The Third Sunday of Easter

We come together this Sunday to celebrate and to proclaim the risen Lord, who is our advocate with the Father. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter proclaims that in Jesus' name repentance for the forgiveness of sins is preached to all. Peter therefore underlines the message of forgiveness. He urges the people to repent of their sins and turn to God. In the second reading, John continues the same theme of repentance. Our faith in the risen Lord implies living in fidelity to his commandments. The clearest manifestation of faith in the resurrection is found in those moments when we move from alienation to conversion and assume the mission and purpose of Jesus Christ.

 

The Gospel account is about the appearance to the whole assmbly of apostles and disciples.  It is on the first day of the week in the evening.  The two disciples who had gone to Emmausare just back exited to tell their encounter with the Risen Lord.  While they share this story, Jesus suddenly appears and invites them to touch him and see for themselves that he is really himself.  That is why Jesus shows them his hands and his side so they can see their own eyes.  Finally, the disciples are convinced that is is really the same Jesus, the crucified one who is now alive.  The light of the resurrection enlightens the scriptures for the disciples, as Jesus explains the things he had told them about himself.

 

The message we take home this Sunday is threefold. 1) At this celebration, we too like the disciples meet the Risen Lord who speaks to us and enlightens us to understand the scriptures; 2) We too must let ourselves be touched by our faith in the resurrection and be led to live a new life in Christ; 3) Like he apostles, we too are so overjoyed and filled with the Spirit of the Risen Lord, that we cannot but give witness to what we have seen and heard.   

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Second Sunday of Easter

Today’s Gospel story is a familiar one, the story itself and the familiar term of ‘Doubting Thomas.’ When we think of Thomas, he carries that doubting tag. We think to ourselves, that wouldn’t have been me. “I don’t have to see Jesus to believe.” But then, doubt creeps in.

When we reflect on it, we feel we should give Doubting Thomas the benefit of the doubt. We’ve heard in our entire lives about Jesus and the Resurrection, about God made man. Thomas was able to meet Jesus and be with him, but Thomas knew Jesus as a man. Jesus understood he was asking a lot of the apostles and Thomas. He gently tells Thomas: “ Blessed are those who have not seen and believed.”

We all doubt. We doubt our own ability. We doubt our loved ones. We don’t feel confident in what we believe. We feel abandoned. We are not sure we are worth much.

The good news: We can believe in Jesus, in the crucifixion and the resurrection. Even if we can’t touch the nail marks or the pierced marks in Jesus’ side, we can believe in the presence of Jesus in our lives. And if we believe in that presence, we have to erase the doubt about ourselves and others.

Today also is the Sunday of Divine Mercy, fitting as God’s mercy compels us to act, to forgive, to console, to help. Acting with mercy compels us to overcome our doubts about ourselves and about others. We can help. We can contribute. We can see the God in others and in ourselves.

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

“Christ is risen!”

This ancient Easter greeting is still used by our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Churches today. The greeting reminds us during the season of Easter of the great joy we have in Christ’s glorious Resurrection. The response to the greeting is: “Indeed He is risen!” This response is a proclamation of what we believe.

 

On Easter Sunday we celebrate the most unique victory over death for which we have been preparing during the Lenten season. St. Augustine in the 4th century reminds us why we are filled with such great joy at Easter and throughout this season.  "We are in Easter people and Alleluia is our song."  In other words, Easter is not just doctrine.  It is a reality that we live.  Throughout the season and indeed throughout the Ordinary Time we live as "an Easter People" and sing the "Alleluia."  If we are an Easter people, then there is nothing we need to be afraid of, because we know that Christ's power of the resurrection will indeed lead us to victory.  

 

That is the good news Easter brings to all of us. If you are facing health issues, marital crisis, economic crisis, personal crisis, this message is for you. God, is the out to transform all that and lead you to overcome the crisis, whatever it may be. God intends you to have life in abundance; to live as an Easter person. After reading this Easter message, enter into a prayer of transformation and allow Christ, the Risen Lord to lead you into victory. He is risen to give you new life.

