Love is Challenging

By:  Deacon Modesto Cordero

“Love” is a funny, simple, but precious word.  “Love” is challenging.  So, it is the message Jesus is giving to us this weekend.  The Apostle John is taking us back to those last words of Jesus’ farewell talk to His disciples during the last supper.  Jesus begins this discourse with: “If you love me…”  Of course we love Jesus!  But there is more to what Jesus is saying than meets the eye.  Jesus says to keep his commandments as a sign of our love for him, he is not only speaking about simple laws or commands.  When Jesus says to keep his commandments as a sign of our love for him, he is not speaking only about the Ten Commandments.  He is saying that if we love him, we will believe as he believed, live as he lived.  If we love, we obey the commands and wishes of our beloved Jesus.  That applies to our relations with other people and with us and God.  If we do indeed love Jesus, if we do believe in him with all our heart, how can we not love our neighbor as ourselves? 

God’s love causes Jesus to promise to give us another “Advocate.”  He said “another” because he himself was an advocate, but he would soon no longer be with his followers physically and this other advocate would continue Jesus’ work.  For us Christians, the “Advocate” – the Holy Spirit - is the Spirit that embraces us with compassion and love.  He provides us with the strength we need to move on during difficult times.  The Holy Spirit stands beside us when we ask and speaks in our behalf when we’re in need.  It is the gift that fulfills Jesus’ promise to never leave us as we pursue our journey as Christian stewards.  How are we to show that the abundance of life which the Holy Spirit gives has truly come to us?  We still have a responsibility to bring God in Christ to our world today.  We do this by being ever ready to reply.  We need to speak on behalf of the Gospel.  God chooses to allow His word to be spoken by those whose hearts are open to receive the outpouring, in love, of His Spirit.  Our world needs the discipline of love and the life of the Spirit as much as the disciples to whom Jesus spoke, the Samaritans Philip met, and the converts to whom Peter wrote.   In the face of a contrary world that wants us to take the easy way of keeping quiet and making no waves, we need the Spirit for ourselves as well, because we, too, have “been there.”  So let’s not be faint-hearted in receiving the Spirit and in communicating Him to others by the witness of our lives. Peace! 

Sunday Gospel Reflection



By: Msgr. John S. Mbinda

You will recall that in the Gospel of last Sunday Jesus used the image of the "Gate" of the sheepfold to refer to himself. In the Gospel of this Sunday the Risen Lord calls himself the "Way". In the light of the resurrection, the risen Lord is not only the Gate but also the Way to where He is going and where He wants us to follow. Thomas, being realistic, asks Jesus, "Lord we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Thomas is thinking of the way in physical terms. He imagines that if Jesus could only give them a simple road map and directions to where he is going, they would surely get there. Jesus surprises them in saying, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." In other words, do not ask for directions for Jesus the Way to the Father. Just let go and follow Jesus Christ. Do not speculate for he is the Truth. If you want to live, go to Jesus and remain in him who is the life itself.

The Gospel therefore helps us to become more deeply aware that to find Christ is to find the Way, Truth and the Life. To try to seek the way, the truth and the life elsewhere is to get lost and die on the way. Christ identifies himself with the way, the truth and the life. In other words, to follow the risen Lord is to find the fullness of life in the triune God. If we take another direction we will certainly be lost and die on the way.What the risen Lord is offering us is Life itself and the fullness of the Truth, in terms of the hereafter. Christ also tells his disciples that to find him is to find the Father, because we can only reach the Father through Christ, because the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son. It is because of Christ's intimate union with the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit, that he is able to do the things that he does. Our union with the Father through Christ will also enable us to "perform the same works" Christ does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Shepherd Sunday

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday where we are invited to look at Jesus as that honorable shepherd who watches over and cares for his sheep. 

Jesus identifies with both the Good Shepherd and the gate in today’s gospel.  As good shepherd, he watches over us constantly.  He keeps us nourished and safe from what may harm us and he is the gate we pass through while he continues to care for us at each moment.

This is what he is sent to do by the heavenly Father.  Jesus is meant to be the very embodiment of God’s loving care for each and all of us.  Yes, we are sheep and the message here is to continue to watch for and receive God’s merciful love, goodness and care.  God is constantly on our side; the Good Shepherd is never on vacation, but always there for you and me just as the shepherd in today’s gospel is there pouring himself out for his sheep.

As God’s beloved we inherit the gracious goodness we are offered.  Let us be vigilant to discover it and to be impelled to pass it on to others who call out to us to share that abundant mercy and forgiveness as the shepherd spent his love and care for those entrusted to him.

This fourth Sunday of Easter is also a Day of Prayer for Vocations. Let us pray for vocations to priestly, diaconate and religious life so that we may have more good shepherds to lead, feed and protect the Catholic community. Let us remember that the duty of fostering vocations is the concern of the whole believing community and we discharge that responsibility primarily by living exemplary Christian lives.

Thank you, Jesus, our Good shepherd.

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

 

 

Journey of Faith

In today’s Gospel, the overarching metaphor is “journey of faith”.  Two disciples are on their way to Emmaus.  As they walk along, Jesus catches up with them and listens to their story of what had happened.  That walk to Emmaus is a metaphor for our own life journey of faith, when the Lord catches up with us too; when our life struggles lead us to rock bottom; when our faith, hope and trust have been so tested that we wonder where the Lord is.  These are the times when we do not recognize the Lord; when life crises lead us to doubt, fear and hopelessness.  In moments like these, may our eyes be opened like those of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, so we may recognize the risen Christ even in the midst our life struggles.

