Sharing Our Faith

Reflections from Father Mike, Parochial Vicar


Fifth Sunday in Lent

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. What a great family for us to ponder. Mary was the sister who loved to listen to Jesus. Martha was the sister who loved to serve others. Lazarus was the brother who was ill. For no family is consistently perfect. All families have struggles and challenges. Each of our families, from the smallest to the largest are similar to Lazarus’s family. They all have people who like to listen, people who like to serve, and people who are sick. In the midst of our family struggles, prayer can be of great comfort. We can offer up those who are in need, through our prayers. Yet, how often we tell our Lord what he already knows. He knows who among us is sick. He knows our illnesses in deeper ways than we know them. Yet, our Lord loves us in the midst of those illnesses. That poses an interesting question for us to ponder. Do we believe that all illnesses have an ultimate purpose? That is, it is to be used for the glory of God, like our Lord said Lazarus’s illness was. Some of our illnesses do lead to death and they are certainly sad. Yet all illnesses can also be vessels of the glory of God. For everything, even illness, can be a means for God to mediate his graces. For seeing someone with an illness, can cause our hearts to soften, our compassion to be stirred, and forgiveness to be exercised. Yet in Lazarus’s illness our Lord delays. Which sounds very similar to many of the stories of our lives. So, why doesn’t our Lord drop everything he is doing and rush over to Lazarus’s aid? Did he not realize how in need he was? For if he loves us, why doesn’t he respond immediately? Those can be the questions we demand of God and of each other. Have you noticed that it seems, it is not the people who respond most urgently and most anxiously who love us the most. Often, I wonder if the people who are willing to drop everything and help us are the ones least equipped to help. Sometimes I wonder if the friends who help us the most are those not driven by the urgency, the biggest hurry, those who are not the most anxious, those who do not panic. Sometimes I think the ones who love us the most sometime are the ones who take longer to arrive than others. So, it was with our Lord, for he heard the news, and he waited a couple days to respond. I read an article the other day that discussed our Lord’s delay. The article said, it was not because he did not love Lazarus that he delayed. It was because our Lord’s strength did not need to respond according to our urgent schedules and anxiety. Our Lord took action when it was best. We also see when the time to move and take action has arrived. For our Lord does move and take action to help Lazarus. Yet when he decides to return to Judea, to help Lazarus, he encounter resistance. His disciples try to prevent him from taking action. As many of us have already probably experienced, there will always be people around us who give us reasons against taking action, against fulfilling our vision. Some are, our closest family and friends. So, when we take action, are we always supposed to take the path of least resistance? Our Lord shows us the answer is no. For he walks straight back through the areas of Judea where they once tried to stone him. Yet, he does not let that fear take control of his actions. Yet, our fears and insecurities can cause us to freeze and not take action and to seek the path of least resistance. For often we think that if only God were involved, if only we were closer to him, then things would have gone our way. I think Martha and Mary also thought this way about their brother’s death. Thinking that we wouldn’t be in this hardship if Jesus had responded more quickly. They love Jesus, but I think they believe that our Lord really came to fulfill their own personal, and immediate desires. How often, that is what we can also feel, which is not correct. Our Lord did not come to take away our pain. He came to go through pain himself. He came so that all of us could live through pain to new life. Yet through all of Mary’s, Martha’s, and Lazarus’s pain and struggles, our Lord also wept, like we often do. This tells us something very powerful about him. For our Lord, the Son of God, knows pain and sorrow, and is moved, and greatly disturbed by it. For to truly love, means to be able to be moved by the needs, pains and sorrows of others. Love causes our heart to move to express compassion for those in need. Our Lord loved his friend Lazarus. Yet some bible scholars question if he wept because Lazarus died or was there a deeper reason. Some believe our Lord did not weep because Lazarus died. He wept because even raising someone from the dead after four days of decay, would not convince them. He wept because so many would choose not to believe, and would not accept his great gift of salvation. Their hearts were so hardened, that even witnessing this great miracle would not soften their harden hearts. The raising of Lazarus is not just bringing a dead man back to life, but is a powerful symbol of the new life that all of us can have. We each have the opportunity to grow in this new life when we submit our hearts and wills to our Lord. Yes, it’s hard to do, but take some time each day to reflect on our Lord’s great gift of his love and mercy. Don’t reject it like many of the Jewish leadership did. This lent, let our Lord call us to come forth from our tombs, of ego, pride, self-centeredness, so we can be truly awakened. Share this priceless gift our Lord has given each of us by helping others to grow deeper in this precious relationship with our Lord. Help them to come forth from their tombs through prayer, forgiveness, kindness, and loving compassion. Then together, we can turn and leave behind all those things, which hinder and bind us from being truly who God wants us to be.


Fourth Sunday in Lent

Have you ever wonder if the younger son was surprised when his father gave him his inheritance. To ask for it, is not like asking for an advance on your allowance. The son is basically saying to his father, I don’t need you, but I just want your stuff. The son, by asking for his inheritance has separated himself from his father and family. It would have been different if the young man had asked for money, to travel and to see the world. Or even to seek to study abroad like many students do now a days. Yet, he did not ask for those, so what he asked for is very significant. Their relationship has now changed. The younger son has rejected and dishonored not only his father and family, but the entire community where he grew up. He has hurt, shamed, and rejected them. The son has in a way, has burned his bridges which makes it hard to return. If he did return, he would most likely be met with rejection. I wonder if his older brother, the slaves and hired-hands, and most of the community probably thought the son was making a permanent one-way trip. They probably thought they would never see him again. Everyone, that is, except his father. Throughout all this, his father does not say anything. He does not question why his son is leaving. He does not even ask where he is going. He does not even argue with him or get angry. He does not even try to prevent him from leaving. He does not even tell him how much he loves him. He simply divided his property between his two sons. We might often think of this story as one about sin. The younger son, the bad son, runs away and does many not so good things. The older son, the good son, was always at home, and he never disobeyed. So is the moral of this story, that we are to be like the older obedient slave-like son to his father? The one who blindly obeys and never questions. I wonder at times if this story is really even about the sons. I wonder if this story is more about the father than it is about the sons. Could this story be more about love, kindness, and patience than it is about sin. After listening to this story, I wonder if either son truly loved their father. For the younger one shows he does not love his father very much by his outward actions. While the older one is silent, yet he dislikes his father and hold internal resentment towards him. So, that raises an interesting question. Based on our own personalities and behaviors, which one are we like in this story. Are we like the sons who have resentment towards others, whether expressed outwardly or just held inside where it festers. Or are we like the father who does not express his emotions and does not tell others how much they mean to him, or how much he loves them, but just remains silent. Have you noticed that it is usually not until loss and heartache hits us that we can come to realize our mistakes and then we seek to try to amend them. I think the father however, over time, realizes that love is the only real way home. I think that is why the father runs to meet his son. He runs to him to protect him from some of the ridicule and taunting of the community, when they see the wayward son returning. He goes to him to support him by helping to see him safely home. His father shields his son from some of the embarrassment of his return. The father places a fine robe on him, and also sandals and a ring. He over and over recommits himself to his wayward son. Helping his son to know that through all this, he is still loved and cherished. Even though the father may struggle in finding the words to express his love for his son, he still tries. Our heavenly father, like the father in this story also patiently waits for all of us, his wayward children to turn back to him. So, what kind of feelings did we have in our hearts when we heard the father forgive and accept the returning son? Were we happy or did we have mixed feelings? We can often yearn for forgiveness for ourselves from our Lord because we believe we deserve it. Yet we may want a more specific form of justice against those who fall short in our own estimations. Do we at times act like the elder brother as we view others who have sinned, as unworthy and they are clearly less worthy than ourselves. For when we think this way we demonstrate our lack of faith in our Lord’s ability to judge for himself who is worthy and who isn’t. Do we at times act like the younger brother who celebrates in his return, is so self-focused that he does not even go and seek out his brother to repair their broken relationship. Or do we at times act like the father who so focuses on his younger son that he never even notifies his older son that his brother has returned and to come see him. These ways of thinking are wrong. Our Lord calls us to focus on the needs of others, more than our own needs. This is what our Lord modeled for us by his life. We should never look into the hearts of others and judge them worthy or unworthy of our love or compassion. Let us strive a little more each day to love and forgive. For true love seeks the best for those that we love. Pray and ask our Lord to help us to forgive. To forgive our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends, and even ourselves. Don’t let the weight of unforgiveness keep us from loving as God calls us to love. To truly love without limits. So, we to can thus celebrates with our heavenly father the return of every one of his precious children.


Third Sunday in Lent

Have you noticed that it doesn’t take much effort these days to bump into tragedy. We don’t have to look very far to see bad news. In our day and age, we are so much more aware of the bad stuff in our world than ever before. We can see the old journalism saying is true: if it bleeds, it leads. We see numerous public tragedies in our world. Yet this speaks nothing of the personal tragedies we all experience. We are often weighed down by these, and they can even penetrate our dreams and keep us awake at night. In today’s readings we encounter people asking Jesus whether God sends tragedy to us, as a means of his judgement. He responds to their questions, by telling them a story about who God really is. His story involves a vineyard owner, a fig tree, and a gardener. The fig tree, isn’t doing what it was supposed to do. For fig trees are supposed to produce figs, yet this tree wasn’t. It was not following the rules of a fig tree. So, the vineyard owner comes in, angry at the tree for its lack of production, and calls for it to be completely uprooted, chopped up and used for firewood. For it does nothing, but take up space, wastes the soil’s nutrients and the owners time. It wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, and the vineyard owner was tired of all the taking. The owner wants a fig tree that is a maker, a producer, and not just a taker. Yet, through all that the fig tree is saved by an unconventional gardener. How often we think that God is the vineyard owner, the one who is angry at our sin, our lack of production, our lack of fruit. How often we can think of Jesus as the gardener, standing between us and an abusive father’s rage, saying, give them one more chance, one more year to get their act together. I pose a slightly different interpretation for you to ponder. So, how would your view of this story be, if God is not the vineyard owner? I pose that the vineyard owner is the wisdom of the world. For the world measures our value in how we are following all the rules, if we are doing what we are supposed to. It is the wisdom of the world that says that our value is in how much we can produce for the vineyard owner. How much profit we can make for the person in charge, how much we can put out, for our families, churches, and communities. The wisdom of the world doesn’t value lament, and it considers tears and weeping a weakness. It is the wisdom of the world that says if you are not a maker, then you are a taker and are good for nothing. This is the kind of mentality that promotes mercy killing, honor killing, and even euthanasia as a just solution. It sees no value in suffering, pain or even failure. Yet how often we can learn a lot from our mistakes and failures. I bet we all know someone in our family or friends who seems to learn more through struggles than accomplishments. It is the wisdom of the world that sees such a vulnerable fig tree and demands that it be uprooted and throw into the fire. We should be thankful that God is not the vineyard owner. Rather, God is the gardener. He is the gardener who says no to the wisdom of the world. He is the gardener whose love rejects the wisdom of the world. He is the gardener who is not going to uproot us when life seems to have sapped the life from us. God is the gardener who is also going to get down there with us, in the dirt, in the places where it smells and stinks and gets overwhelming. Our Lord, the gardener says, I care enough to get dirty. For I am with you through the tragedies and violence of the world. Our Lord is also saying, in the midst of life’s tragedies, don’t look to place blame on the victims of violence, the victims of hunger, the victims of poverty and suffering. When we see suffering and tragedy, don’t seek a convenient place to put the blame for it, and don’t put it on God. If we want to find God, in the midst of violence and tragedy, just look where the suffering is. For he is there suffering with us. Our Lord in his Incarnation has come to be with us, to walk with us. So, don’t shake our fists at the heavens when we are mad and frustrated. Just look at the earth, at the dirt, and feel it with our hands. For that is what the gardener is doing. For it is there where God is, with us in the midst of it all. In this parable of the fig tree, our Lord is telling us, that when we feel the most hopeless, worthless, and lifeless and unable to produce fruit, is when God is the closest to us. He isn’t going to leave or forsake us or even cast us into the fire. Our Lord calls us to abandon our image of God that sees him as an angry vineyard owner, who sows and reaps tragedy. This Lent let us repent by saying we are sorry, but also let us repent by standing with those who are suffering. Our Lord wants us to do exactly what he does with us. That is to enter into the suffering of others and suffer their suffering, by helping them to carry their cross.


