Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The book of Proverbs tells us that Heaven exists in the quest for Divine wisdom, that is, the quest to discover Yahweh's presence in everything and everyone. In our First reading (Proverbs 9), Wisdom is depicted as a gracious hostess inviting the people to a fine banquet. This is an imaginative way of speaking about God as the wise host who invites all of humanity to learn from his wisdom. "Wisdom" becomes the symbolic image of the search for God's will.

Like Woman-Wisdom Jesus invites us to come and eat of his bread, but unlike Woman-Wisdom he declares himself to be that bread and that wine. More specifically he calls on us to eat his flesh and to drink his blood. This was one of Jesus' most difficult teaching. His language of eating his flesh and drinking his blood was a shock to the crowds. Indeed, Jewish law prohibited the eating of human flesh, and as blood was considered to be the actual life of a living being, drinking of blood, was also prohibited in Judaism (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:10, 12, 14; cf. Acts 15:29). Hence, we can sympathize with those who object, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ However, while Jesus was speaking on the level of spiritual realities, the crowds were still on the physical level, and could not get the point.

We cannot hear this language without thinking of the words of Jesus to his disciples at the last supper when, he took bread and said, ‘Take, eat, this is my body’, and took a cup of wine, saying, ‘Take, drink, this is the new covenant in my blood.’ He gave himself to his disciples, his body and blood, under the form of bread and wine.  So, the banquet of wisdom, to which the first reading invites us, is the banquet depicted in today’s Gospel. The early Christians often identified Jesus as the Wisdom of God. They regarded the Eucharist as Wisdom’s banquet, where they shared in the Divine Wisdom now present in Jesus.

The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 34), invites all to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”  Jesus invites us to his table and he puts himself before us as food and drink. In a language that is very daring he declares himself to be our food and drink, the one who can satisfy our deepest hungers and thirsts, our hunger and thirst for life. In today’s Gospel passage, he declares, ‘anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. "Eternal life" is complete and lasting happiness, satisfying our deepest longings and realizing all our dreams. Our participation in the Eucharist also concretizes and energizes our relationship with Christ and with one another.

In conclusion: 1) Every human being is blessed with an insatiable longing for God. We want God as our Father to hold us gently in His arms, keeping us safe throughout the dangers we face. But often we use substitutes as an escape from that need: fast living, fast food, fast cars, needless luxuries, unrestricted sexual fulfillment.  But let us remember the truth that unless we keep the hunger for God strong in our hearts, we will eventually realize the emptiness of our lives without Him.  2) We come to the Eucharist hungering and thirsting for life, and the Lord feeds us with his word and with the bread of life. We in turn, need to allow our body to be broken and our blood to be shed for others as Jesus did; to be channels of that life, of that love, for each other. That is why, at the end of the Mass, we are sent out from the Eucharist as life givers, as agents of God’s life and love within our homes, our society, and our world.

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The proverb, “familiarity breeds contempt” becomes true as we read the first reading and the gospel this Sunday. The First reading from the Book of Kings Elijah is threatened by the king’s wife and Elijah flees to Mount Horeb. While there, God sends a messenger with bread and water. This gives Elijah the strength to walk to the mountain. The bread given to Elijah seems to foreshadow the Eucharist and its power to keep us faithful on our personal journey to God. Just as the Lord drew Elijah to the holy Mount, we too are drawn to the mountain of the Lord (the Church) where the Lord strengthens us with the living bread from heaven, namely, the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Sunday's Gospel begins with the Jews complaining about Jesus' claims regarding his identity. They knew his family: that he was born of Mary and that he was the son of Joseph. How could he then have come down from heaven? Jesus responds to their complaints by saying that those who listen to God will recognize that Jesus is the one sent from God. Those who believe will have eternal life. Jesus concludes with the central teaching on the Eucharist. He promises that the bread of life will bring eternal life to those who partake of it. Jesus tells us that the bread of life will be his own flesh, given for the life of the world. In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus repeat the words of last Sunday Gospel, that he is the bread of life.  We also hear Jesus add that his is the living bread.  Both of these statements help us understand better the gift that Jesus gives us in the Eucharist.  We celebrate this gift of Jesus each time we gather for Mass- the Eucharist.  We take Jesus with us when we sent to become what we have eaten- Jesus Christ.  In a deeper way we become the bread of life, broken for others to eat.  We can only do that if we encounter Jesus more deeply.  The bottom line is that hasty familiarity with the Eucharist can be an obstacle to such a deeper encounter.  