 

I wish you all a blessed and fruitful Easter season. “Christ is risen, alleluia, alleluia!”

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Called to experience our humanity in depth.

 

Today on Palm Sunday, we remember the triumphant entry of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem accompanied by a rejoicing crowd. This ushers us into an eventful week where we begin to witness the unfolding of the greatest story ever told – the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.

 

During these days we will find ourselves tossed between the extremes of humiliation and glory, ugliness and beauty, suffering and joy. It is the mystery of the cross that repels us and at the same time attracts us. These conflicting aspects of the cross overshadow the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem.

 

The King of Israel who comes in the name of the Lord foreshadows the man of passion with the crown of thorns, ridiculed as the king of the Jews; and rejected and deserted by his closest friends. The graceful face of Jesus, once radiant with the power of the Spirit, which was the source of consolation and joy to many distressed people, becomes an ugly sight to the onlookers.

 

The Palm Sunday awakens us to this hard reality of Jesus which is manifested in these two extreme experiences which shocks us, but at the same time transforms us and renews us from within. The key to this experience of renewal is to “see” the face of Jesus in a personal, intimate encounter with him. We can definitely see our own lives reflected on the human face of Jesus with all its deformities, weaknesses, sins and sufferings. At the same time, we can see the divine light reflected on his face. The vision of the face of Jesus is our motivation to follow him carrying our crosses.

 

This is because our Christian life is a life of faith, a “way” we walk with Jesus. Faith is a journey, a pilgrimage which progresses through different terrains and landscapes of life. Our deep human experiences of suffering and joy, frustration and hope, failure and success are not wasted, if we walk the way of faith with Jesus till the end.  The Holy Week is the time to experience our humanity in depth. The paradox of human life which baffles us with its good and bad surprises and turning points can be understood and appreciated, if we have a total view of life. We hear these contrasting tunes in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in his humiliation and glorification. We participate in the same destiny of Jesus.    May the Pascal mystery we celebrate in this Holy Week enable us to undergo a transformation and renewal of life with Jesus, experiencing the whole gamut of experiences, like a seed which falls into the earth to die, to sprout and to produce abundant fruits.

 

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa   

5th Sunday of Lent

Our Gospel on this day, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, is again taken from the Gospel according to John.

The raising and unbinding of Lazarus sheds light on how God wants to heal the dead areas of our lives and free us from whatever sins, burdens, or wounds prevent us from living life to the fullest.

We are often like Lazarus. We have areas in our lives that are dead and need to be enlivened again by Christ. But we also may be bound either by our own sins or by the hurts others have inflicted on us. We may carry great burdens or worries or dysfunctional patterns of relating to others that bind us down and keep us from peace and happiness. Jesus wants to free us from those wounds; he wants us, like Lazarus, to be unbound.

This week’s Gospel shows us Jesus wants us to let him into all those places that have been rendered dead by sin. He wants to weep with us in his humanity, but also to reveal his divinity and bring about a total healing. He wants our better selves to step forward as he says to each of us, “Come out!”

What has you bound?  What is holding you back or weighing you down?  What are the “burial bands” that keep you from being the beautifulperson God created you to be?

“Jesus, please untie me andset me free”.  May that be our prayer this day

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Jesus give us sight so we can see the hearts of His people.