Second Sunday in Lent

It’s so tempting, when we think about the transfiguration to think of it as a ‘mountain top’ experiences with God. The kind of experience we can get after going to a retreat or even to a concert. We often hope that we will all have these experiences of God, in a dramatic and powerful kind of way. Some people spend their whole life wishing for an experience like this with God. Yet when it does not happen, we wonder why and often we can get disappointed, disheartened, or even depressed. These awesome encounters of God are rare even for saints such as St. Peter. I don’t think this story of the transfiguration is there to tell us we can all have a “mountain top” experience with God. I think it’s there to help us to see who Jesus really is. This lent we are all called to be transfigured from our sinful behaviors into a deeper image and reflection of Christ. When we profess our faith in our Lord, we hope to be transfigured into someone worthy of eternal life. Yet as this gospel reading shows us, our human nature is so unprepared for this outcome. We see in our beloved Peter, many of our own behaviors and actions. He who would one day have the keys to the Kingdom placed in his hands by Jesus himself, was totally unprepared. He was not ready for the truth of our Lord’s divine life revealed in the transfiguration. Yet even with the disciple’s limitations, it seems like our Lord lets them peer behind the curtain, to see who he really is. To be mesmerized seeing him talking with Moses and Elijah, who are both dead, yet vividly alive in a way that is hard to comprehend. Yet, we can see in Peter’s response, a reflection of our own response. For his way of responding is so much like us. In midst of all this, Peter decides he needs to do something. I wonder, if Peter were here today, if he would have tried to take a picture or maybe even a selfie. I bet many of us would have tried something similar. A way to remember, to capture a unique transforming moment in life. Peter’s response here is so classically human. Rather than fully participating in the moment, and reflecting on what is happening. He looks for some service to perform. At that moment Peter chose doing, instead of being. Just like Martha chose doing and Mary chose being. Yet he probably did not realize that his service project would have taken him away from the moment. He would have to leave the transforming moment and travel to find the materials to build the tents. If only he had just sat there in the presence of God. To spend some time in adoration of the God he has been journeying with each day. So, that raises an interesting question. How are we open to a transfiguration? Lent calls us to prepare, yet as lent goes forth, we still may not have prepared ourselves very well. In fact, we may still only have a dim sense of what it means to be transformed this lent. One of the significant details I noticed of the transfiguration is that it occurs in the context of prayer. Prayer is not merely speaking words to God, but is a truly spiritual experience with God. Prayer should be seeking the powerful presence of God in our lives. Our transfiguration should challenge us to seek something higher in prayer, than speaking mere words hoping that God might listen to us. Another significant detail in this dramatic experience of Christ’s glory, is that it calls us to listen and follow obediently. In our faith journey, we may experience “mountain top” moments, spots when we find ourselves on holy ground, where God may reveal himself. Yet we are also called to listen to our Lord, which means paying attention to his teachings with openness, being receptive and having a desire to respond. It means being attentive to the message of the Gospel and seeking ways to apply it to our daily lives. It means that when we have other influences attempting to tell us what to do, we instead listen to the gentle voice of our Lord. It also means that when we make decisions, we choose to follow the guidance of our Lord and not the other forces at work in our lives. Take some time this lent to prepare ourselves to experience our Lord in a new and extraordinary way. Don’t settle for the normal and mundane, but seek a powerful personal encounter with our Lord. Remember he is as present to us here in the blessed sacrament as he was walking and talking with his disciples. Be bold, pray, ask that our hearts may be transformed so to love as our Lord loves. O Lord, who have commanded us to listen to you, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, that, our eyes and ears may be made pure, so that we may rejoice to behold your glory present in our lives.


First Sunday in Lent

I was reading an article the other day, about our Lord’s temptation in the desert. The author raised an interesting perspective, which made me think, when he said: What if Jesus had said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it?” What if he had turned just one small stone into a small loaf of bread? He’s hungry, famished. Why not fill the emptiness? Not a feast or even a big loaf. No butter. Just a little something to get him by. What if he had accepted the glory and authority of all the kingdoms of the world? They are rightfully his anyway. Don’t the ends justify the means? Why not free fall into the arms of the angels? After all he is the beloved son. What if Jesus had said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it?” Would Jesus have been less beloved? Would he have no longer been God’s Son? Would Jesus have been a failure? These challenging questions raised by the author of this article sure can sound like idle speculations, but they’re not. Our Lord may not have said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it,” but I bet all of us here have said “yes, I’ll do it”. Oh, how often we hunger for triple A Not the insurance, not the baseball league, but we all hunger for attention, acceptance, and approval. We all I suspect, have found the emptiness, restlessness, boredom, and that sense that our life may seem to have no meaning and may not be going where we want it to. We may not have turned a stone into a piece of bread but we’ve likely filled our emptiness and hunger with something not very nutritious and life-giving. Most of the time we fill this hunger with something other than what we know God would want for us. When we look deep inside ourselves, we discover that we often only want a little something to get us by. A little something to fill the loneliness, and to satisfy the hunger. But over time we come to realize that it doesn’t satisfy. It never does. It only gets us to the next fix. Our Lord’s temptations in the wilderness are not all that different than our temptations. The wilderness is not so much a place, as it is a situation. Many times, like our Lord we are sometimes left alone with our thoughts, concerns and worries. Like, who am I? What is my life about? How will I get through this? Like in Jesus’s time, in the wilderness, there is usually a voice that is quick to offer an answer, an idea, a way. Jesus was tempted just like we are. The difference is that he said no, while we often say yes. In that moment of decision, where we give into temptation are we less beloved of God? Are we somehow less God’s sons and daughters? Are we a failure? What if we ask these questions differently. If we had said, no to temptations, would we be more beloved by God? Would we be more a child of God? Would we have passed the test and we would be a spiritual success? Whether Jesus said yes or no, I feel did not determine his sonship, or how beloved he was. Our temptations, our struggles in the desert, do not determine how well God know us, but it helps us to come to know ourselves. For in struggling with our temptations, we begin to know ourselves. That as Christians, we are filled with and are to be led by the Spirit. Temptations are not a pass-fail exam, but they help us understand ourselves. For example, if we strive for the virtue of patience, God allow us to come to know how we are doing, by allowing challenges in the area of patience for us to overcome. It is in these challenges, these temptations that we have the opportunity to rise above the challenges and live the virtue. Every temptation we encounter is an opportunity for us to rediscover, affirm, and claim our identity as a beloved child of God. How we respond to temptations, whether with a yes or no, tell us something about ourselves. They offer information about who we believe ourselves to be, and whose we believe we belonging to. Temptations reveal where we place our trust, how we see the world, and even our way of being towards others. In facing our temptations, we can discover our true hunger and emptiness. We can come to know where our hurts are and see how we act out in our woundedness. We can also discover more about our weaknesses and we can also become more self-aware. With each temptation we are offered the opportunity for a new life and a new way of being as beloved children of God. So, can there is salvation without temptation? Can we obtain a virtue, without a struggle? Can we experience true love, without true freedom? It is in our temptations, where we can sometimes come to know our gifts better. Oh Lord, help us to discover where our hurts and woundedness lie. For it is in our weaknesses, that we come to know our need for you. Oh Lord, come and awaken the hearts of your children. Draw us on to you oh Lord, and cleans us of all that blinds or spirit. Oh Lord, remove the burden of pride from our hearts. Kindle in our hearts, a desire for you alone. That someday we may hear you say to us, you are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.


Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Can a blind person, guide a blind person? Yes, they can, and we see it all the time. This helps to explain why our society is so messed up. We see so many spiritually blind people leading others to build a world where the achievements of mankind are at its center. This is an incorrect and backwards approach, for we should have God the creator of all life at its center. When we place mankind before God, we are just like the rebellious people of Moses’s time who made mankind and earthly things as their idols. Have you noticed in our world today, everyone seems to be following someone, or something. Yes, even Catholics who go to daily mass each day, can be following blindly different things in their lives. We have to be careful and wise in what we follow. For human pride can be one of the things that can cause the most blindness. For when we follow the blindness of pride, it is so easy for us to judge our neighbors, while not recognizing our own faults and weaknesses. We need to reflect on our own lives, so we can understand where we stand in God’s eyes. We should try to strive each day to look upon others, as kindly and compassionately as our Heavenly Father does with us. It is very common in our families, communities, and churches, how we all like to guide and correct one another. I think it gives us a bit of a power trip. For power trips can even cause us to defer from looking closer and deeper into ourselves. By not looking deeper, we are more likely to be quick to see and to point out the flaws in others. I believe we all know people who seem to always look for faults in people, instead of looking for the good. This can be a major tension point in a marriage. Our Lord knows that we have weaknesses, yet knowing all this, he loves us even more. In this love, he invites us to look deeper inside ourselves to become more aware of these areas, which can cause us blindness. Areas where we can easily view ourselves, as better than others. If we struggle looking out at the world and finding what is to be praised and blessed, maybe we need to look inside ourselves. For by doing this we can see more clearly what is hampering us, from recognizing how we may be blinded to the work of God in others.