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Do not work for food that perishes...

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus told to the crowd

 “Do not work for food that perishes . . .”

It’s hard to not work for “food that perishes”.  And of course, that phrase is meant to include all of our earthly needs and all of our wants too.  There are many things that we need in this life: food, water, shelter, money, medical care, etc. . .  Is God really saying that we shouldn’t work toward these things?

I don’t think so.  It seems that Jesus is trying to make sure we have the proper relationship between God and these other things, that we don’t relentlessly pursue the things of this world at the expense of our relationship with God.  In other words, the way we purse these other needs, the choices we make and the attitides we possess while doing so, matter.  It's a kind of spiritual trap to try to use any means possible and go to any length to try to meet our earthly needs.  When we do that, we are essentially saying to God and the world, that our hope ultimately lies with the fruits of our own efforts.  And yet God knows that these things simply don't last.  They are not eternal.  We, however, somehow seem to forget that.  And the hunger persists.   

What are the things in our life that have all our attention and motivation and focus?  What are the “perishable foods” we are pursuing --- worldly things that ultimately cannot satisfy?  Where are the areas of our life in which God seems to be almost irrelevant, an afterthought?  Put simply --- what or whom can we live without? 

Our God wants to be real food for us.  He wants to feed us with every good thing, satisfy us in ways that only he can.

What are we filling ourselves up with instead?

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

For Jesus there is no small gift that cannot be transformed to benefit a multitude. Thus there is a great lesson we learn from the Gospel story of the little boy who gives away his lunch. That gift was so insignificant to God the creator of the universe, yet the Son of God takes it and multiplies to feed five thousand. One lesson that Jesus wants to teach us this Sunday is that material needs are relevant to the work of evangelization. Jesus' own example of sensitivity to the immediate situation of human need is an important pastoral approach. He takes human need seriously. What does the story of the multiplication of loaves and fish mean in the context of our parish where we are currently focusing on ecclesial lay ministries? The story of the boy giving away his lunch may be compared to our smallest gifts, talents and treasure. 

 

 

We all have many small but beautiful gifts we can offer.  Who in our parish cannot afford to offer a few minutes of prayer to God each day?  Some possess talents for services like reading during Mass on Sunday, some are cantors, others play the piano, we have catechists, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, lectors and ushers, to name just a few.  The time you give for these ministries may look insignificant, but the Lord takes your small gift and multiplies it to nourish us all daily and on Sundays.  Your free will donation in the collection basket is another example of your offering to the Lord.  When the Lord takes your gift, He multiplies it to nourish our spiritual hunger in many ways.  The prophecy of Elisha and the multiplication of loaves by Jesus is fulfilled right in our eyes.  We all get enough and some left over!  I would like to imagine that probably the little boy was given some of the left over to take home.  What a blessing when we give our small gifts!  

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Leadership after the example of Christ

Leadership is very important in every human society, and good leaders are those who truly have the welfare of the people at heart. 

  

In the first reading today, we heard about God's disappointment with the shepherd-leaders of his flock.  Jeremiah has some harsh words for the leaders of Israel, both religious and political:  In Jeremiah's time the kings were often called shepherds because they had a pastoral duty to look after their people in God's place.  Jeremiah has some harsh words for the leaders of Israel, both religious and political:  "Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered."  This is because the leaders were not up to their calling and as a result had scattered the sheep committed to their care by God.  

 

But God will not leave the flock unattended. The responsorial psalm, speaks of God as shepherd, who will act as guide for the faithful who walk in the darkness. And at the end of the first reading, we hear God promising that he, himself, would raise up a wise and honest king to rule them in justice and truth. That prophetic promise was, of course, realized in Jesus the great shepherd-king, whom the Father sent to be the wise and honest Leader of his people.

