to put our trust in You and not in our bank book. Help us to be gracious with others as You have been generous with us." But most importantly, with the power of the Holy Spirit, help us at this Holy Mass to offer it all back to you, along with our hearts on this altar of sacrifice in union with the Heart of your Son Jesus Christ. Through the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Help us to open our hearts and souls to receive Jesus fully when we receive Him in Holy Communion. Then we will possess the greatest of all riches you our Go and Jesus Your only Son in the unity and love of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us offer this prayer as we offer the bread and wine asking our Father to accept our sacrifice of our riches, our hearts, along with the sacrifice of His Son which He has already accepted. God bless you.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"We as Catholics have not properly combated (the culture) because we have not been taught our Catholic Faith, especially in the depth needed to address these grave evils of our time. This is a failure of catechesis both of children and young people that has been going on for fifty years. It is being addressed, but it needs much more radical attention... What has also contributed greatly to the situation is an exaltation of the virtue of tolerance which is falsely seen as the virtue which governs all other virtues. In other words, we should tolerate other people in their immoral actions to the extent that we seem also to accept the moral wrong. Tolerance is a virtue, but it is certainly not the principal virtue; the principal virtue is charity... Charity means speaking the truth. I have encountered it (not speaking the truth) many times myself as a priest and bishop. It is something we simply need to address. There is far too much silence — people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not 'politically correct.' But we cannot be silent any longer."
Raymond Card. Burke

the Church and the Christian family, (and society itself) will only survive in those areas where the Church upholds boldly the nature and indissolubility of marriage.

Homily for Mark 10: 2-16 Twenty Seventh Sunday

Today in the Catholic Church in America we celebrate Pro-Life Sunday and the Fact that every human life must be protected, defended and promoted from Conception to Natural death…there is no life that is not worthy of living...born or unborn, weak or strong, poor or rich, sick or healthy, mentally or physically disabled, male or female. And this weekend, we also recall an important teaching on which the entire teaching of Life begins and rests: the sanctity of marriage.

In the Holy Gospel today the Pharisees question Jesus about the nature of marriage. They ask Him, “Is it legal to divorce your wife?” Knowing that they were just trying to justify themselves and trap Him, Jesus, points out that Moses only allowed divorce because of their hardness of heart. Jesus reminds them and us that in the beginning it was not so.

It is important to realize here that the condition of women at the time of this Gospel was ignominious. In other words, women were basically deprived of all human dignity and rights and were seen merely as the property of their husband and nothing more. Even slaves were considered higher than women; it was Christianity that would change this injustice.

And so, a woman could be merely set aside by her husband for virtually any reason whatsoever, with no recourse. The husband could then remarry but the woman could not and so she became despised and shunned by society, treated no differently than a leper. This is why Moses insisted that the husband give the wife a certificate of repudiation--a bill of divorce. By insisting on this, Moses was not giving his stamp of approval to divorce, far from it, but he was acting to protect the woman. Moses wanted women who were dumped by their husbands to be free to marry again so that their condition would not become even worse than it already was.

Jesus takes this opportunity to affirm the nature and the indissolubility of marriage as God originally intended at Creation. By quoting Genesis, Jesus recalls the Pharisees and the world to the original intention of God for man and for woman, for husband and wife, when Jesus says:
“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, man must not separate.”

Jesus, the Lord of Creation, declares, not only the nature of marriage between one man and one woman, but as well, that the unity and indissolubility of marriage had been established from the very beginning. This teaching so surprised his disciples that when they had Jesus alone, they ask him to explain it again. And so Jesus reinstates it even further, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery’. The disciples respond by saying, “Then it is better that one not marry.”

John Paul II in the Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World) re-echoed these words of Jesus when he said,

It is a fundamental duty of the Church to reaffirm strongly…the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. To all those who, in our times, consider it too difficult, or indeed impossible, to be bound to one person for the whole of life, and to those caught up in a culture that mocks the commitment of spouses to fidelity, it is necessary to reconfirm the good news of the definitive nature of that conjugal love that has in Christ foundation and strength.
Being rooted in the personal and total self-giving of the couple, and being required by the good of the children, the indissolubility of marriage finds its ultimate truth in the plan that God has manifested in His revelation; He wills and He communicates the indissolubility of marriage as a fruit, a sign and a requirement of the absolutely faithful love that God has for man and that the Lord Jesus has for the Church.