This 4th Sunday of Lent we are using the readings from Cycle A as we are celebrating the 2nd Scrutiny for our Elect (Catechumens).  As a community we are asked to pray for them as they continue their journey towards the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation this coming Easter Vigil.   We pray that they will be freed from darkness and become “children of light,” as said in the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians.  Last week we heard of the Samaritan woman at the well.   This week we hear of the man born blind.  We have all heard the phrase “Seeing is believing.”  The idea comes from skeptical people who won’t believe anything is real or anything is true unless and until they see it for themselves.  In today’s Gospel account the phrase “Seeing is believing” is paradoxically both proved and disproved.  It is proved by the blind man eventually seeing Jesus and acknowledging that indeed Jesus is “from God.”  The Pharisees, on the other hand, men who were sighted, did not or would not see Jesus for who He is. The blind man could see the sighted Pharisees were blind.  Like the blind one this Sunday we ask Jesus for sight: to see those near us - their heart, not just their appearance - and above all to see the reality of whom Jesus is.  We ask Jesus to heal our blindness so we can see our own children, our family members, our fellow parishioners.  As the first reading today says, we want to see not just the outward appearances, but their heart.  Our modern world has a particular form of blindness.  We have microscopes to see things very small and telescopes to see distant objects, but often we do not see what is closest to us.  It is terrible to not see those close to us, but there is an even worse form of blindness: the failure to see Jesus.  The man born blind has a lot to teach us.  He sees Jesus first as a "man" - a fellow human, then prophet (one who speaks for God), then a judge and   finally, Lord - the one true God.  This weekend we are called to walk in the light of faith, the light of the Easter fire.  It is a light that will warm us. This flame will also dispel the darkness in our lives.  The question for us is, what will we see?

Lenten Blessings!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

 

John 4:5-42

Today, we read the subtle, solemn, and sacred dialogue between Jesus and the Woman at the Well; they are talking about water, but on very different levels. Jesus asks her for a drink of water from the well to slake his thirst from travel. She, who does not know with whom she is speaking, the Messiah and Savior of the World who has come to give living waters that well-up ever anew in the hearts of his followers, presumes that he does not know who she is. She has two identities, one that she is immensely ashamed of; namely, that she has had five husbands. But she also has a second identity that she is not yet aware of. She is a daughter of Israel with whom God wishes to share His own Divine Life. When Jesus subtly raises the conversation to the spiritual level by offering her ‘living water’, she is  unable to comprehend the immensity of his gift and returns to the level of material water and says he has no bucket to get this water out of the well. However, Jesus persist and says that those who drink the water he is offering ‘will never thirst again.’ Still on the material level, she wants this water so she will not have to keep coming back to the well. Finally, she realizes that Jesus is speaking of the water of life, and in fact of divine life. Of course, she cannot believe that the God of Israel could ever be interested in giving her such divine life-giving water and so she changes the topic to Jesus’ identity. But he immediately brings her back to the reality of her life that she is trying to avoid, her sinfulness that she judges as making her unable to be an subject of God’s love and life.  

This weekend we reflect on the gift of 'living water' given to each of us in and through the waters of Baptism through which God has implanted his own life in our hearts and minds.  Lent is the season to get more deeply and fully in touch with this immeasurable gift often hidden in us by our sins and sense of shame.  But it is there only needing to be rediscovered through prayer and penance, above all by having compassion on those who suffer and forgiving those who have offended us.

This week you are invited Lenten Mission which begins at the Masses this weekend and continues on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (Penance Service) evenings, starting at 7 p.m. with Fr. Charles Willingham, from St. Michael’s Norbertine Abbey in Orange, CA, leading the Mission.

 MONDAY, TUESDAY, & WEDNESDAY @ 7:00 p.m.

 

 By:  Father Pat McCormick

The Second Sunday of Lent

The readings this Sunday touch on a very central theme for the Lenten season: trust and self-surrender. This theme is beautifully portrayed in the first reading in the drama of Abraham trusting and accepting to sacrifice his only son Isaac, which shows great trust and faith in God. Because Abraham is ready to let go, God fulfills his promise of showering abundant blessings upon Abraham.

The Gospel is about the dramatic episode of the transfiguration on the mountain before the three disciples, Peter, James and John. The event is a clear manifestation of Jesus as the Son of God; an anticipation of his glory, beyond his death on the cross in the resurrection. The transfiguration therefore sets the stage for Jesus’ prediction of his suffering, death and resurrection. That prediction in Mark is the beginning of the intensifying enmity between Jesus and the religious leaders eventually leading to his trial, death and resurrection. The central message of the episode therefore is that God offers us his only Son Jesus, in order to save us through the Cross. There is a certain parallel here between Abraham's readiness to offer his only son Isaac to God, and the fulfilment of that story in God offering his only Son to die for our salvation. The transfiguration was one way of convincing the disciples that Jesus was truly the Son of God. They actually saw his glory. The voice coming from a cloud was perhaps the most convincing. "This is my Son, the Beloved: listen to him". The Gospel not only leads us to the mystery of Christ, but also invites us to listen as he calls us to trust and surrender ourselves completely to him so that he may save us. It is only in self-surrender that God blesses us abundant