 

In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus fulfilling this role as shepherd of the people. Jesus and his apostles are portrayed as being so taken up with ministering to the crowds that they had no time even to eat.  Jesus sees that there is need of rest from such turmoil.  But the crowds anticipate him and come to his place of rest even before He and the apostles arrive.  Then the gospel pictures Jesus as a compassionate shepherd. When he got out of the boat and encounters their need (their thirst and huger for God), he shows enormous pity and love for them, because "They were like sheep without a shepherd," and he begins to teach them.  By choosing the texts from Jeremiah and from Psalm 22 to precede the mention of "shepherd" and "sheep" in the gospel, the liturgy deliberately evokes the entire tradition of the "shepherd" in the history of God's people.  Jesus is thus implicitly presented as the definitive Good Shepherd.  And how does Jesus come to the aid of His sheep?  By teaching them 

 

So, Jesus teaches us, what it is to be a true leader – a true leader is one who has true compassion for the people he has accepted to lead. The compassion that Jesus felt for his people was much more than just a mere human feeling or emotion. It impelled him to do everything possible to relieve their suffering by totally committing himself to them and to their needs.   

                                                                                                                                       

So the heart of a true shepherd and a good leader is also what God expects of all those called to lead by example: civil and ecclesiastical (church) leaders, above all bishops (the successors of the apostles), priests, deacons, religious, but also of all of us, the people of God. We think especially of teachers and parents, those who hold ministry in the Church – parish councilors, Eucharistic ministers, lectors and catechists etc. etc.; all of us who are in any way are called to help build up the Body of Christ, the Church.

 

One of the great deficiencies of our contemporary Catholic world is the great ignorance of so many Catholics of their faith.  The Church and the world urgently need informed Catholics who are able to witness to God's plan of unity for the world in the person of Jesus Christ (Ephesians.)  On the one hand, the faithful need to express their thirst and hunger for God.  On the other hand, to be true leaders after the example of Christ, we the leaders also need to have time to regularly sit at Jesus's feet and allow him to instruct us so that we can truly be relevant to those we are called to lead. 

 

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings of this Sunday invite us to reflect on the missionary vocation of the Church. The Church is called not only to proclaim the Good News of salvation realized in Jesus Christ and offered to all, but also to boldly confront the evil forces of this world. In the first reading, the prophet Amos is sent by the Lord to Bethel to preach against the evil lifestyle of the priests and leaders because they misled the people by worshiping a golden calf. In this reading the Lord told Amos, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” He is called upon to speak the word of God as a prophet. People of the time were aware of the role of a prophet.

In the Gospel episode Jesus sends the twelve with authority over unclean spirits. He sends them to proclaim a message of repentance. Repentance is a sorrow for our sins - a recognition that my sins have hurt me, other people and God. Repentance opens up the doors of God's loving mercy and forgiveness. When people listened and repented, the Apostles could then drive out demons and cure illnesses by anointing the sick with oil. When we repent and pray, wonderful things can happen in our families, our parish and our world. This message of repentance is urgent. To underscore the urgency, Jesus “instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money” in their wallets, with sandals and without a spare tunic. In other words, they belong to Christ and thus they must be totally dependent on divine providence. What is the message? 1) Just as God sent Amos with a severe message to the priests and leaders of his day, the Church through us is sent to confront today’s worship of false gods. 2) Just as Jesus sent his apostles to proclaim repentance and to heal the sick, Jesus sends us into our communities to bring about God’s loving mercy, compassion and healing. 3) Through our Baptism, we are called and sent on this same mission that must be accompanied by boldness through prayerful faithfulness to Christ.  

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

 This past 4th of July celebration marked our nation’s 242th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The most famous sentence in this declaration is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ARE unalienable rights from God. And the order in which they are mentioned are critically important.

However for some people the pursuit of happiness can become a debauched value that can be more important than the values of life and liberty. And we see this play out in our experience and in our readings this weekend. The first reading from the prophet Ezekiel, who is a man of God, show us that his values are in proper order. God had given him the gifts of life and liberty. And he defined his happiness by doing the will of God, which meant being sent to proclaim the word of God to the “hard of face” and “obstinate of heart”. If we define our pursuit of happiness like Ezekiel as doing the will of God in whatever difficult circumstance we find ourselves in, we may have the grace to persevere through difficult situations, and over time be surprised that we are happier people for it.