The Pope here is upholding that constant teaching of the Church that a validly consummated marriage results in a bond that can only be broken by death. It must be so because marriage is the image of the bond between Christ and His Mystical body-the Church; that is, between Christ, the bride groom, and the Church His bride. And Jesus will never divorce His Church nor will He divorce either one of us for that matter.

Many couples use today’s Gospel in their wedding, as they pledge their love to one another for a lifetime. Everyone participating in the wedding, hopes and prays that the couple will be able to do this and most especially us priests pray for them. There is probably nothing that saddens and frustrates parish priests more than seeing marriages fall apart and end in divorce. All of our parishes, all of our families -- including priests' families of origin -- have been affected by divorce and family break-ups. We see couples so angry with each other that they can barely speak to one another. We see one or more of the couple completely devastated, facing pain almost as bad as losing a spouse. We see parents and the rest of the extended families upset, and treading on eggshells, not knowing what to do or what to say. And the saddest of all is seeing the faces of little children involved in a divorce.

Now, of course no one these days -- not even the Church -- will counsel people to stay in a marriage if there is physical abuse involved. Nobody deserves to get knocked around. And sometimes a civil divorce (sad as it is) is necessary. And of course, the Church admits there are marriages that were invalid at the very beginning; marriages that began with an impediment, a wall which prevented the two becoming one validly in the eyes of God--that’s why there are such things as annulments. (An annulment doesn’t annul a valid marriage, but only recognizes the marriage was invalid in the first place.) But too often, too many times, the situations -- which almost always include some form of emotional abuse -- those situations which lead up to a divorce, had they been dealt with in time, could have been changed, and the marriage saved. But the work of healing must begin sooner rather than later.

Too many couples are under the impression today, that once all the preparations and work for the wedding is over, then they can simply relax and live happily ever after. Wrong. Marriage is work. Marriage is very hard work. The two people involved are bringing all their personal baggage, their two families’ baggage, varying cultural expectations, and their own lack of perfection, along with them into the marriage. It takes work and time for them living together -- within the safe framework of marriage, not outside of it – to learn to get along; to know what the other is trying to communicate verbally and non-verbally; to make mistakes, and to learn from them. And if the marriage does begin to take a turn for the worse, it takes more work in marriage counseling to get things back on track.

I have worked with a group called Retrouvaille that assists couples in healing their marriage. I have seen marriages in terrible shape find reconciliation and forgiveness. The couples work very hard and the process takes time and energy. The marriage does not get into trouble overnight nor is it healed overnight. One of the amazing things that these couples discover in this whole process of healing is the very roots of their problems; the very root of their problems is their not knowing, understanding and not following the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality and marriage. They realize that so many of their problems were caused by a failure to be chaste before marriage, a failure to be open to life in each and every marital act and failure to recognize the great dignity and sacredness of the marital act-(an act that is only for procreation together with the good of the couple). They realized that they just didn’t know or understand what marriage is really for, what the purpose of sex is for. They realize that the first duty in marriage is to help one another get to heaven, and then to bring God’s children in to the world and help them get to heaven. As one person said, “I realized that, the first thing Jesus is going to say to a married couple when they face him on the Day of Judgment, “Did you help your spouse get to heaven, and secondly, “did you help MY children get to heaven.” He won’t say, “your children,” He will say, “MY children.”

In their rediscovery of each other and their marriage, the couple learns that Christian marriage is not just a social institution, but it is really a supernatural calling and vocation. It is more than a contact or an arrangement between two parties that can be broken if either ones does hold up their end of the agreement, instead marriage is a covenant, literally a exchange of persons who come together by swearing an oath before God in which one says to the other, I give myself totally & exclusively to you, I lay down by life for you, I love you as my other self, so help me God!

In this, they realize that Marriage takes three. When it is lived with Christ, in His truth, and through the divine power of His Sacrament and grace, marriage, then and only then, becomes holy and thus life giving to the couple, to the children and to the whole church and world. With Jesus, He fills the souls of husbands and wife and invites them to follow Him fully. He transforms their whole married life into an occasion for God’s presence on earth and witnesses to His “un-breakable-covenantal love.