We should also take courage in how our Lord said that even, just and righteous people fall many times. Even though our perspective may not always be the best one.  Even though our view of ourselves and of the world, may need correction. Our Lord still loves us and wants to help us. He seeks us to let go of our pride and to allow him to guide us. Take comfort also in knowing that our Lord fell while he carried his cross. He showed us by his example that we to should not reject the help of others as we carry our crosses. Pray and bring ourselves before our Lord. Allow him to love us and to heal us from all our blindness. Ask him to remove any speck or plank that may be in our eyes. Pray for the clarity of vision that our Lord had. For it is in humility, that we come to realize that our perspectives may not be the best one; our view of ourselves and of the world may need correction. When our Lord tells us to hold off criticizing others, until we have fixed ourselves, he is really trying to tell us not to criticize at all, because we are never fixed and always prone to error. Oh Lord, help us to be more aware of our inadequacies, so that we may become gentle in dealing with others. Oh Lord, grant us the ability to recognize our own shortcomings which can be turned into graces, through prayer. Oh Lord, it is in who we are, not what we say and do, that counts. For when we are in love with you oh Lord, with our whole being, then our words, actions, and deeds will reflect your love. So, when people see and encounter us, they will see and encounter you oh Lord.


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The gospel reading today is one of the most extraordinary writings.  It seems to totally reverse our human thinking about enemies and forgiveness. It describes for us the way God goes about things, holding nothing against us despite all our failings. This is how our Lord lived, thus showing us by example the right path.

Our Lord shows us the language we need to use to live and reflect the importance of our relationships to one another. We are to interact with our neighbors, mindful of how we ourselves have received the good gifts of mercy and forgiveness from God. When we find ourselves having difficulties with others, it is good for us to pray that we come to know our own faults. We should also pray for others, that they may receive the graces needed to reflect our Lord’s love within their lives.

Our Lord challenges us again by turning our thinking upside down. We are called to Love our enemies, which is so contrary to human nature, but that is what He asks of us. For He asks us now to bring our enemies into our hearts and show mercy to them. When we do this, they no longer are strangers to us. Our Lord also invites us to interact and respond to our world as He did. He calls us to practice living our lives filled with love, kindness, prayer and forgiveness. We are all called to do this, not only where there is something which we approve, but in all circumstances.

Take some time this week and ask our Lord to remove all ways in which we view others, which causes us to distrust, to judge, to condemn or to hold back. Pray for patience to endure any difficult circumstances and pray for courage to be able to confront them the best we can. Our world can be transformed if we take our Lord’s message seriously. Our task is to work with Him and to live each day with a greater love than we had imagined possible.

Let us each spend some time reflecting on how merciful God is to us, even though we are sinful and often ungrateful. Oh Lord, give us a compassionate heart that we may pause before judging and condemning our enemies, so then we can respond with love.

Séptimo Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

La lectura del evangelio de hoy es uno de los escritos más extraordinarios. Parece revertir totalmente nuestro pensamiento humano sobre los enemigos y el perdón. Nos describe la manera en que Dios hace las cosas, sin tener nada en contra de nosotros a pesar de todos nuestros defectos. Así vivió nuestro Señor, mostrándonos, por ejemplo, el camino correcto.

Nuestro Señor nos muestra el lenguaje que necesitamos usar para vivir y reflejar la importancia de nuestras relaciones entre nosotros. Debemos interactuar con nuestros vecinos, conscientes de cómo nosotros mismos hemos recibido los buenos regalos de misericordia y perdón de Dios. Cuando nos encontramos con dificultades con los demás, es bueno para nosotros orar para que lleguemos a conocer nuestras faltas. También debemos orar por los demás, para que puedan recibir las gracias necesarias para reflejar el amor de nuestro Señor en sus vidas.

Nuestro Señor nos desafía de nuevo dando la vuelta a nuestro pensamiento. Estamos llamados a amar a nuestros enemigos, lo cual es muy contrario a la naturaleza humana, pero eso es lo que Él nos pide. Porque Él nos pide ahora que llevemos a nuestros enemigos a nuestros corazones y les mostremos misericordia. Cuando hacemos esto ya no son extraños para nosotros. Nuestro Señor también nos invita a interactuar y responder a nuestro mundo como lo hizo. Él nos llama a practicar vivir nuestras vidas llenas de amor, amabilidad, oración y perdón. Todos estamos llamados a hacer esto, no sólo cuando hay algo que aprobamos, sino en todas las circunstancias.

Tómese un tiempo esta semana y pídale a nuestro Señor que elimine todas las formas en que vemos a los demás, lo que nos hace desconfiar, juzgar, condenar o frenar. Ore por paciencia para soportar cualquier circunstancia difícil y ore por valentía para poder enfrentarlos lo mejor que podamos. Nuestro mundo puede ser transformado si tomamos en serio el mensaje de nuestro Señor. Nuestra tarea es trabajar con Él y vivir cada día con un amor más grande del que habíamos imaginado.

Cada uno de nosotros dedique un tiempo a reflexionar sobre cuán misericordioso es Dios con nosotros, aunque seamos pecaminosos y, a menudo, ingratos. Oh Señor, danos un corazón compasivo para que podamos hacer una pausa antes de juzgar y condenar a nuestros enemigos, para que podamos responder con amor.


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

It seems like whenever we are going to buy something, we always check its price to establish its worth. I believe it is important for us to recognize our own true worth. To recognize how valuable, how pecious we are to the LORD. It is important for us to know our worth, our value in God’s eyes. For far too many people base their self-worth on earthly things. For example, we can base our worth on how other people treat us, what they say about us, what accomplishments or achievements we have attained, what type of house we live in, what type of car we drive, or even how much money we have in our bank accounts.

It is so easy to get caught up into thinking that we are only worth what others say we are worth. It is important for us to remember that our value is not based on what we do, what we have or even who we know. We tend to overlook things especially when it comes to what we are worth in the heart of our Heavenly Father.

Our Lord had to face the same challenges we do about our self-worth. Scripture tells us that there were times that even His own family doubted His worth. Members of His own family thought He was crazy. Our Lord had to deal with all those things. Yet, He understood that in His Father’s Eyes He was valuable. He did not need the approval of other people.

Our Lord reached out to those no one else wanted to be around and those that people looked down upon. He reached out to those who were hurting and suffering emotionally, socially, financially and spiritually. He reached out to those who were being marginalized and those who were being shoved to the side. By reaching out, He was showing them that their Heavenly Father believes that they had value, that they were priceless. He shows us that we are worthy of His time, His attention and His healing.

Life will do its best to cast us down and cause us to doubt ourselves. Life will try to convince us that we are for the most part worthless and insignificant. Let us today share the understanding of our worth. Let us come daily in prayer to receive our Lord’s strength and encouragement. For we are all called to share the Good News with all those we meet. For the whole world needs to hear that God loves them, He values them, and so do we as well.

Sexto Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

Parece que cada vez que vamos a comprar algo, siempre verificamos su precio para establecer su valor. Creo que es importante para nosotros reconocer nuestro verdadero valor. Reconocer cuán valiosos, cuán pecaminosos somos para el SEÑOR. Es importante, para nosotros saber nuestro valor a los ojos de Dios. Porque demasiadas personas basan su autoestima en cosas terrenales. Por ejemplo, podemos basar nuestra valía en cómo nos tratan otras personas, lo que dicen de nosotros, la realización o logros que hemos alcanzado, en qué tipo de casa vivimos, qué tipo de automóvil manejamos o incluso cuánto dinero tener en nuestras cuentas bancarias.

Es tan fácil quedar atrapado en el pensamiento que sólo valemos lo que otros dicen que valemos. Es importante para nosotros recordar que nuestro valor no se basa en lo que hacemos, lo que tenemos o incluso a quién conocemos. Solemos pasar por alto las cosas, especialmente cuando se trata de lo que valemos en el corazón de nuestro Padre Celestial.

Nuestro Señor tuvo que enfrentar los mismos desafíos que nosotros hacemos sobre nuestra autoestima. Las Escrituras nos dicen que hubo momentos en que incluso su propia familia dudó de su valor. Los miembros de su propia familia pensaron que estaba loco. Nuestro Señor tuvo que lidiar con todas esas cosas. Sin embargo, entendió que en los ojos de su padre era valioso. No necesitaba la aprobación de otras personas.

Nuestro Señor se acercó a aquellos que nadie más quería estar cerca y aquellos a quienes la gente menospreciaba. Se acercó a aquellos que sufrían y sufrían emocional, social, financiera y espiritualmente. Se acercó a aquellos que estaban siendo marginados y aquellos que estaban siendo empujados a un lado. Al llegar, Él les estaba mostrando que su Padre Celestial cree que tenían valor, que no tenían precio. Él nos muestra que somos dignos de su tiempo, su atención y su sanación. La vida hará todo lo posible para derribarnos y hacer que dudemos de nosotros mismos.

La vida hará todo lo posible para derribarnos y hacer que dudemos de nosotros mismos. La vida tratará de convencernos de que somos, en su mayor parte, inútiles e insignificantes. Compartamos hoy la comprensión de nuestro valor. Venimos diariamente en oración para recibir la fortaleza y el ánimo de nuestro Señor. Porque todos estamos llamados a compartir la Buena Nueva con todos los que conocemos. Porque todo el mundo necesita escuchar que Dios los ama, Él los valora, y nosotros también.


Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I know many of us have probably been in situations where things did not go the way we desired. This can be frustrating and can easily cause us to question our efforts and can even cause us to want to give up, to throw in the towel. We see this type of situation also play out with Peter. He fished all night and caught nothing and was tired and probably disheartened. He may have been worried about where his next meal might be coming from, what he did wrong, maybe even doubted his ability as a fisherman. We see in Peter, our own human weaknesses played out. How often we strive to do things totally on our own. We strive to do it the American way, with our own true grit. 

 

Our Lord calls each of us to let go and to leave behind our doubts and fears. He calls us, like Peter, to trust in Him even in situations that seem hopeless. He calls us to let go of human reason, and to allow our Lord to do the impossible. When we turn to our Lord and trust in Him, He will challenge us, so we can grow in love and trust of Him.

He will take us into the deep waters, where we may fear to go, but much good can take place there. We saw Peter go with our Lord into the deep waters and they found a rich harvest. This rich harvest is also among the rocks and thorns, which can be intimidating and not easy for us to get to.

 

With that said, be not afraid to allow the Lord to lead you. Open your heart to Him, and trust in Him. Allow Him to stretch you out of your self-made comfort zones. We may not always understand everything, but that is ok, for that is where faith and trust intersect.  When we allow our Lord to take us out into the deep waters, our faith can be strengthened, for we need to rely even more on Him. When fear creeps in, just reflect on Peter, for he was not in the deep waters alone, for our Lord accompanied him along the whole journey.

 

Quinto Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

Sé que muchos de nosotros probablemente hemos estado en situaciones en las que las cosas no fueron como las deseábamos. Esto puede ser frustrante y puede hacernos cuestionar fácilmente nuestros esfuerzos e incluso puede hacer que deseamos rendirnos, tirar la toalla. Vemos que este tipo de situación también le sucede a Pedro. El pescó toda la noche y no atrapó nada, estaba cansado y probablemente desanimado. Puede haber estado preocupado por saber de dónde vendría su próxima comida, qué hizo mal, tal vez incluso dudó de su habilidad como pescador. Vemos en Pedro, que se cumplieron nuestras propias debilidades humanas. Con qué frecuencia nos esforzamos por hacer las cosas totalmente por nuestra cuenta. Nos esforzamos por hacerlo a la manera nuestra.