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

THE LORD INVITES US TO A DESERT EXPERIENCE

Today’s gospel speaks of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after His baptism. He was driven by the Spirit into the desert. Jesus remains there for forty days without eating, tempted by Satan, He lives among wild beasts and angels minister to Him.

 

Jesus was in the desert for forty days. ‘Forty’ is a number often associated with intense spiritual experiences. God caused it to rain for forty days and forty nights to cleanse the earth (Gen. 7:12). The Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years. Moses spent forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:28) and Elijah journeyed forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb (1Kgs 19:8).

 

The desert was the school where Jesus came to distinguish between the voice of God which He should follow and the voice of Satan which is temptation. It is in the desert too that we come to know ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses and our divine calling.

 

How many voices do we hear from the moment we get up in the morning till the moment we go to sleep at night? Think of the countless voices in the daily paper, the soliciting voices on the radio and the television, the voices of those who live and work with us, not forgetting our own unceasing inner voices. In the desert we leave most of these voices behind to focus on distinguishing between the guiding voice of God and the tempting voice of Satan. In the desert we come to know ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, and our divine calling. In the desert Jesus encountered beasts and angels.

 

There are wild beasts and angels in every one of us. Sometimes, owing to our superficial self-knowledge, we fail to recognize the wild beasts in us and give in to vainglory, or we fail to recognize the angel in us and give in to self-hatred. But in the silence and recollection of the desert we come to terms with ourselves as we really are, we are reconciled with the beasts and the angels in our lives and then we begin to experience peace again for the first time.

 

Lent is the time for the desert experience. We cannot all afford to buy a camel and head off for the desert. But we can all create a desert space in our overcrowded lives. We can set aside a place and time to be alone daily with God, a time to distance ourselves from the many noises and voices that bombard our lives every day, a time to hear God’s word, a time to rediscover who we are before God, a time to say yes to God and no to Satan as Jesus did. Welcome to Lent!  Welcome to the desert!

 

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We see Jesus love and compassion and healing power on full display in today’s Gospel Reading from Mark.  A leper comes to him and begs to be healed.  Jesus, moved with pity, stretches out his hand and heals the man.  And then he tells him something somewhat puzzling,  “See that you tell no one anything . . .

Of course, the man does exactly what many of us would do --- he immediately tells everyone.  After all, this is a “miracle”, an unmistakable action of God in their midst. And the former leper wants to make sure everyone knows about it.

Jesus knew that if word got out that he could heal leprosy (or any other disease) he would be inundated with people coming to him from everywhere.  

 Is that the only reason Jesus told the man to keep quiet?

My guess is that Jesus didn’t want his message, his promises to be reduced to simply what he could do for people from the “outside”the “flashy” sorts of miracles that get all the attention.  He wanted to make sure that people realized that the real “miracles” he wanted to “perform” were on the “inside”, miracles of the heart, soul, and spirit.

The miracles within each of us are really what Jesus died to make possible. The power of the resurrection allows the hardened heart to soften, the cruel heart to become kind and compassionate, the selfish heart to become generous, the vindictive heart to become forgiving, and the sinful heart to be washed clean --- enabling us to once again start down a different path, a journey into the arms of our loving God for all eternity.

I don’t know about you, but if all of that happened within me --- that would be a miracle!  

So let’s let God do precisely that --- not just today, but every moment of our lives.  And it’s ok --- God gives us permission to tell everyone.