The key to healing and forgiveness in marriage and in the family is a humble, childlike attitude. We have to change, we have to allow our Lord purify us and heal us…we have to repent and confess our sins…this is humility. We have to confess our sins not only as individuals but even as couples and as whole families, coming together as a family to the beautiful, healing and restorative Sacrament of confession. Our Lord only invites the children who are humble to come to him-not the prideful.

The nature of Marriage as between one man and one woman and the indissolubility of marriage are the foundations of the family. And Family is the primary vital cell of society itself. And in a way, it is also the vital cell of the Church itself. In fact, the Church and the Christian family, (and society itself) will only survive in those areas where the Church upholds boldly the nature and indissolubility of marriage. The Church and her ministers know that marriage has a sacred status that must be upheld. And they know that the family which begins with marriage has a sacred status which deserves the veneration, protection and the attention of all its members, of civil society itself, and of the entire Church.

Let us today ask our Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist to help us to live by the high demands of the Gospel. With the high demands also comes the help from on high, the grace, to live it, if we only receive the truth with a humble, Childlike faith. Let us end with these beautiful words of John Paul the II:

According to the plan of God, marriage is the foundation of the wider community of the family, since the very institution of marriage and conjugal love are ordained to the procreation and education of children, in whom they find their crowning.(34)
In its most profound reality, love is essentially a gift; and conjugal love, while leading the spouses to the reciprocal "knowledge" which makes them "one flesh,"(35) does not end with the couple, because it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift, the gift by which they become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother.
When they become parents, spouses receive from God the gift of a new responsibility. Their parental love is called to become for the children the visible sign of the very love of God, "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.”

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

“Who do you say I am?

Mark 8;27-35. Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. September 13th, 2015

In the past couple of Sundays, Jesus has shown us his authority as the Son of the true and living God. Last week he demonstrated His divine authority by curing the deaf and mute man, and the week before, he showed us His divine teaching authority. Jesus was showing His disciples these things to teach them about who He was and still is. These signs which show forth the truth about who Jesus is, are not just for show, they demand a response from every single human person.

So Jesus poses the central question of today’s Gospel and really of our faith: “Who do people say that I am?” Why does Jesus ask such a question—one so seemingly obvious we have to wonder if it is worth asking? The variety of the responses given—John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet—reveals that the answer is not so clear, and that even those closest to Jesus really aren’t sure who he is. Yet, it is crucial that we personally answer Jesus’ question, and that we, each one of us, come to understand more deeply who He really is. For the way that we regard Jesus determines the way that we relate to Him as well as respond to Him.

Your see, if Jesus is merely John the Baptism, that is, just a moral instructor who tells us to “be good”, then we will look to Him only for instruction on moral formation that is how we should act. But if he is only that, only one who tells us do that or don’t do that, then he doesn’t have the power to help us “be good, much less to become perfect, that is to love perfectly.”
If he is merely Elijah, then we might regard Jesus merely as a mystical figure who speaks of the end times, but not the One who is supposed to come again to Judge the Living and the dead. As a result, He really has no relevance in our current times, in the here and now, only sometime in the far off future.

And if Jesus is merely a prophet, then He is only one spokesman for God among many, and not God in the flesh, not God among us, not God Himself, not Truth Itself. And if Jesus is not Truth itself, then His truth is just one of many “truths.” His truth is, in other words, just His own personal opinion or notion of “truth.”

Therefore, Jesus’ question to us today, “Who do you say I am? _ is really a challenge that prompts each one of us to probe our own preconceptions, our assumptions, our own ideal, and labels of him. In light of the this unavoidable question we discover that we just cannot make Jesus to be what we want Him to be; He cannot be made to fit who we think He is or should be… In other words, it can never be about who Jesus is for me, but about who He really is!!!

The truth is, is that we really do need to know more fully who Jesus is, in and of Himself, not who we think is, but WHO He truly is. Our idea of Jesus must be purified by grace, it most grow in knowledge by study, because Jesus is not our idea of Him. This is so important because Jesus is Truth and we cannot know truth unless we know Jesus. To know Jesus is to know the Truth, the full truth, the absolute truth, the unchanging and unchangeable truth. Unlike other religions, our Catholic Faith is not based just on the teachings of the founder, but on the founder Himself.

It is only by knowing Christ that we can know His truth, his teachings and vice versa. If we do not know Him, He who is Life, then we want to have life our own way instead of the way of God. We then end up doing our own thing and become disobedient to God, thus losing our way, because we have lost the truth and so risk losing our eternal life.