Nuestro Señor nos llama a cada uno a dejarnos ir y dejar atrás nuestras dudas y temores. Él nos llama, como Pedro, a confiar en Él incluso en situaciones que parecen desesperadas. Él nos llama a dejar de lado la razón humana y a permitir que nuestro Señor haga lo imposible. Cuando nos dirigimos a nuestro Señor y confiamos en Él, Él nos desafiará, para que podamos crecer en amor y confianza en Él. Él nos llevará a las aguas profundas, donde podemos tener miedo de ir, pero mucho bien puede ocurrir allí. Observamos a Pedro ir con nuestro Señor a las profundas aguas y encontraron una rica cosecha. Esta rica cosecha también se encuentra entre las rocas y las espinas, lo que puede ser intimidante y no ser fácil para nosotros.

Dicho esto, no tengas miedo de permitir que el Señor te guíe. Abre tu corazón a Él, y confía en Él. Permítale que lo extienda fuera de sus zonas de comodidad creadas por ti. Puede que no siempre entendamos todo, pero eso está bien, porque ahí es donde se cruzan la fe y la confianza. Cuando permitimos que nuestro Señor nos lleve a las aguas profundas, nuestra fe puede fortalecerse, ya que necesitamos confiar aún más en Él. Cuando el miedo nos invade, sólo reflexiona en Pedro, porque no estaba sólo en las profundas aguas, porque nuestro Señor lo acompañó a lo largo de todo el viaje. 


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parochial Vicar Reflections

The people of Nazareth had an agenda. Their agenda influenced how they interacted with people, and how they viewed a situation. We too have different agendas within our lives. Some of them are spoken, while others are unspoken. For example, “What are your plans for today?” We can ask because we truly care and want to know. There are other times we ask, because we already have our own plans, our own agenda, and we are just trying to figure out when and how we can accomplish our own agenda.

When our agendas have a common theme, amazing things can happen. Our relationships can deepen, our love can flourish, our faith can grow deeper, and many other good and productive things can happen. Yet, how often we tend to think first of our own needs, before others. There are times that we view ourselves above others before God. We do this anytime we see our group as more deserving than another of God’s goodness and grace. We do this anytime we feel entitled, to the exclusion of others, of God’s life and love.

When we live this way, we are living like the people of Nazareth. The ones who sought their own way of doing things. They did not want to see things from a possibly different perspective. Our Lord challenges the people of Nazareth and us here today, to not be confined by our own views. To allow Him to guide our lives, so we will be able to do His will. We will then be empowered to say daily, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will”.

Cuarto Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

Reflexiones del Vicario Parroquial

La gente de Nazaret tenía una agenda. Su agenda influyó en cómo interactuaban con las personas y cómo veían una situación. Nosotros también tenemos diferentes agendas dentro de nuestras vidas. Algunos de ellos se hablan, mientras que otros no se hablan. Por ejemplo, “¿Cuáles son sus planes para hoy?” Podemos preguntar porque realmente nos importa y queremos saber. Otras veces preguntamos, porque ya tenemos nuestros propios planes, nuestra propia agenda y sólo estamos tratando de averiguar cuándo y cómo podemos lograr nuestra propia agenda.

Cuando nuestras agendas tienen un tema común, pueden suceder cosas asombrosas. Nuestras relaciones pueden profundizarse, nuestro amor puede florecer, nuestra fe puede profundizarse y muchas otras cosas buenas y productivas pueden suceder. Sin embargo, con qué frecuencia tendemos a pensar primero en nuestras propias necesidades, antes que en otras. Hay veces en que nos vemos por encima de los demás ante Dios. Hacemos esto cada vez que vemos a nuestro grupo como más merecedor que otro de la bondad y la gracia de Dios. Hacemos esto cada vez que nos sentimos con derecho, a la exclusión de otros, de la vida y el amor de Dios.

Cuando vivimos de esta manera, estamos viviendo como la gente de Nazaret. Lo que buscaban su propia manera de hacer las cosas. No querían ver las cosas desde una perspectiva posiblemente diferente. Nuestro Señor desafía a la gente de Nazaret y a nosotros aquí hoy, a no ser confinados por nuestros propios puntos de vista. Permitir que Él guíe nuestras vidas, para que podamos hacer su voluntad. Entonces tendremos la facultad de decir diariamente: “Aquí estoy Señor, para hacer tu voluntad”.


Baptism of the Lord

January 13, 2019

I am sure that almost everyone here, has seen photo albums before. Most parents have photo albums, which are filled with pictures taken of their family, as they grow up. I have several of my own, of my boys as they were growing up. I bet many of us here took many pictures during this past Christmas season and New Year’s.

Photo albums are filled with pictures, that help us to remember events from the past. They also help us to reflect on how proud we are of those we have taken pictures of. For example, we are proud of our children as they grow up. Be not afraid to tell our children that we are proud of them. They may make numerous mistakes in their lives, but sometimes that is how we learn.

The gospel today, tells us that God the father is also proud of his son Jesus. When Jesus was baptized, the gospel tells us that there was a voice from heaven. This voice told the people, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God was pleased with His son, because he was obedient, to what he asked of him. Thus, he grew in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God. So, that raises an interesting question.

What would God say of us here today, about how we are following his will for us. Do we always do what we are asked to do? I doubt if many of us could answer “yes” to that question. I know that I cannot answer “yes”. For I make many mistakes and do not do all that I can to follow God’s will for me. But Jesus could answer “yes” to that question. For he said “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Being obedient and accepting God’s will, “isn’t easy”. Just look at Adam and Eve, who chose to follow their own will. Our Lord also battled with this, for he was tempted in the desert to follow his own will. We are also tempted to follow our own will, instead of our Heavenly Father’s will. Our Lord is trying to show us that obedience to the will of God, is the path to holiness. This path to Holiness, is what our Lord desires for each of us to follow. Even though we struggle trying to control our will, let us not give up, but keep trying.

As we go through life, we come to know that we cannot do this all on our own, but we need his help.

Ask our Lord to help us to believe, live, and say daily “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.” When we believe and live these words deep in our heart, then the path of holiness starts to unfold before us. For that is the plan of God, that his will be done in each of us, so that God’s plan of salvation, may be accomplished.” It is important that we strive to try to do his will each day. Even though we may fail, we must not give up, but keep trying. It makes a father proud to watch his children grow in maturity, wisdom, and holiness. For any of us to have any chance of accomplishing this, we need to seek our Lord’s help.

First, by praying to know God’s will.

Secondly, by praying for the desire to do His will.

And thirdly, once we know his will, to pray for the strength to do his will.

For what joy there will be in heaven, when we stand before God someday, and we hear him say to us. You are my beloved Son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.


Feast of the Epiphany

January 6, 2019

Did you notice that there seems to be three different groups of people found in today’s Gospel reading.

Each group seems to have a unique attitude or behavior. These same three groups of behaviors are also very much present in our own world today.

The first group, are like the wise men.They are the seekers of God’s truth, and they continuously look for it. They are focused on putting a lot of their efforts into their spiritual journey. They look forward to walking with our Lord each and every day. They want to discover our Lord, more and more each day. They encounter him at Mass, in the sacraments, in personal prayer, and in the people, they encounter. They are deeply involved in sharing their faith with others. Especially within families, workplaces, and everywhere else they encounter the people God sends into their lives.

The second group are like the Herods of the world. They claim to have noble intentions, but deep down inside, they are motivated by self-interest and self-gain. They tend to be two-faced. They will say kind things to you when they are with you, but then they will go behind your back, and trash your reputation and encourage division. They often say they are religious, but don’t want to participate in religious activities. They let their feelings and emotions decide what is morally right.

The third group are like the citizens of Bethlehem.  They tend to be very self-focused. For the Messiah was growing up right in their midst, and they failed to even notice or appreciate it. Many of them are like modern-day Christians, who profess a belief in our Lord, yet they tend to act apathetic toward him. They may show up to church one hour each Sunday. Yet for them, Mass is looked upon as something to “check off the list” each week, like getting groceries or paying bills. The other days of the week, they live their lives as if God is not an important priority. They typically know about Jesus, but they do not really know Jesus. For them, sports, money, business, pleasure, or other worldly pursuits are more important, than an encounter with our Lord. They do not listen for the knock of our Lord on the door of their hearts each day. Worldly pursuits are preferred over walking with our Lord through prayer, each and every day.

So, that raises an interesting question. Which of these three groups, do we find ourselves in?

Our grouping is defined by our actions, and not by our desires. Just because we warm a seat in a pew, or a presiders chair on the altar, does not mean we are like the wise men.

Take some time, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us to know which group we are in.

The story we heard in today’s Gospel, is calling all of us, to notice and follow our Lord’s star. His star is like the Holy Spirit leading us to Christ. Our hearts are being drawn to seek our Lord each day. The star is leading us to an encounter with our Lord. Through this encounter, we will find purpose and fulfillment.

For our Lord tells us, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”.

There are many stars in this world beckoning for our attention, and are seeking us to follow them. Some lead us to a life of loving service to others.  While others lead us to a life of loving service to ourselves.The journey of the wise men, like our own journeys, involve highs and lows, filled with times of insights and doubts.

Through all of our challenges, always remember to keep our eyes on his star. When we encounter our Lord, approach him with humble hearts and with open hands filled with the gifts that we each have. Do not hold too tightly to the gifts we carry, but loosely, so we can share them generously, in the service of our Lord.

Pray for inspiration, and ask our Lord, to send us out each day to be bearers of his love, to all whom we encounter. To help others to come to encounter the merciful love and compassion of our Lord.

Seek him, then follow him.


Feast of the Holy Family

December 30, 2018

Just a few days ago we celebrated the birth of Christ. As we have celebrated our redeemer’s birth, we now celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. A family filled with much joy, but also carrying their share of distress and sorrow.

Most every parent knows the panic that shoots through us, when we notice one of our children are not where they are supposed to be.Perhaps we are at the airport, mall, or in a sports arena and we let go of our little one’s hand just for a second, and we reach for it again, and it’s not there.

I’ve experienced that panic feeling before and I’m sure many of you have as well.If we’re a parent and haven’t experienced that feeling yet don’t worry, we probably will someday. I would not wish those feelings upon anyone.

Can you try to imagine the emptiness in the pit of their stomach has Mary and Joseph first discover that their precious son is missing. Asking everyone if they’ve seen a young boy about so tall, with this color of hair and wearing these kinds of clothes. I can’t imagine the three days of frantic searching.

An interesting side note, to this gospel reading is that this is the only account I found, where Jesus is a boy. He is referenced in other places as a baby and then as a man. We know so little about his years as a youth.