The second reading of St. Paul is from a letter to the Corinthians who were an early Church community that were famous for fighting with each other. Paul speaks about “a thorn in the flesh” that keeps him from being elated. What was that “thorn”? I think it is safe to say, every person in Corinth and every one of us has something that qualifies as Paul’s thorn in the flesh that keeps us humble. We can be successful at so many things in life but there is that one thing in our life that is like a brick wall. A profligate pursuit of happiness might contribute to the pain of this thorn in the flesh. But not for St. Paul who despite his trials his happiness was rooted in Christ rather than his ego.

The Gospel reading shows us that even the Son of God isn’t let off the hook. Like Ezekiel and Paul, Jesus encounters a town filled with hard faces and obstinate hearts. It is hard to believe that the most resistance Jesus would receive outside of Jerusalem would be in his own home town of Nazareth with the folks he grew up with. This brings a new reality to the phrase: “No man is a prophet in his own land.”

Sadly the last people to allow us to grow and change are those closest to us. Jealousy drives all of us to prevent others from doing better than us. Worst of all is our own personal refusal to grow and to change. The Nazarenes stood up in the path of Jesus’ ability to preach and do mighty deeds. Sometimes we also can get in God’s way. Many times we find ourselves capable to hamper the power of God. As we leave behind this past week celebrations on another 4th of July, we can ask ourselves, “What is our faith made of?” As we contemplate our rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our families and in our community, how does God fit into the picture? Would it make a difference in how we treat our family members? Would it make a difference in how we treat our coworkers? Would it make a difference in how we treat our classmates, our most vulnerable in society, if God was ever more grounded in our understanding of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? The Good news is: God wants to give us even more than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In Christ, God offers us the gifts of eternal life, spiritual liberty and therefore real happiness.

Peace!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

‘The Importance of Faith’

This Sunday’s gospel reading from Mark, presents us with a practical example of faith in God, especially in difficult and hopeless situations. Here the faith of Jairus and the faith of the woman suffering from hemorrhage becomes a model for all of us.

Every day, we are confronted with situations that challenges our faith in God. Such situations could be job related, family problems, sickness, death, poverty, failure, etc. However, in these difficult moments, let us continue to seek the face of God. Let us seek Him with faith, total dependence, and humility as Jairus and the sick woman did. We need to accompany these dispositions with prayer because it is in prayer that we find Jesus, hear him speak to our hearts and have a deep encounter with him. We need to touch Jesus spiritually by our prayer life and power has to go out of him. This can only be done with a strong faith.

Therefore, we do not lose hope when trials and tribulations come our way. Let us invite Jesus into our problems and be patient to see the final outcome. On the way, Jairus lost his daughter but at the end, she was restored to life. Jesus is here with us. So let us be strong in our faith and see our divine healing on the way for God loves us all. 

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

“A man sent from God, whose name was John (Jn 1:6); who “came to testify to the light” (Lk 1:17). These phrases from the Entrance Antiphon of today’s Mass lead us into the solemnity we celebrate this Sunday, - the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

The Gospel reading is like a drama that unfolds with a mysterious birth and leads to naming a ceremony on the eighth day by relatives not knowing that the child has already been named from above.  His name is John, which means "the Lord is gracious."  The mysterious birth of John reveals the mercy and favor of God in preparing his chosen people for the coming of the Messiah, the Christ.  The Gospel gives us a lead into the mystery of this child, John the Baptist.  "What will this child turn out to be," relatives wonder.  John's life was fueled by one burning passion to point others to Jesus Christ and the coming kingdom.  It was his task to awaken the interest of people on the immanent coming of the kingdom, and therefore the importance of receiving a baptism of repentance.  John's mission was one of leading his listeners to Jesus, the Messiah. 

What do we learn from this solemnity?  What is the significance of John's message for our lives today? 

1) John the Baptist challenges us to embrace his message of true repentance in preparation for receiving Christ when he comes; 2) Like John the Baptist, we too are given the mission of point others to Christ by our life of witness, pointing others the way to Jesus Christ; 3) Let us pray for the gift of true repentance and the grace to be true witnesses of Christ as John the Baptist was to the point of martyrdom..   

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

The Kingdom of God is like a Seed

One of the problems we face in our Christian life and ministry is discouragement; discouragement because of our recurring personal weakness, discouragement because our words of advice and the good example we give to our children do not seem to be bearing fruit, discouragement because our Christian communities are not growing, discouragement because of pervasive selfishness, greed, and conflicts in our world. With all these problems, we often wonder whether there is any hope for our children especially with regard to their faith and whether the church has any future in our country. How about the issue of the sanctity of life?