But additionally, if we do not know the true Jesus but only a construct of our mind, then we cannot truly know ourselves. That is why, in giving our response to the question of “who Jesus is,” we can discover the answer to another very important question: Who do we think we are? Only Jesus Christ can reveal to us who we truly are. Just as it is our friend who really reveals to us ourselves, even more so it is our divine friend Jesus who reveals us to ourselves. Christ is the Light of World and only in this Light can we see ourselves as we are, as He created us. In fact, only Christ can reveal the true beauty and dignity of each human person, and he does so by inviting us to discover who He is, true God and true man, our Way, our Truth and our Life, the very source of our being.

In our Gospel today, it is Peter who makes the declaration: “You are the Christ-the Messiah.” But what does Peter mean by such an assertion? To claim that Jesus is the Christ requires that we must give up our mistaken ideas about happiness, power and salvation. Later in Mark’s gospel when Jesus is arrested and crucified we see others beside the apostles who fail to understand Jesus, the Messiah's true nature. For example the high priest who interrogates Jesus and the people who taunt him on the cross; they all posses a wrong understanding of the Messiah and so miss who it is they are dealing with. In fact, their only concern is what the Messiah is going to do for me, politically, materially, worldly, but definitely not spiritually and eternally.

So important and necessary is this need to understand Jesus’ Messiah-ship that Jesus even rebukes Peter, the rock, for trying to hold Jesus back from the ultimate meaning of Messiah-ship; that is, a ruler who would suffer the agony of the cross in order to teach men the truth about love so that they would imitate Him in that love, sacrificing oneself for the sake of one’s friend. Peter is rebuked because he is only judging Jesus by human standards. IN other words, Peter is judging Jesus according to how Jesus is suppose to live up to the popular notion of who and what the messiah should be—according to the Gallop poll of what and who Jesus should be.

Once we know the truth about Jesus’ Messiahship, then and only then we can fully embrace the truth about ourselves and live in a way that is in accord to that truth, for Jesus is the Truth. That is why the next thing Jesus does is “summon the crowd’ and inform them of the three prerequisites for true discipleship:-1) denying self or holy self-forgetfulness; 2) picking up one’s cross; and 3) following Him.

Without deny, without holy self-forgetfulness we end up remembering things about ourselves that only lead us away from Christ. With holy self-forgetfulness we forget our own ideas, opinions, feelings and take on the mind and heart of Christ, and of His Church.
Despite its arduousness, we take up the cross of Jesus in order to be saved from taking on things that would otherwise destroy us. We die to self and begin to live for Christ alone and others for love of Him. And we follow in Jesus’ footstep to avoid pursuing our own damning will and whim. We pick up our cross and live according to His truth, to His commands, to the teachings of His Catholic Church, and thus we find true freedom, true happiness and the fullness of life.

To follow Christ then is more than just being good, obeying the law and the teachings of the Church. It is these things of course, but Jesus wants us to live according to His truth not out of compulsion, but out of our desire to love Jesus and in loving Him to obtain Him, He who our hearts are restless until they rest in Him. To know Jesus Christ as He is, is to fall totally, madly in Love with Him. To know Him is to realize this love of His, He Himself, is available to us through the power of the Sacraments of His Holy Catholic Church. In fact, only there we will find His power, the power of His love to live according to His truth, not out of coercion, but freely;

It is in the Sacraments, especially in the Holy Eucharist, that we will find the true Jesus, the One who can touch us, heal us, save us. To the person who is in love, there are no burdens in carry out that love, only the desires of the heart to please the one we love. NO matter what we lose in the process in living for Jesus alone, we end up gaining everything, for we gain Jesus Christ our only happiness, the only fulfillment to our every desire, to our happiness and to our life.

Let us ask His Blessed Mother at this Holy Mass and at every Holy Mass to help us give Jesus the offering of ourselves, of our life, of our families, of our possession, of our everything….Let us give her our heart so that she herself can place it on the paten next to the host. Receiving our heart from her hands, Jesus will accept it as if it was hers, and allow it to be transformed into His own image and likeness so it will be accepted by His Father as if It was Jesus’ own heart. She will obtain for the grace to live out our life offering in every detail of our daily live, to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow her Son. She will then use us as her little ones in order to renew the face of the earth. Amen.