Up till now, Jesus did everything good Jewish boys did. When they find him in the temple, they are very relieved.Yet he responds by saying, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

This incident was not disobedience on Jesus’ part. It was not to show that Joseph and Mary were irresponsible parents.  This situation seems to show a shift from Jesus obeying his earthly father, to obeying his Heavenly Father.

Our Lord feels the call to do his father’s will, to be near him, and to teach and guide other, as a good shepherd does. He starts on a little different journey at this point.

We should take some time and reflect on our journey with our Lord. Have we left Jesus behind, because of our ambitions and priorities in life? We need to take the time to ensure that our priorities align and match with God’s priorities.

Our world teaches us that we should find our own way. That we don’t need someone telling us what to do. Yet, our Lord tells us that he is the way, and the truth, and the life.

Take some time to ponder, if we are making the correct journey by reflecting on our daily actions. For example, when was the last time we came into church early, to prepare our hearts and minds to meet him. When was the last time we set aside time on our weekends to pray or to spend a little time reading some scripture. What is so important, in our lives that we leave Mass early and don’t want to pray together as a community of faith.

I have a question for the children and young people here.What would you have been doing if you were left alone for three days, like Jesus was?

This is an important thing for us to reflect on. We see that at age 12, Jesus was very responsible. He could have been doing anything he wanted. Yet what did he choose, but to be obedient to his heavenly Father. He chose to pray and to share his understand of God with others.I believe the age of maturity is increasing, instead of decreasing. I think our culture is less mature now at age 12 for example, than it was in the past.

I remember soon as our feet could reach the clutch peddle on the tractor, my brother and I were helping in the fields on the farm. As I was pondering this age of maturity, I came across some great words of wisdom from the previous generations.

It is something we should reflect on as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. We don’t hear people speaking of these things much now a days. If you’re old enough to do wrong, you’re old enough to do right. If you’re old enough to talk, you’re old enough to pray. If you’re old enough to read, you’re old enough to read the Bible. If you’re old enough to play video games, you’re old enough to keep your room clean and to help around the house

That last one, is one that I thought should be added to the list.

During this Christmas season, let us reflect on our journey of faith. Let us pray that there will be an awakening in our hearts, minds, and lives.

Our Lord invites us to have a personal encounter with him. If we are serious about encountering our Lord, we need to seek him through prayer and daily devotions.

One of the best ways I know of doing this is to join a small prayer group. If there is not one in your neighborhood, then start one.

Our Lord gave us the key, as to how we are to encounter him.He said,“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Seek him…


Fourth Week of Advent

December 23, 2018

Mary and Elizabeth, the two pregnant women in today’s Advent gospel, recognized in each other, signs from God.  Mary sees the hand of God at work in Elizabeth’s conception in her old age. Elizabeth in her turn, senses in the movement of the child in her womb, on Mary’s arrival, that something extraordinary was happening.

Each of the women, experienced in themselves the possibility of the impossible.

The visitation of Mary to Elizabeth turned out to be a divine visitation. Elizabeth in her old age, gives thanks to God and trusts in his providence. Unlike Sarah, in her old age, who had laughed at the notion that she could conceive and bear a child for Abraham. Mary, for her part, deserved to be acclaimed by Elizabeth for she is praised for being the mother of our Lord and savior.

Mary’s Magnificat celebrates the wonders of God’s graciousness in her life.

As we ponder her Magnificat, we should also reflect on the wonders the Mighty One has done in our lives. Both women had good reason to be very preoccupied with their pregnancies and all that new life brings. But what does Mary do, soon as she becomes aware of Elizabeth’s pregnancy Mary’s quick response and movement, shows clearly that her heart is filled with love and compassion for others.

Already filled with the Holy Spirit, she did not allow anyone or anything to stop her. She reaches out immediately to Elizabeth, to offer her help and also, to be helped by her. They console each another, by sharing their stories, and by giving each other, the gift of themselves. They do this in the midst of the new life that they are both experiencing. Mary’s actions reflect a decision, made deep within her heart, followed by immediate action.

How many things exist in our lives, that we dreamed of doing, that should have been done, but never were. Phone calls and letters that should have been made, dreams that should have been realized, gratitude that was not expressed, love and affection never shown, and words that should have been spoken, but never were.

When we postpone things, they can weigh heavily upon us, wearing us down and discouraging us. Today’s gospel, teaches us a very important lesson. Never delay in showing love and compassion for God and neighbor. It is when our Lord’s spirit is growing inside of us, that we will be led to encounter people, places and situations that we never dreamed of.

When our faith is growing, we will be lead and called to action. We will be bearers of words of consolation and hope, that are not our own. In the very act of consoling others, we will also be consoled and we will be more at peace. If we find that we are not lead and inspired into action, our faith may have become weak, self-center, and stagnant.

The women of today’s Gospel, show us that it is possible to move beyond our own limitations and weaknesses. For many of our limitations and weaknesses are self-imposed. 

In this short time before Christmas, let us reflect on Mary and Elizabeth’s lives.  How they trusted in situations that were beyond their control. Situations that took them far outside of their comfort zones. To truly live what they believed, in times where all they could do was to trust.

Be not afraid, to open our hearts and to trust him who created us from love, for love. To take that love we have received, and share it with those in need. To encourage those that have become discouraged by life with our compassion and kindness. To forgive those who we feel have wronged us, and trust God to be the just judge in all situations. To allow our Lord to fill the loneliness that is in each of our lives with his great love.

Remember also that love takes us places that we are not always use to being. Love works in ways that are sometimes beyond our understanding. Pray and ask for his help and guidance. Allow him to draw us closer to his heart, which beats tirelessly for each one of us.

 Visitation, Mariotto Albertinelli, 1503

Visitation, Mariotto Albertinelli, 1503


Third Week of Advent

December 16, 2018

 

. . . Have you ever seen the movie, Miracle on 34th Street? It starts out with little 10-year-old Susie, sitting in a window. She is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade taking place in the street below her window. To her, it’s just another parade, just like any other day. She does not seem to take seriously that Christmas is coming. She has lost her ability to wonder, and to dream. She has become distracted by this world.

Have our hearts become like little Susie’s?
Are we distracted, have we lost our wonder and anticipation of Christmas?
Do we see this advent season of Christmas, as just another day?. . .

. . . John the Baptist, in his preaching, reminds the Jewish people, and us here today also, that we should continuously be preparing ourselves for the coming of our Lord.
John is showing us that this is what true repentance looks like.
When we repent, we want to start again, we want to change and live our lives differently.
John calls us to share our gifts as a sign of our repentance. . .

. . .I challenge us this advent season, to not be like little Susie, who just sits in her window, watching life pass her by. Step out in faith and trust from our windows, and go out and encounter our Lord, this Advent, among his people.

Share with Him our hearts, and some of the gifts He has given us.

Seek his face in those that are struggling, and who need a friend, and a shoulder to lean on.

Ask Him to fill our hearts with joy and wonder, so we too may prepare our hearts, our families, and our Country, for the coming of the Lord.


Second Week of Advent

December 9, 2018

 

. . . John the Baptist’s message comes to us today as a visual image of human weakness, yet also shows us an image of virtue. He pleads with us to, “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.

What grudges and unforgiveness has our self-righteousness and self-centeredness turned into mountains. What sinful habits have we made into deep valleys and festering swamps? How has our pride, greed, and self-centeredness taken us onto crocked, winding, and dangerous paths?   

John is calling us:

To forgive and to not make mountains out of little molehills.

To seek the sacrament of reconciliation to help fill the valleys and drain the swamps of our sinful.

To seek the straight path of love of God and neighbor, so we are less likely to get lost on life’s crocked paths.

Some of us can probably add something for advent. Like more prayer time each day, or maybe trying to be more caring to those that are different. Some of us can also probably remove something for advent. Maybe turning off that TV and other devices, and spending more time with our families and friends.

. . . Take some time this advent season, to absorb into our hearts the words of John. For we are all called to prepare the way, for our Lord to come into our hearts.

Oh Lord, help us, to follow John the Baptist’s example, by helping others who are in need, out of our love for them.  Help us, to count it an honor to love and serve our neighbors.  Help us, to make room joyfully in our hearts for the coming of our savior.


First Week of Advent

December 2, 2018

 

. . . We are to stay awake, to be prepared, to be ready.

We are to prepare anew our hearts to receive our Lord.  We are to be vigilant in not allowing consumerism and materialism to distract us from our journey.  We are also to quiet our hearts and minds so, we can hear the gentle voice of our Lord.  To allow his birth to inspire us to share our love for him with others. . .

. . . our hearts can be like a manger. A place where our Lord can nourish us, and others. But before this can take place, our hearts must first be prepared to receive him. He cannot come into the manger of our hearts, if there is no room. Often our hearts are filled with anger, anxiety, selfishness, prejudice, and un-repented sins. When our hearts are filled with these things, then there is no room for the one we should most desire to be with us.

During this Advent season, our Lord wants us to seek an encounter with him. To prepare our hearts for his coming. To be vigilant, and to not get distracted in our preparation for him. To clean and prepare for him, the manger of our hearts. It will not be easy to accomplish this preparation, for we all get easily distracted. So pray, and seek out our Blessed Mother’s help, for she too prepared a manger for our savior. When our manger is ready, then invite baby Jesus to come and stay within our hearts. For he will fill our hearts with great joy. Then take that joy, and share it with others.

Reflections from Father Mike, Parochial Vicar


First Sunday of Lent 

I was reading an article the other day, about our Lord’s temptation in the desert.The author raised an interesting perspective, which made me think, when he said:What if Jesus had said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it?”What if he had turned just one small stone into a small loaf of bread? He’s hungry, famished. Why not fill the emptiness? Not a feast or even a big loaf. No butter.Just a little something to get him by.What if he had accepted the glory and authority of all the kingdoms of the world? They are rightfully his anyway. Don’t the ends justify the means?Why not free fall into the arms of the angels? After all he is the beloved son.What if Jesus had said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it?”Would Jesus have been less beloved?Would he have no longer been God’s Son?Would Jesus have been a failure?