 

With the help of the three readings of this Sunday, we are encouraged. The readings are centered on the idea of the seed. In the seed there is power. Once sown in the field, there is little the farmer can do but wait patiently for it to sprout and grow. The issue of sprouting and growing is not the farmer’s work. It is God’s. It is true that the farmer prepares the field and defends it against animals and thieves. But most of the work is God’s. First of all the power in the seed to germinate, grow and produce fruit is made possible by God. Secondly, it is God who supplies the necessary ingredients for this process to work - He sends the rain and the sunshine, which the plants need to grow. The farmer spends several hours in the field and retires at the end of the day but God is at work at each tiny plant at all times.

 

Jesus in the two seed-parables for instance, addresses the human tendency to believe that human fulfillment comes mostly through our plans and efforts. As a result, when things do not turn out as we have planned and worked to achieve, we become discouraged and lose hope. Jesus reminds us that the coming and growth of God’s reign is the work of God’s love.  So, these two parables tell us three things: First, Jesus tells us to hope. There are occasions when our faith is put to test. It seems that our faith is useless. Let us keep on hoping. Second, Jesus tells us to be patient - patient with ourselves, our children and others. Third, Jesus tells us to trust God. God planted the seed of His Kingdom inside us. He understands what is happening in our heart even if we don’t, so we should trust.         

                                                        

What Jesus is telling us today is that God’s life in us is like a seed planted in the ground. The success of the Kingdom of God both within us and in the world is more of God’s work than ours. God himself planted the seed of faith through the word of God preached to us. No one can stop this seed from growing. Our duty is to   hopefully nurture it, trustfully and patiently, by reading the word of God and by praying and receiving the sacraments. Like the farmer we need to cooperate with the grace of God by doing our best to make our Christian lives, our families and our communities what God wants them to be. Do we effectively prepare our hearts? Do we avail ourselves to be taught by God? Do we participate very well in the sacraments? Do we make the faith available to our children and lead them to understand as they grow? Do we truly trust in God and pray to him at all times?

 

By:  Fr. Joseph Ayinpuusa 

Sincerity and living our faith!

The reading from Genesis shows how Adam and Eve, exercising their free will, have gone against God’s intentional will that God’s creatures should live in innocence, harmony with creation and peace with each other.  Their sin is about being exposed before the Lord.  They were revealed as proud; they wanted to be like God.  Their desires were more important than God's will.  It is sad, but in many occasions we can look into the depths of the ‘original sin’ and see our own refusal to submit to God's will as well as our own rationalization for the things we do wrong.  Because of sin we do hide in fear causing a separation from God and our most intimate loved ones.  It becomes difficult to say “I’m sorry.”  We don’t even want God to find us and so avoid quiet moments for prayer.  But we need to remember that God wants us to turn to him, stand before him without fear and allow him to transform us and bring something good out of whatever we have botched up. 

In the second reading, Paul exhorts the Corinthian community and us to remain focused on the things of God and not of the earth, to remember that faith ultimately triumphs over misery, sin and death.  We should look at everything we do here as a preparation for our eternal life.  We live in hope that by virtue of our faith we will share in Jesus’ Resurrection.  The God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us and bring us into his presence.  Finally the Gospel speaks about how Jesus is rejected by the scribes and his family.  He has been preaching and healing and he has just selected his twelve disciples.  But he is misunderstood; his family, the scribes and even the disciples do not yet recognize that he is truly the Son of God.   Jesus’ response is to redefine family and restore our original blessing; our connection to his father and each other as children of God.  His words are words to us today – he looks around at us and sees us as his brothers and sisters. This will make a difference as to how we see each other.  

Peace!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today, we celebrate the Christ’s gift of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our life together as the Church.

This Sunday’s Gospel is Mark’s account of the Last Supper.  At the Passover meal marking the First Covenant, Jesus, the Lamb of the New Covenant, institutes the New Passover of the Eucharist.

Jesus refers to his body being "given up" and his blood being "poured out" for his disciples.  We are invited to enter into these very actions of Jesus: to give up and to pour out our love and compassion for others; all in imitation of Jesus' words and actions at the last supper.