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

St. Mark records in Chapter 1 an early incident in Capernaum where “all who were ill or possessed by demons” were brought to Jesus’ door, and he cured many and drove out demons. Then Jesus rises early and goes off to pray. Realizing he is not there, the disciples go searching and upon finding him, and presuming he does not understand what is happening back in Capernaum, they tell him “everyone is looking for you”. To their puzzlement, after time in prayer to his Father, he tells them “let us go to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come”. And so they do. What a strange turn of events. Instead of healing the newly arrived sick and suffering, he seems to have abandoned them to their sorrows which hardships the people have just seen him heal in the lives of others. But what does it mean? It certainly is not the understandable ways of man that Jesus is following.

His mission is much more than just healing the sick and troubled, which he alone can do and very often will do. If he would only take care of their sufferings and hardships he could be the head rabbi or mayor of Capernaum or governor of Galilee, enjoying their gratitude and respect.

The answer to this question slowly evolves itself in the revelations of St. Mark’s Gospel as it also slowly evolves itself in the life of everyone who “believes in Jesus”. He does not always do what we firmly believe he and he alone could do for us. What does it mean? We all experience this in life, and some experience this mystery often and for long periods of time. 

By:  Father Pat McCormick

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings of this Sunday draws our attention to importance of credible witness from one's faith conviction. The bottom line is that if our words match the life we live, people would be astonished by what we do and say, because the Spirit will be working in us. The main point in the first reading is to show that a prophet’s credibility comes directly from God. As we hear at the end of the reading, there were and still there are false prophets today, who presume to speak in the Lord's name or those who” speak in the name of other gods…", claiming to speak the truth, while at the same time embracing hostility and divisiveness.

In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus gives a concrete example of what it means to speak from one's faith conviction. We hear in the Gospel that "the people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority”. Jesus needed no credentials. The source of his authority was his intimate relationship with the Father that evoked a sense of deep conviction behind his teaching. We also encounter the dramatic episode of chasing away an evil spirit from a person in the Synagogue. People watched spellbound as the evil spirit threw the person down and with a loud cry left the person. What really convinced the people more was his intimate relationship with the Father. He spoke from the heart.

The readings challenge us to let the teaching of Jesus to transform our lives and that his healing power may restore us to spiritual wellbeing. The healing of the person with unclean spirit is a sign of the kingdom that Jesus still proclaims through the Church and through us even today. Miracles still do happen! The best proof is the power of God’s word that transforms us to live in ways that amaze and invite others to follow Jesus Christ.

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel St Mark presents us with his version of the call of the first disciples: Simon, Andrew, James and John.  These disciples left their profession (fishing), in fact, they left everything – family, their livelihood and all they had to follow Jesus. Thus, they dedicated themselves fully to Christ and his course.  They left their profession and embraced a vocation.  They were called from a life of working for themselves to embrace service to others.

People are still being called today by the Lord to embrace this life of total commitment to Christ. It is our prayer that many more men and women may respond to this call to become priests and religious.  Most of us may not have to sacrifice our professions, ambitions and families the way these first disciples did. But there is the need for all of us to cultivate and strengthen the sense of vocation in our lives. We need to be conscious of the fact that we are being called everyday by God to an intimate life with Christ and to contribute towards the advancement of his kingdom of love, peace and joy in our family and in our world.

 A break with the past is an important characteristic feature of vocation. We need to break from anything and everything that does not set us free to promote the kingdom. This breaking from the past should become a constant practice, for as Cardinal John Henry Newman reminds us: we are not called once only, but many times, all through our lives. God extends his call to us in different places in different events and occasions, at different times. We are called from grace to grace and from holiness to holiness!

Sometimes we are afraid to respond to God’s call because of fear of the unknown and also because our focus is so much on what we are giving up or leaving behind. But let us remember the first followers became fishers of men: Peter’s first sermon led to the conversion and baptism of 3,000 people! Indeed, they gained more than they left behind; for, to respond to the call of the Lord is to journey intimately with him into eternal life with the Father! 

By:  Father Nick Apetorgbor 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

We begin Ordinary Time in our liturgical year by reflecting on what it means to be “called” by the Lord Jesus. In the Gospel, it is John the Baptist who points two of his followers in the direction of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” One of them is Andrew and he later brings his own brother along. Here it is clear that the call to follow Jesus can come through others and does not necessarily have to come directly from God Himself.