These challenging questions raised by the author of this article sure can sound like idle speculations, but they’re not. Our Lord may not have said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it,” but I bet all of us here have said “yes, I’ll do it”.Oh, how often we hunger for triple A .Not the insurance, not the baseball league, but we all hunger for attention, acceptance, and approval.We all I suspect, have found the emptiness, restlessness, boredom, and that sense that our life may seem to have no meaning and may not be going where we want it to.We may not have turned a stone into a piece of bread but we’ve likely filled our emptiness and hunger with something not very nutritious and life-giving. Most of the time we fill this hunger with something other than what we know God would want for us.When we look deep inside ourselves, we discover that we often only want a little something to get us by.A little something to fill the loneliness, and to satisfy the hunger.But over time we come to realize that it doesn’t satisfy.It never does. It only gets us to the next fix.Our Lord’s temptations in the wilderness are not all that different than our temptations.The wilderness is not so much a place, as it is a situation. Many times, like our Lord we are sometimes left alone with our thoughts, concerns and worries.Like, who am I? What is my life about? How will I get through this?Like in Jesus’s time, in the wilderness, there is usually a voice that is quick to offer an answer, an idea, a way.Jesus was tempted just like we are.The difference is that he said no, while we often say yes.In that moment of decision, where we give into temptation are we less beloved of God?Are we somehow less God’s sons and daughters? Are we a failure? What if we ask these questions differently.If we had said, no to temptations, would we be more beloved by God? Would we be more a child of God?Would we have passed the test and we would be a spiritual success? Whether Jesus said yes or no, I feel did not determine his sonship, or how beloved he was.Our temptations, our struggles in the desert, do not determine how well God know us, but it helps us to come to know ourselves. For in struggling with our temptations, we begin to know ourselves. That as Christians, we are filled with and are to be led by the Spirit.

Temptations are not a pass-fail exam, but they help us understand ourselves.For example, if we strive for the virtue of patience,God allow us to come to know how we are doing, by allowing challenges in the area of patience for us to overcome.It is in these challenges, these temptations that we have the opportunity to rise above the challenges and live the virtue.Every temptation we encounter is an opportunity for us to rediscover, affirm, and claim our identity as a beloved child of God.How we respond to temptations, whether with a yes or no, tell us something about ourselves.They offer information about who we believe ourselves to be, and whose we believe we belonging to.Temptations reveal where we place our trust, how we seethe world, and even our way of being towards others.In facing our temptations, we can discover our true hunger and emptiness.We can come to know where our hurts areand see how we act out in our woundedness. We can also discover more about our weaknesses and we can also become more self-aware.With each temptation we are offered the opportunity for a new life and a new way of being as beloved children of God. So, can there is salvation without temptation?Can we obtain a virtue, without a struggle?Can we experience true love, without true freedom?It is in our temptations, where we can sometimes come to know our gifts better.

Oh Lord, help us to discover where our hurts and woundedness lie.For it is in our weaknesses, that we come to know our need for you.Oh Lord, come and awaken the hearts of your children.Draw us on to you oh Lord, and cleans us of all that blinds or spirit.Oh Lord, remove the burden of pride from our hearts.Kindle in our hearts, a desire for you alone.That someday we may hear you say to us, you are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The gospel reading today is one of the most extraordinary writings.  It seems to totally reverse our human thinking about enemies and forgiveness. It describes for us the way God goes about things, holding nothing against us despite all our failings. This is how our Lord lived, thus showing us by example the right path.

Our Lord shows us the language we need to use to live and reflect the importance of our relationships to one another. We are to interact with our neighbors, mindful of how we ourselves have received the good gifts of mercy and forgiveness from God. When we find ourselves having difficulties with others, it is good for us to pray that we come to know our own faults. We should also pray for others, that they may receive the graces needed to reflect our Lord’s love within their lives.

Our Lord challenges us again by turning our thinking upside down. We are called to Love our enemies, which is so contrary to human nature, but that is what He asks of us. For He asks us now to bring our enemies into our hearts and show mercy to them. When we do this, they no longer are strangers to us. Our Lord also invites us to interact and respond to our world as He did. He calls us to practice living our lives filled with love, kindness, prayer and forgiveness. We are all called to do this, not only where there is something which we approve, but in all circumstances.

Take some time this week and ask our Lord to remove all ways in which we view others, which causes us to distrust, to judge, to condemn or to hold back. Pray for patience to endure any difficult circumstances and pray for courage to be able to confront them the best we can. Our world can be transformed if we take our Lord’s message seriously. Our task is to work with Him and to live each day with a greater love than we had imagined possible.

Let us each spend some time reflecting on how merciful God is to us, even though we are sinful and often ungrateful. Oh Lord, give us a compassionate heart that we may pause before judging and condemning our enemies, so then we can respond with love.

Séptimo Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

La lectura del evangelio de hoy es uno de los escritos más extraordinarios. Parece revertir totalmente nuestro pensamiento humano sobre los enemigos y el perdón. Nos describe la manera en que Dios hace las cosas, sin tener nada en contra de nosotros a pesar de todos nuestros defectos. Así vivió nuestro Señor, mostrándonos, por ejemplo, el camino correcto.

Nuestro Señor nos muestra el lenguaje que necesitamos usar para vivir y reflejar la importancia de nuestras relaciones entre nosotros. Debemos interactuar con nuestros vecinos, conscientes de cómo nosotros mismos hemos recibido los buenos regalos de misericordia y perdón de Dios. Cuando nos encontramos con dificultades con los demás, es bueno para nosotros orar para que lleguemos a conocer nuestras faltas. También debemos orar por los demás, para que puedan recibir las gracias necesarias para reflejar el amor de nuestro Señor en sus vidas.

Nuestro Señor nos desafía de nuevo dando la vuelta a nuestro pensamiento. Estamos llamados a amar a nuestros enemigos, lo cual es muy contrario a la naturaleza humana, pero eso es lo que Él nos pide. Porque Él nos pide ahora que llevemos a nuestros enemigos a nuestros corazones y les mostremos misericordia. Cuando hacemos esto ya no son extraños para nosotros. Nuestro Señor también nos invita a interactuar y responder a nuestro mundo como lo hizo. Él nos llama a practicar vivir nuestras vidas llenas de amor, amabilidad, oración y perdón. Todos estamos llamados a hacer esto, no sólo cuando hay algo que aprobamos, sino en todas las circunstancias.

Tómese un tiempo esta semana y pídale a nuestro Señor que elimine todas las formas en que vemos a los demás, lo que nos hace desconfiar, juzgar, condenar o frenar. Ore por paciencia para soportar cualquier circunstancia difícil y ore por valentía para poder enfrentarlos lo mejor que podamos. Nuestro mundo puede ser transformado si tomamos en serio el mensaje de nuestro Señor. Nuestra tarea es trabajar con Él y vivir cada día con un amor más grande del que habíamos imaginado.

Cada uno de nosotros dedique un tiempo a reflexionar sobre cuán misericordioso es Dios con nosotros, aunque seamos pecaminosos y, a menudo, ingratos. Oh Señor, danos un corazón compasivo para que podamos hacer una pausa antes de juzgar y condenar a nuestros enemigos, para que podamos responder con amor.


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

It seems like whenever we are going to buy something, we always check its price to establish its worth. I believe it is important for us to recognize our own true worth. To recognize how valuable, how pecious we are to the LORD. It is important for us to know our worth, our value in God’s eyes. For far too many people base their self-worth on earthly things. For example, we can base our worth on how other people treat us, what they say about us, what accomplishments or achievements we have attained, what type of house we live in, what type of car we drive, or even how much money we have in our bank accounts.

It is so easy to get caught up into thinking that we are only worth what others say we are worth. It is important for us to remember that our value is not based on what we do, what we have or even who we know. We tend to overlook things especially when it comes to what we are worth in the heart of our Heavenly Father.

Our Lord had to face the same challenges we do about our self-worth. Scripture tells us that there were times that even His own family doubted His worth. Members of His own family thought He was crazy. Our Lord had to deal with all those things. Yet, He understood that in His Father’s Eyes He was valuable. He did not need the approval of other people.

Our Lord reached out to those no one else wanted to be around and those that people looked down upon. He reached out to those who were hurting and suffering emotionally, socially, financially and spiritually. He reached out to those who were being marginalized and those who were being shoved to the side. By reaching out, He was showing them that their Heavenly Father believes that they had value, that they were priceless. He shows us that we are worthy of His time, His attention and His healing.

Life will do its best to cast us down and cause us to doubt ourselves. Life will try to convince us that we are for the most part worthless and insignificant. Let us today share the understanding of our worth. Let us come daily in prayer to receive our Lord’s strength and encouragement. For we are all called to share the Good News with all those we meet. For the whole world needs to hear that God loves them, He values them, and so do we as well.

Sexto Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

Parece que cada vez que vamos a comprar algo, siempre verificamos su precio para establecer su valor. Creo que es importante para nosotros reconocer nuestro verdadero valor. Reconocer cuán valiosos, cuán pecaminosos somos para el SEÑOR. Es importante, para nosotros saber nuestro valor a los ojos de Dios. Porque demasiadas personas basan su autoestima en cosas terrenales. Por ejemplo, podemos basar nuestra valía en cómo nos tratan otras personas, lo que dicen de nosotros, la realización o logros que hemos alcanzado, en qué tipo de casa vivimos, qué tipo de automóvil manejamos o incluso cuánto dinero tener en nuestras cuentas bancarias.

Es tan fácil quedar atrapado en el pensamiento que sólo valemos lo que otros dicen que valemos. Es importante para nosotros recordar que nuestro valor no se basa en lo que hacemos, lo que tenemos o incluso a quién conocemos. Solemos pasar por alto las cosas, especialmente cuando se trata de lo que valemos en el corazón de nuestro Padre Celestial.

Nuestro Señor tuvo que enfrentar los mismos desafíos que nosotros hacemos sobre nuestra autoestima. Las Escrituras nos dicen que hubo momentos en que incluso su propia familia dudó de su valor. Los miembros de su propia familia pensaron que estaba loco. Nuestro Señor tuvo que lidiar con todas esas cosas. Sin embargo, entendió que en los ojos de su padre era valioso. No necesitaba la aprobación de otras personas.

Nuestro Señor se acercó a aquellos que nadie más quería estar cerca y aquellos a quienes la gente menospreciaba. Se acercó a aquellos que sufrían y sufrían emocional, social, financiera y espiritualmente. Se acercó a aquellos que estaban siendo marginados y aquellos que estaban siendo empujados a un lado. Al llegar, Él les estaba mostrando que su Padre Celestial cree que tenían valor, que no tenían precio. Él nos muestra que somos dignos de su tiempo, su atención y su sanación. La vida hará todo lo posible para derribarnos y hacer que dudemos de nosotros mismos.

La vida hará todo lo posible para derribarnos y hacer que dudemos de nosotros mismos. La vida tratará de convencernos de que somos, en su mayor parte, inútiles e insignificantes. Compartamos hoy la comprensión de nuestro valor. Venimos diariamente en oración para recibir la fortaleza y el ánimo de nuestro Señor. Porque todos estamos llamados a compartir la Buena Nueva con todos los que conocemos. Porque todo el mundo necesita escuchar que Dios los ama, Él los valora, y nosotros también.


Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I know many of us have probably been in situations where things did not go the way we desired. This can be frustrating and can easily cause us to question our efforts and can even cause us to want to give up, to throw in the towel. We see this type of situation also play out with Peter. He fished all night and caught nothing and was tired and probably disheartened. He may have been worried about where his next meal might be coming from, what he did wrong, maybe even doubted his ability as a fisherman. We see in Peter, our own human weaknesses played out. How often we strive to do things totally on our own. We strive to do it the American way, with our own true grit. 