What an incredible challenge that is.  We do the "giving" and the "pouring" of ourselves primarily in response to God's gift in the person of Jesus who accomplishes these actions by his death and resurrection.  As we are nourished by Our Lord's actions of giving himself over for the salvation of all, we are challenged to respond similarly to others: that we be nourishment for them as Jesus nourishes us with his life, death and resurrection.

“See you all in the Eucharist!”

 

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

The Holy Trinity

This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. As Catholics we affirm our central truth and faith in One God: the Father (who creates), the Son (who redeems) and the Holy Spirit (who sanctifies, unifies and reconciles).

The Holy Trinity is not just a subject for theological speculation on the three divine persons in One God. The Holy Trinity is not so much about the awesomeness of God, but about an awesome lover who draws us into communion with Him. The Holy Trinity is a life of communion to be lived and shared. Therefore, in our stewardship way of life, we need to go beyond talking about love, communion, sharing and putting that into practice by being instruments of reconciliation, mercy and compassion. That is the reason why God in creating us does not put us directly into heaven, because if He did so, we would mess life up there! Our life here on earth is a time to practice our stewardship in concrete ways by sharing, healing and living in communion with the people God has given us.

Three points sum up the central message as follows: 1) The Holy Trinity is a model of life of communion in God to be lived and imitated; 2) Our faith in this mystery challenges us to be instruments of unity, reconciliation, healing and compassion; 3) To be such instruments, we need to be nourished by prayer together, for example in the family, Bible study groups or in basic Christian communities.

 Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Pentecost Sunday

Receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of renewal, forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. Fifty days after Easter, we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, when Christ filled his Church with the Holy Spirit. The feast of Pentecost completes the mysteries we have been celebrating since Holy Week: the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of the Lord that culminates in the sending of the Spirit of the Father and of the Son on his disciples. As we listen to the first reading, we relive the event of the first Pentecost. We are told that a noise like a strong driving wind came from the sky. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire resting on each of them.

 

In the second reading, Paul deals with the issue of some members of the Corinthian community who considered themselves more important than others on account of their personal talents. Paul reminds them that God's Spirit is the source of unity as well as a wonderful diversity of gifts in the growth of the community. Therefore, there is no place for inflated egos in the community of the baptized.

 

The Gospel from John gives a brief account of the Risen Lord Jesus offering the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and sending them. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you…Receive the Holy Spirit,” the Spirit of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.

 

Pentecost is therefore the crowning of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, who now fulfils his promise of sending the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Let us for a moment recall the words of the promise. "When the advocate comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father, he will be my witness. And you too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the outset." (Jn. 15:26) 

 

 

 Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Happy Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

This weekend we celebrate a great truth of our Creed that "he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father." The Ascension means that Jesus has gone before us - to open up the gates of heaven for us - so that we can conquer sin and death! We can live now with the hope of heaven knowing that where Jesus has gone, we can follow - into the highest heavens!  His Ascension is also the start of our mission, the mission that Jesus gave to his Church!  He said to his disciples and us:  "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." On the reading from Acts, we are also reminded of this mission, "You will be my witness in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  Now the question for us is:  are we doing what Jesus asked us to do?  Christ has returned to the right hand of God but we are his ambassadors here on earth and it was on the day of Ascension that his great task was laid on our shoulders.  Jesus, however, is asking something more, something even harder" he is asking us to be his witnesses. On one level, that's the challenge - because witness actually means "martyr."  And now, more than ever, it is a challenge looming large around the world.  But there is more than one kind of martyrdom.  There is the everyday martyrdom of selflessness and sacrifice, of not having the last word, of forgiving those who have those who have done us wrong.  And it is the everyday martyrdom of simply being a witness to the Gospel which often involves something we find increasingly elusive - mercy.  Jesus is asking each of us to do something glorious.  He asks us to rise with Him, to defy the laws of gravity and the world.  Where do we begin?  The answer has been before us all along.  Over the last few weeks, what has been the one recurring theme in the Sunday readings?  LOVE!  Love one another. That is where we begin.  Making that choice!  Living that choice!  And making that choice visible to a doubting and disbelieving world - a world that is increasingly turning away from Christ.  Our mission is to change that St. Paul puts beautifully in today's letter to the Ephesians:  "Live in a manner worthy of the calling you have received.....  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one about through love." Jesus wants to draw all people to heaven.  And he wants to do these things - through his Church, through the witness of our lives.  