      We are invited to reflect on our own lives. Most of us probably don’t think that we are called by God. Yet the Scriptures shows us that each person has a special call from God: to serve God, perhaps to be married, perhaps to be celibate, perhaps to lead and perhaps to follow someone else. A call from God is a call to live. To be called does not require perfection on our behalf, only fidelity and holy listening.

       In order to hear a call, we must become silent so that we can listen. This is probably the greatest challenge of all in our present age. There is so much noise and so much distraction and so many people and things that want our attention. Modern technology is now a major distraction that it has overtaken our attention and priorities.

       Our Catholic Christian tradition tells us that we must listen to God’s voice in the Scriptures. We must come to recognize that voice of God speaking to us in revelation and in the Church. We want to know how God speaks in Scripture and in the Church so that we can listen more attentively to how God might be speaking to us.

       On this Second Sunday of the Year, the Lord Jesus offers us the invitation to listen and to respond, "Come and see!"  Our response should be that of Samuel, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening!" 

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

FEAST of the EPIPHANY

St. Matthew alone records the coming of the Three Wise Men from the East to whom the Epiphany, the revelation of the Divine Savior’s birth, takes place. These holy seekers of the truth are given the knowledge of God dwelling secretly among mankind. In their joy and gratitude they bestow royal gifts upon this poor Child, believing they have found a treasurer of immense value in Bethlehem. The Wise Men are amazed to find so many to whom the Child was first sent had no idea who it was that now lived among men. God revealed the gift of His Divine Son to the Gentiles, the non-Jews of the world, represented by the Three Wise Men. And God revealed that all who genuinely sought the truth about God would discover in own their lives, the Infant Divine Child, even today!

 Fr. Patrick J. McCormick: Biography

Born and raised in Erie, PA; ordained a priest on Dec 20, 1968 at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

1968-72: priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, GA

1973-77: faculty member of the North American College Seminary, Rome; Director of Liturgy

1977-90: pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Hartwell, GA, and St. Mary’s Parish, Toccoa, GA

1990-2010: Chaplain U.S. Navy:

1990-93: Subbase, LaMaddalena, Italy

1993-95: USS Constellation, Carrier, CV-64, San Diego, CA

1995-98: NAWS, China Lake, CA

1998-2001: Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan

2001-03: Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan

2003-07: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

2007-09: Camp Egers, Kabul, Afghanistan

2009-10: Marine Corps Base, Kaneohe

2010-15: Chaplain, Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, FL

2015-17: Chaplain, Army Garrison, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands

 Fr. Pat will help out at St. John’s until May, 2018.

 

 By: Father Pat McCormick

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

The Sunday after the Christmas is traditionally called the feast of the Holy Family. Christmas itself is the feast of God entering a family to stay with human beings. The Church has always presented the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as a model family for Christians to imitate, calling it the Holy Family.

But for the people living in the twenty first century, there is very little that makes it attractive to them. This family was just too simple and ordinary. Though it had some royal background, the life of the family members did not reflect it.  It did not have any financial or social security. It struggled hard to win its daily bread; it went through a lot of suffering and pain. In fact, many of the features which we cherish and long for were absent in the family of Jesus. Still the Church calls it a model family and a holy family.

Jesus was the center of the Holy Family. God called the other two members of the family and prepared them and blessed them with special graces to welcome Jesus into their midst. Mary and Joseph accepted Jesus to be a unique gift to their family. As parents of Jesus, they lived totally for him.  Parents must learn to keep Jesus at the center of their marriage. It would help them tackle many problems that might arise in their life. 

Secondly, as we heard in our second reading, members of the Holy family had love and respect for each other. Mary and Joseph loved and respected each other; and showed great love for Jesus whom the Lord entrusted to their care and protection. They taught him the values of life, culture and religion. Under their watchful eyes Jesus ‘increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor’. Likewise, Jesus honored his parents. 