 

Our Lord calls each of us to let go and to leave behind our doubts and fears. He calls us, like Peter, to trust in Him even in situations that seem hopeless. He calls us to let go of human reason, and to allow our Lord to do the impossible. When we turn to our Lord and trust in Him, He will challenge us, so we can grow in love and trust of Him.

He will take us into the deep waters, where we may fear to go, but much good can take place there. We saw Peter go with our Lord into the deep waters and they found a rich harvest. This rich harvest is also among the rocks and thorns, which can be intimidating and not easy for us to get to.

 

With that said, be not afraid to allow the Lord to lead you. Open your heart to Him, and trust in Him. Allow Him to stretch you out of your self-made comfort zones. We may not always understand everything, but that is ok, for that is where faith and trust intersect.  When we allow our Lord to take us out into the deep waters, our faith can be strengthened, for we need to rely even more on Him. When fear creeps in, just reflect on Peter, for he was not in the deep waters alone, for our Lord accompanied him along the whole journey.

 

Quinto Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

Sé que muchos de nosotros probablemente hemos estado en situaciones en las que las cosas no fueron como las deseábamos. Esto puede ser frustrante y puede hacernos cuestionar fácilmente nuestros esfuerzos e incluso puede hacer que deseamos rendirnos, tirar la toalla. Vemos que este tipo de situación también le sucede a Pedro. El pescó toda la noche y no atrapó nada, estaba cansado y probablemente desanimado. Puede haber estado preocupado por saber de dónde vendría su próxima comida, qué hizo mal, tal vez incluso dudó de su habilidad como pescador. Vemos en Pedro, que se cumplieron nuestras propias debilidades humanas. Con qué frecuencia nos esforzamos por hacer las cosas totalmente por nuestra cuenta. Nos esforzamos por hacerlo a la manera nuestra.

Nuestro Señor nos llama a cada uno a dejarnos ir y dejar atrás nuestras dudas y temores. Él nos llama, como Pedro, a confiar en Él incluso en situaciones que parecen desesperadas. Él nos llama a dejar de lado la razón humana y a permitir que nuestro Señor haga lo imposible. Cuando nos dirigimos a nuestro Señor y confiamos en Él, Él nos desafiará, para que podamos crecer en amor y confianza en Él. Él nos llevará a las aguas profundas, donde podemos tener miedo de ir, pero mucho bien puede ocurrir allí. Observamos a Pedro ir con nuestro Señor a las profundas aguas y encontraron una rica cosecha. Esta rica cosecha también se encuentra entre las rocas y las espinas, lo que puede ser intimidante y no ser fácil para nosotros.

Dicho esto, no tengas miedo de permitir que el Señor te guíe. Abre tu corazón a Él, y confía en Él. Permítale que lo extienda fuera de sus zonas de comodidad creadas por ti. Puede que no siempre entendamos todo, pero eso está bien, porque ahí es donde se cruzan la fe y la confianza. Cuando permitimos que nuestro Señor nos lleve a las aguas profundas, nuestra fe puede fortalecerse, ya que necesitamos confiar aún más en Él. Cuando el miedo nos invade, sólo reflexiona en Pedro, porque no estaba sólo en las profundas aguas, porque nuestro Señor lo acompañó a lo largo de todo el viaje. 


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parochial Vicar Reflections

The people of Nazareth had an agenda. Their agenda influenced how they interacted with people, and how they viewed a situation. We too have different agendas within our lives. Some of them are spoken, while others are unspoken. For example, “What are your plans for today?” We can ask because we truly care and want to know. There are other times we ask, because we already have our own plans, our own agenda, and we are just trying to figure out when and how we can accomplish our own agenda.

When our agendas have a common theme, amazing things can happen. Our relationships can deepen, our love can flourish, our faith can grow deeper, and many other good and productive things can happen. Yet, how often we tend to think first of our own needs, before others. There are times that we view ourselves above others before God. We do this anytime we see our group as more deserving than another of God’s goodness and grace. We do this anytime we feel entitled, to the exclusion of others, of God’s life and love.

When we live this way, we are living like the people of Nazareth. The ones who sought their own way of doing things. They did not want to see things from a possibly different perspective. Our Lord challenges the people of Nazareth and us here today, to not be confined by our own views. To allow Him to guide our lives, so we will be able to do His will. We will then be empowered to say daily, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will”.

Cuarto Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

Reflexiones del Vicario Parroquial

La gente de Nazaret tenía una agenda. Su agenda influyó en cómo interactuaban con las personas y cómo veían una situación. Nosotros también tenemos diferentes agendas dentro de nuestras vidas. Algunos de ellos se hablan, mientras que otros no se hablan. Por ejemplo, “¿Cuáles son sus planes para hoy?” Podemos preguntar porque realmente nos importa y queremos saber. Otras veces preguntamos, porque ya tenemos nuestros propios planes, nuestra propia agenda y sólo estamos tratando de averiguar cuándo y cómo podemos lograr nuestra propia agenda.

Cuando nuestras agendas tienen un tema común, pueden suceder cosas asombrosas. Nuestras relaciones pueden profundizarse, nuestro amor puede florecer, nuestra fe puede profundizarse y muchas otras cosas buenas y productivas pueden suceder. Sin embargo, con qué frecuencia tendemos a pensar primero en nuestras propias necesidades, antes que en otras. Hay veces en que nos vemos por encima de los demás ante Dios. Hacemos esto cada vez que vemos a nuestro grupo como más merecedor que otro de la bondad y la gracia de Dios. Hacemos esto cada vez que nos sentimos con derecho, a la exclusión de otros, de la vida y el amor de Dios.

Cuando vivimos de esta manera, estamos viviendo como la gente de Nazaret. Lo que buscaban su propia manera de hacer las cosas. No querían ver las cosas desde una perspectiva posiblemente diferente. Nuestro Señor desafía a la gente de Nazaret y a nosotros aquí hoy, a no ser confinados por nuestros propios puntos de vista. Permitir que Él guíe nuestras vidas, para que podamos hacer su voluntad. Entonces tendremos la facultad de decir diariamente: “Aquí estoy Señor, para hacer tu voluntad”.


Baptism of the Lord

January 13, 2019

I am sure that almost everyone here, has seen photo albums before. Most parents have photo albums, which are filled with pictures taken of their family, as they grow up. I have several of my own, of my boys as they were growing up. I bet many of us here took many pictures during this past Christmas season and New Year’s.

Photo albums are filled with pictures, that help us to remember events from the past. They also help us to reflect on how proud we are of those we have taken pictures of. For example, we are proud of our children as they grow up. Be not afraid to tell our children that we are proud of them. They may make numerous mistakes in their lives, but sometimes that is how we learn.

The gospel today, tells us that God the father is also proud of his son Jesus. When Jesus was baptized, the gospel tells us that there was a voice from heaven. This voice told the people, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God was pleased with His son, because he was obedient, to what he asked of him. Thus, he grew in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God. So, that raises an interesting question.

What would God say of us here today, about how we are following his will for us. Do we always do what we are asked to do? I doubt if many of us could answer “yes” to that question. I know that I cannot answer “yes”. For I make many mistakes and do not do all that I can to follow God’s will for me. But Jesus could answer “yes” to that question. For he said “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Being obedient and accepting God’s will, “isn’t easy”. Just look at Adam and Eve, who chose to follow their own will. Our Lord also battled with this, for he was tempted in the desert to follow his own will. We are also tempted to follow our own will, instead of our Heavenly Father’s will. Our Lord is trying to show us that obedience to the will of God, is the path to holiness. This path to Holiness, is what our Lord desires for each of us to follow. Even though we struggle trying to control our will, let us not give up, but keep trying.

As we go through life, we come to know that we cannot do this all on our own, but we need his help.

Ask our Lord to help us to believe, live, and say daily “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.” When we believe and live these words deep in our heart, then the path of holiness starts to unfold before us. For that is the plan of God, that his will be done in each of us, so that God’s plan of salvation, may be accomplished.” It is important that we strive to try to do his will each day. Even though we may fail, we must not give up, but keep trying. It makes a father proud to watch his children grow in maturity, wisdom, and holiness. For any of us to have any chance of accomplishing this, we need to seek our Lord’s help.

First, by praying to know God’s will.

Secondly, by praying for the desire to do His will.

And thirdly, once we know his will, to pray for the strength to do his will.

For what joy there will be in heaven, when we stand before God someday, and we hear him say to us. You are my beloved Son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.


Feast of the Epiphany

January 6, 2019

Did you notice that there seems to be three different groups of people found in today’s Gospel reading.

Each group seems to have a unique attitude or behavior. These same three groups of behaviors are also very much present in our own world today.

The first group, are like the wise men.They are the seekers of God’s truth, and they continuously look for it. They are focused on putting a lot of their efforts into their spiritual journey. They look forward to walking with our Lord each and every day. They want to discover our Lord, more and more each day. They encounter him at Mass, in the sacraments, in personal prayer, and in the people, they encounter. They are deeply involved in sharing their faith with others. Especially within families, workplaces, and everywhere else they encounter the people God sends into their lives.

The second group are like the Herods of the world. They claim to have noble intentions, but deep down inside, they are motivated by self-interest and self-gain. They tend to be two-faced. They will say kind things to you when they are with you, but then they will go behind your back, and trash your reputation and encourage division. They often say they are religious, but don’t want to participate in religious activities. They let their feelings and emotions decide what is morally right.

The third group are like the citizens of Bethlehem.  They tend to be very self-focused. For the Messiah was growing up right in their midst, and they failed to even notice or appreciate it. Many of them are like modern-day Christians, who profess a belief in our Lord, yet they tend to act apathetic toward him. They may show up to church one hour each Sunday. Yet for them, Mass is looked upon as something to “check off the list” each week, like getting groceries or paying bills. The other days of the week, they live their lives as if God is not an important priority. They typically know about Jesus, but they do not really know Jesus. For them, sports, money, business, pleasure, or other worldly pursuits are more important, than an encounter with our Lord. They do not listen for the knock of our Lord on the door of their hearts each day. Worldly pursuits are preferred over walking with our Lord through prayer, each and every day.

So, that raises an interesting question. Which of these three groups, do we find ourselves in?

Our grouping is defined by our actions, and not by our desires. Just because we warm a seat in a pew, or a presiders chair on the altar, does not mean we are like the wise men.

Take some time, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us to know which group we are in.

The story we heard in today’s Gospel, is calling all of us, to notice and follow our Lord’s star. His star is like the Holy Spirit leading us to Christ. Our hearts are being drawn to seek our Lord each day. The star is leading us to an encounter with our Lord. Through this encounter, we will find purpose and fulfillment.

For our Lord tells us, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”.

There are many stars in this world beckoning for our attention, and are seeking us to follow them. Some lead us to a life of loving service to others.  While others lead us to a life of loving service to ourselves.The journey of the wise men, like our own journeys, involve highs and lows, filled with times of insights and doubts.