May the Lord bless you!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

Sixth Sunday of Easter

 

This Sunday’s gospel passage is filled with beautiful statements about the ever-popular subject of love.  It also compels us to look deeper.  Love is Christ's great message to his followers - his parting word and it is profound.  "As the Father loves me, so I also love you,"  Jesus said.  How deep and how eternal that love must be.  But Jesus at once followed the statement with a bold and unimaginable challenge. 

 

“Love one another,” he commanded, “as I have loved you.”

In other words: As deeply as God loves His son, and as powerfully as Jesus then loves us, that is how we are to love one another.  Despite our differences, love one another. Despite the hurt someone has caused us, love one another. Despite the angers we are nursing or the grudge we can’t let go of… love one another.

 

Could any commandment be more difficult? Could any order be harder to follow? Christ is asking us to do nothing less than to love the world the way that God does.  The great challenge of this Sunday’s gospel is to look at the world around us, the people around us — all those we like and those we don’t, those we care for and those we don’t, those we respect and those we don’t — and love them like that, too.

 

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

This is our calling – and Christ’s great commandment. 

“I love you all!”

 

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

“A branch cannot bear fruit by itself…”

When a branch is freshly cut from a tree, you will see a kind of liquid, like water, that is the sap, coming out. As long as the branch remains attached to the tree, that sap will feed it and keep it alive. But when it is cut off and thrown away, it withers; it dries up.

 

Jesus says the same thing can happen to us. He tells us that he is the vine, and we are the branches. “Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – it withers”. Our life as Christians is God’s life in us, a life we received at our Baptism. This life is nourished by a special union with God and Jesus, when we continuously draw the sap from Jesus.  That is why Jesus tells us "  "Make your home in me as I make mine in you." We me our home in Jesus and draw the life sustaining sap from Him by having daily personal actions with the Lord; when we pray together in our families, when we gather every Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist, every time we receive the sacraments, every time we ready the Bible.   

 

If we live in union with Jesus, we will remain alive, and more still, we will bear fruit in plenty, for Jesus assures us: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will, and you shall get it.” To bear fruit John, the apostle, tells us in the second reading the kind of life that God wants - a life where there is “love… not just words of mere talk but something real and active.”  Jesus lived His life doing good to people, in the same way, if we live in Him, and He in us.  He continues doing good to people through us; the love of God passes through us and goes out to others in need of Him.  In our first reading (Acts 9:26-31), Barnabas shows a Christian love that is not just words or mere talk but something real and active when the Church in Jerusalem doubted the genuineness of Paul’s conversion and Barnabas introduced Paul to them assuring them of his conversion. We all know what a difference Paul made to the Church. And it was Barnabas who prepared the way for Paul. So what a difference it makes to the whole Church when we bear fruit and love with a Christian love that is real and active and not just words or mere talk.  Do I really live in Jesus and Jesus in me? In other words: Do I share with Jesus all that I live from day to day?  “Make your home in me as I make Mine in you.” 

 

By:  Fr. Joseph Ayinpuusa 

“I am the Good Shepherd”

For three weeks of Easter we have been reviewing from the Gospels the apparitions or sightings of Jesus after He rose from the dead. But today, the fourth Sunday of the Easter Season, we turn and ask “where will we find the Risen Lord today”, in our own lives? And the first answer is in the relationship between ourselves and one who leads us safely through the wiles of this life into the Kingdom of His Father. And not only does He lead us, but unlike normal shepherds who protect their sheep in order that, some day, they will “take the lives of the sheep” for their own benefit, the Good Shepherd protects his flock in order to “give us His life” in its Risen fullness and forever. In fact, the Good Shepherd has already poured out His own life that He might give it to us now beginning in this life in the regenerating waters of Baptism and share it fully with us on the last day when we too shall rise from the dead and share body and soul in the glory of our God in our own humanity.

And so the first place we find the Risen Lord today is in the One who guides, protects, heals, forgives, picks up, renews, and loves His flock, each one of us as if I were the only person He ever created. When we find and experience the Good Shepherd in our lives, we find anew the One Risen from the Dead.

By:  Father Pat McCormick

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

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