The first reading from the Book of Sirach is a fine interpretation of the fourth commandment. It admonishes us to love and respect our parents.  A child’s respect for his parents does not end at age 18 but beyond until their parents depart the face of the earth. Parents in their old age need the loving and caring presence of their children and grandchildren. In a family where the bonds of love and respect are strong, the old and the infirm will be well cared for.

The other characteristic that is noticeable in the Holy Family was its commitment to follow the will of God in everything. All the members of the Holy Family sought the will of God unreservedly. There was no trace of selfishness and vested interest in their life. Their unwavering faith in the providence of God enabled them to accept the joys and sorrows of life with serenity. They did not complain about anything. They accepted every happening in the family with humility. They were convinced that whatever happened to them was the Lord’s doing.

This attitude of theirs increased their love and respect for one another. They trusted each other as they trusted God. So, they stood united in the ups and downs of their life. What we see in many Christian families today is the lack of openness to God and one another which consequently leads to disunity.  At a time when many families are breaking up and breaking down all over, the Holy Family presents itself as our source of great hope and consolation. There is perhaps no other way to keep each family intact and moving onwards except through the virtue of sheer self-sacrifice and self-giving for each other in the family. May the Holy Family intercede for all families that they may remain one and united.

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

Advent calls us to surrender to the will of God!

Advent calls us to surrender to the will of God!

 

Our secular calendar marks the days one season ends and another begins.  This weekend our liturgical calendar marks the ending of another season - Advent, and the beginning of another - Christmas.  Each season should be celebrated to the fullest with their unique characteristics at their proper times.  Especially this year, when the Fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve.  Even though we only have hours before the Advent season ends, we still have time to fully celebrate what Advent is and means to us.  In the readings for this fourth Sunday of Advent we can find the proper guidance on how we should end this celebration of Advent. 

The first reading from the Second Book of Samuel shares a wonderful account of David and of David’s desire to build a house for the Lord.  The point of this account, however, is that all of us must recognize that God is the center of life and not us.  At one level we can do nothing for God.  That should not stop us from trying to do everything for God!  Even though all we have comes from God, we can still return His love by striving to live for Him and striving to be faithful to all that He asks of us. 

The second reading from the Letter to the Romans speaks of the mystery of salvation now being revealed.  Only when we believe in a personal God who loves us does any “plan of God” make sense.  Sure God does not have to “plan” the way that we humans do, but God always has our good in His mind and is working to bring about His goodness and love within us.  Part of the “plan” of God was sending His Only Son to save us from ourselves.   This plan was revealed through an angel to a young lady (and us) in the gospel of Luke.  Mary’s yes to the angel’s words set the stage for the greatest event in human history: the conception and subsequent birth of our Savior.   The incarnation is relived every time we echo Mary’s “yes” to God’s call to bring his Christ into our world; when we accept, as did Mary, God’s asking us to make the gospel of Jesus alive in our own time and place.

We are standing right at the front door of Christmas and before we enter, Mary has been presented to us, this last Sunday of Advent to be our model.  Let us follow her example of faith & holiness, humility & simplicity, obedience & surrender to the will of God, as we await the coming of our Savior into the world and into our lives.  In the Advent of our lives, God Calls us to bring his Christ into our own time and place, to put aside our own doubts and fears to say, as Mary does, I am your servant, O God.  Be it done to me according to your word.

Peace!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

Third Sunday of Advent

“Rejoice in the Lord always”. This Sunday we light the third candle of the Advent Wreath. Its desert rose color signifies joy, which is one of the Advent season themes. For that reason, today is called Gaudete Sunday which means, “Rejoice!”

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah says: I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul. Paul in the Second Reading exhorts us to “Rejoice always.” The joy in question is not necessarily feeling good when things are going well. It is possible to feel a certain kind of joy even when things are going badly, and that is what we call joy in the Lord who strengthens us in our hope of salvation. In the opening prayer for this Sunday, we ask God that, as we look forward to the birth of Christ, we may experience the joy of salvation. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading tells us that he is sent by God to announce the joyful news of salvation to the people of Israel. He proclaims a message of salvation to a people in bondage. The familiar passage of Isaiah 61 is a clear reference to the Messiah, who is already present. "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord". In the Responsorial Psalm, we use the beautiful words of Mary in the Magnificat to express our joy as we, like Mary wait for the birth of our Saviour. "My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour". 