Through all of our challenges, always remember to keep our eyes on his star. When we encounter our Lord, approach him with humble hearts and with open hands filled with the gifts that we each have. Do not hold too tightly to the gifts we carry, but loosely, so we can share them generously, in the service of our Lord.

Pray for inspiration, and ask our Lord, to send us out each day to be bearers of his love, to all whom we encounter. To help others to come to encounter the merciful love and compassion of our Lord.

Seek him, then follow him.


Feast of the Holy Family

December 30, 2018

Just a few days ago we celebrated the birth of Christ. As we have celebrated our redeemer’s birth, we now celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. A family filled with much joy, but also carrying their share of distress and sorrow.

Most every parent knows the panic that shoots through us, when we notice one of our children are not where they are supposed to be.Perhaps we are at the airport, mall, or in a sports arena and we let go of our little one’s hand just for a second, and we reach for it again, and it’s not there.

I’ve experienced that panic feeling before and I’m sure many of you have as well.If we’re a parent and haven’t experienced that feeling yet don’t worry, we probably will someday. I would not wish those feelings upon anyone.

Can you try to imagine the emptiness in the pit of their stomach has Mary and Joseph first discover that their precious son is missing. Asking everyone if they’ve seen a young boy about so tall, with this color of hair and wearing these kinds of clothes. I can’t imagine the three days of frantic searching.

An interesting side note, to this gospel reading is that this is the only account I found, where Jesus is a boy. He is referenced in other places as a baby and then as a man. We know so little about his years as a youth.

Up till now, Jesus did everything good Jewish boys did. When they find him in the temple, they are very relieved.Yet he responds by saying, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

This incident was not disobedience on Jesus’ part. It was not to show that Joseph and Mary were irresponsible parents.  This situation seems to show a shift from Jesus obeying his earthly father, to obeying his Heavenly Father.

Our Lord feels the call to do his father’s will, to be near him, and to teach and guide other, as a good shepherd does. He starts on a little different journey at this point.

We should take some time and reflect on our journey with our Lord. Have we left Jesus behind, because of our ambitions and priorities in life? We need to take the time to ensure that our priorities align and match with God’s priorities.

Our world teaches us that we should find our own way. That we don’t need someone telling us what to do. Yet, our Lord tells us that he is the way, and the truth, and the life.

Take some time to ponder, if we are making the correct journey by reflecting on our daily actions. For example, when was the last time we came into church early, to prepare our hearts and minds to meet him. When was the last time we set aside time on our weekends to pray or to spend a little time reading some scripture. What is so important, in our lives that we leave Mass early and don’t want to pray together as a community of faith.

I have a question for the children and young people here.What would you have been doing if you were left alone for three days, like Jesus was?

This is an important thing for us to reflect on. We see that at age 12, Jesus was very responsible. He could have been doing anything he wanted. Yet what did he choose, but to be obedient to his heavenly Father. He chose to pray and to share his understand of God with others.I believe the age of maturity is increasing, instead of decreasing. I think our culture is less mature now at age 12 for example, than it was in the past.

I remember soon as our feet could reach the clutch peddle on the tractor, my brother and I were helping in the fields on the farm. As I was pondering this age of maturity, I came across some great words of wisdom from the previous generations.

It is something we should reflect on as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. We don’t hear people speaking of these things much now a days. If you’re old enough to do wrong, you’re old enough to do right. If you’re old enough to talk, you’re old enough to pray. If you’re old enough to read, you’re old enough to read the Bible. If you’re old enough to play video games, you’re old enough to keep your room clean and to help around the house

That last one, is one that I thought should be added to the list.

During this Christmas season, let us reflect on our journey of faith. Let us pray that there will be an awakening in our hearts, minds, and lives.

Our Lord invites us to have a personal encounter with him. If we are serious about encountering our Lord, we need to seek him through prayer and daily devotions.

One of the best ways I know of doing this is to join a small prayer group. If there is not one in your neighborhood, then start one.

Our Lord gave us the key, as to how we are to encounter him.He said,“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Seek him…


Fourth Week of Advent

December 23, 2018

Mary and Elizabeth, the two pregnant women in today’s Advent gospel, recognized in each other, signs from God.  Mary sees the hand of God at work in Elizabeth’s conception in her old age. Elizabeth in her turn, senses in the movement of the child in her womb, on Mary’s arrival, that something extraordinary was happening.

Each of the women, experienced in themselves the possibility of the impossible.

The visitation of Mary to Elizabeth turned out to be a divine visitation. Elizabeth in her old age, gives thanks to God and trusts in his providence. Unlike Sarah, in her old age, who had laughed at the notion that she could conceive and bear a child for Abraham. Mary, for her part, deserved to be acclaimed by Elizabeth for she is praised for being the mother of our Lord and savior.

Mary’s Magnificat celebrates the wonders of God’s graciousness in her life.

As we ponder her Magnificat, we should also reflect on the wonders the Mighty One has done in our lives. Both women had good reason to be very preoccupied with their pregnancies and all that new life brings. But what does Mary do, soon as she becomes aware of Elizabeth’s pregnancy Mary’s quick response and movement, shows clearly that her heart is filled with love and compassion for others.

Already filled with the Holy Spirit, she did not allow anyone or anything to stop her. She reaches out immediately to Elizabeth, to offer her help and also, to be helped by her. They console each another, by sharing their stories, and by giving each other, the gift of themselves. They do this in the midst of the new life that they are both experiencing. Mary’s actions reflect a decision, made deep within her heart, followed by immediate action.

How many things exist in our lives, that we dreamed of doing, that should have been done, but never were. Phone calls and letters that should have been made, dreams that should have been realized, gratitude that was not expressed, love and affection never shown, and words that should have been spoken, but never were.

When we postpone things, they can weigh heavily upon us, wearing us down and discouraging us. Today’s gospel, teaches us a very important lesson. Never delay in showing love and compassion for God and neighbor. It is when our Lord’s spirit is growing inside of us, that we will be led to encounter people, places and situations that we never dreamed of.

When our faith is growing, we will be lead and called to action. We will be bearers of words of consolation and hope, that are not our own. In the very act of consoling others, we will also be consoled and we will be more at peace. If we find that we are not lead and inspired into action, our faith may have become weak, self-center, and stagnant.

The women of today’s Gospel, show us that it is possible to move beyond our own limitations and weaknesses. For many of our limitations and weaknesses are self-imposed. 

In this short time before Christmas, let us reflect on Mary and Elizabeth’s lives.  How they trusted in situations that were beyond their control. Situations that took them far outside of their comfort zones. To truly live what they believed, in times where all they could do was to trust.

Be not afraid, to open our hearts and to trust him who created us from love, for love. To take that love we have received, and share it with those in need. To encourage those that have become discouraged by life with our compassion and kindness. To forgive those who we feel have wronged us, and trust God to be the just judge in all situations. To allow our Lord to fill the loneliness that is in each of our lives with his great love.

Remember also that love takes us places that we are not always use to being. Love works in ways that are sometimes beyond our understanding. Pray and ask for his help and guidance. Allow him to draw us closer to his heart, which beats tirelessly for each one of us.

 Visitation, Mariotto Albertinelli, 1503

Visitation, Mariotto Albertinelli, 1503


Third Week of Advent

December 16, 2018

 

. . . Have you ever seen the movie, Miracle on 34th Street? It starts out with little 10-year-old Susie, sitting in a window. She is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade taking place in the street below her window. To her, it’s just another parade, just like any other day. She does not seem to take seriously that Christmas is coming. She has lost her ability to wonder, and to dream. She has become distracted by this world.

Have our hearts become like little Susie’s?
Are we distracted, have we lost our wonder and anticipation of Christmas?
Do we see this advent season of Christmas, as just another day?. . .

. . . John the Baptist, in his preaching, reminds the Jewish people, and us here today also, that we should continuously be preparing ourselves for the coming of our Lord.
John is showing us that this is what true repentance looks like.
When we repent, we want to start again, we want to change and live our lives differently.
John calls us to share our gifts as a sign of our repentance. . .

. . .I challenge us this advent season, to not be like little Susie, who just sits in her window, watching life pass her by. Step out in faith and trust from our windows, and go out and encounter our Lord, this Advent, among his people.

Share with Him our hearts, and some of the gifts He has given us.

Seek his face in those that are struggling, and who need a friend, and a shoulder to lean on.

Ask Him to fill our hearts with joy and wonder, so we too may prepare our hearts, our families, and our Country, for the coming of the Lord.


Second Week of Advent

December 9, 2018

 

. . . John the Baptist’s message comes to us today as a visual image of human weakness, yet also shows us an image of virtue. He pleads with us to, “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.

What grudges and unforgiveness has our self-righteousness and self-centeredness turned into mountains. What sinful habits have we made into deep valleys and festering swamps? How has our pride, greed, and self-centeredness taken us onto crocked, winding, and dangerous paths?   

John is calling us:

To forgive and to not make mountains out of little molehills.

To seek the sacrament of reconciliation to help fill the valleys and drain the swamps of our sinful.

To seek the straight path of love of God and neighbor, so we are less likely to get lost on life’s crocked paths.

Some of us can probably add something for advent. Like more prayer time each day, or maybe trying to be more caring to those that are different. Some of us can also probably remove something for advent. Maybe turning off that TV and other devices, and spending more time with our families and friends.

. . . Take some time this advent season, to absorb into our hearts the words of John. For we are all called to prepare the way, for our Lord to come into our hearts.

Oh Lord, help us, to follow John the Baptist’s example, by helping others who are in need, out of our love for them.  Help us, to count it an honor to love and serve our neighbors.  Help us, to make room joyfully in our hearts for the coming of our savior.


First Week of Advent

December 2, 2018

 

. . . We are to stay awake, to be prepared, to be ready.

We are to prepare anew our hearts to receive our Lord.  We are to be vigilant in not allowing consumerism and materialism to distract us from our journey.  We are also to quiet our hearts and minds so, we can hear the gentle voice of our Lord.  To allow his birth to inspire us to share our love for him with others. . .

. . . our hearts can be like a manger. A place where our Lord can nourish us, and others. But before this can take place, our hearts must first be prepared to receive him. He cannot come into the manger of our hearts, if there is no room. Often our hearts are filled with anger, anxiety, selfishness, prejudice, and un-repented sins. When our hearts are filled with these things, then there is no room for the one we should most desire to be with us.

During this Advent season, our Lord wants us to seek an encounter with him. To prepare our hearts for his coming. To be vigilant, and to not get distracted in our preparation for him. To clean and prepare for him, the manger of our hearts. It will not be easy to accomplish this preparation, for we all get easily distracted. So pray, and seek out our Blessed Mother’s help, for she too prepared a manger for our savior. When our manger is ready, then invite baby Jesus to come and stay within our hearts. For he will fill our hearts with great joy. Then take that joy, and share it with others.

WP Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com
Translate English/Spanish »