In the second reading, Paul urges us to “Rejoice always” because we have already discovered God's saving action in Christ. Thus, Paul invites us to rejoice at all times and to pray constantly, and for all things to give thanks to God. It might be difficult to find the realization of this message of hope and joy in our broken world of today, where there is so much suffering. Like Isaiah, John the Baptist in the gospel prophesies change for the better, because the one who is to come after him, Christ, is already here bringing good news to the poor. The message of this Sunday message is found in the prophesy of Isaiah who foretells the coming of the Messiah who is sent to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord. That is why we need to rejoice because the Messiah is already in our midst accomplishing precisely what Isaiah foretold. As we go home after Mass today, we go transformed by the good news of joy. Let us share that joy with those we meet throughout this week.

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

The Second Sunday of Advent

Each one of us is called to be a prophet of Christ.  The word prophet comes from the Greek word meaning “one who proclaims.”  Not all prophets wear camel skins and eat locusts – there are prophets among us right now who proclaim in their ministries, in their compassion and their kindness, in their courageous commitment to what is right that Jesus the Messiah has come.

 Every Advent, John the Baptizer calls us to embrace the meaning of our own baptisms: compassion, forgiveness, justice, and selflessness. 

 As an “Advent people,” we are caught (like the Israelites returning to Jerusalem – 1st Reading) between a world that is dying and at the same time, a world waiting to be reborn.  The work of Advent is to bring about that rebirth: to prepare a world that is ready for the Lord's coming. 

     In the baptismal call to become prophets of the God who comes, we are to do the work of transforming the wastelands around us into harvests of justice and forgiveness, to create highways for our God to enter and re-create our world in charity and peace.

This second Sunday of Advent we continue, 'to straighten the path and fill the valleys' and make full preparation for the one who is going to come into our lives.  Our God is awaiting God and he is eagerly waiting for our invitation in order to enter into our lives.  He is God of patience and is ready to wait in love.  Let us reflect then at this time on what changes we should make in our own lives, not just now but in the year to come, to be the kind of persons, God would like us to be. 

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe  

 

“Jesus is coming soon. Look busy!”

Look busy!  Looking busy would certainly be one way of describing many of us at the start of Advent. We are busy.  And we will likely get busier as Christmas day approaches – busy with shopping, card- writing, parties – all that goes into preparing for Christmas.  But it is not busyness that the prophet Isaiah had in mind when, in the first reading he says of God, “You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways.”  Isaiah give us a clue to how we should be acting during Advent and, indeed, throughout the entire liturgical year that begins this weekend – doing right, remembering God and God’s ways.  Be watchful! Be alert!  On the gospel of the apostle Mark we are called this Advent to be watchful, to be prepared, and to recognize the signs of the times.  Advent urges us to “stay awake” and not to sleep through the opportunities life gives us to discover God in our midst.  Advent calls us to “watch,” to pay attention to the signs of God’s unmistakable presence in our lives, to live life expectantly not as a death sentence but as a gift from God.  We begin a new liturgical year at the end of time.  Jesus’ brief parable of the master’s return is a call to realize the trust God has placed in us in the present to create his kingdom of justice and peace to transcend all time.  Jesus counters the conventional fears of the apocalypse with “signs” of hope and new beginnings.  Our lives are an Advent, a prelude, to the life of God to come.  While confronting us with the reality that our lives are finite and fragile, these Sundays of Advent also assure us of the mercy of God, who is with us in the midst of all the struggles of our everyday Advent journey to the dwelling place of God.  Advent challenges us to see our lives not as a disjointed set of experiences and circumstances but as a pilgrimage to the dwelling place of God – a journey in which every moment, every step is a new revelation of God’s presence in our midst.  God is both the road and the destination of our pilgrimage.

 

Have a blessed Advent!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

Page 1 of 9