When we recognize the Lord, we can no longer be the same.  We become not just disciples (followers and learners), but stewards and custodians of the joyful gift of faith in the risen Lord we have experienced.  We become sensitive to every disclosure moment of the risen Lord walking along with us, at times disguised as a stranger, speaking to us, as He breaks open Scriptures for us to understand the meaning of His Story in Our Story.  As we journey, we will encounter the risen Lord, at times only after reflecting on our life’s journey.

Can you recall moments in your faith journey when the Lord revealed Himself to you, perhaps as you fed the hungry, cared for the sick or calmed the fears of someone in trouble?  Like the two disciples, may our hearts too burn within us as the Risen Lord speaks to us today; may we be fired up to want to share our faith with others.

Fr. John Mbinda

 

 

Sunday Gospel Reflection - 2nd Sunday of Easter - A

On this Second Sunday of Easter,  we celebrate the Feast of Christ, the King of Divine Mercy.  We do so not only in response to a specific request made by Jesus himself to Saint Faustina Kowalska, but also as a manifestation of our need to experience God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Our observance should fill our hearts with trust and faith not only in the reality of Christ’s resurrection, but also from his merciful love.  Jesus is, indeed, the King of Divine Mercy.  Our participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice should, likewise, be a commitment that is extended to our neighbor of the mercy we implore from God for ourselves.  We will do so not only by forgiving our offenders, but by practicing the works of corporal and spiritual mercy that make our love of neighbor genuinely “Christ-like.”

Fr. Norlito Concepcion

 

 

Easter Sunday Gospel Refection - A

Proclamation and witness are the two central themes running through this morning’s Easter Sunday readings.  In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter speaks about his own experience and shares that experience with the listening crowds. Peter is filled with the joy of knowing with utter conviction that Jesus, who died on the Cross, is now alive.  He simply must share that same joy with others – so that it can be theirs, too. 

Similarly, Paul’s experience of the resurrection leads him to advise us that we need to keep focus on the risen Christ, since Christ is our life.  For Paul, we know that his experience of the Risen Lord brought a total revolution to his life, and gave him a total new vision of things and especially of the meaning of Jesus' life and message.

In the Gospel, we have the experience of the empty tomb as a sign that Jesus is risen.  The discovery of the empty tomb by Mary Magdala leads to her running back to tell the disciples that Lord's body is not in the tomb. Peter and John went to the tomb and found just as Mary of Magdala had reported.  That experience may have been very disappointing, but it was also a clear message that Christ is risen as he had said. 

John the Evangelist, who writes the Gospel, tells us that he entered into the empty tomb, “he saw and he believed”.  He believed that the Lord is risen indeed.  That experience strengthened the faith of the disciples in the resurrection, and completely transformed their lives.  Renewed in their conviction, they were moved to witness to the mystery of the resurrection.

The message we take home on this Easter Sunday is that Easter is not an event we celebrate annually to remember the resurrection of Christ.  Rather Easter is an encounter with the risen Lord that touches us so deeply that we cannot be the same again.  Easter is a way of life in which we live our Easter faith without fear.

Msgr. John  Mbinda

 

 

Every Individual in our Church Takes Part

This Sunday, the Gospel is proclaimed by someone besides a priest or deacon.  Every individual in our church takes part.  It’s a great privilege and it literally gives us a role in Christ’s passion.  However, what do we say? What lines are we given? 

“He deserves to die!"  -  " Barabbas!”  -  “Let him be crucified!” 

“Crucify him!”  -  “Take him away, crucify him!

We are the mob, and we cruelly assist in condemning Christ to death.  The great irony, of course, is that we do it while clutching the palms.  They are a reminder and an indictment.  While we were standing here, crying out “Crucify him!”, we were clutching the branches that we use to sing out “Hosanna”.  The palms reveal our very human duplicity of how easily we turn.  How quickly we pivot from faithful to faithless, from belief to doubt, from being disciples to being betrayers.  We start out acting like angels, singing “Hosanna”, and we end up just being the mob.

In our own brokenness and sinfulness, we ask that he remember us.  We pray that we may be better than we are, and receive better than we deserve. We pray that we, who often deserve to be forgotten, may be remembered.

So, this is the day we remember.   We remember Christ’s journey to the    

cross, which began with his journey into Jerusalem.  We remember our role in his passion – our own sinfulness.

As we journey forward this Holy Week, let us look at the palms and what we are called to do, and who we are called to be.

Dcn. Romeo Ganibe

 

 

Sunday Gospel Reflection - 5th Sunday of Advent - A

The fifth Sunday of lent leads us to the reflection of Christ’s role in our existence, as the “source of our life and resurrection”.  The death of Lazarus makes us reflect on the many forms of “death” that afflict mankind and which make us shed tears of sorrow and compassion. It is not just the physical death that we must morn but that that of the death of the sanctity of our souls caused by sin and unbelief.  

Jesus’ calling Lazarus back to life portrays Him as the conqueror of death, foreshadowing his own resurrection which is to come, and justification of the righteous who put faith in Him day and night.  The event of Lazarus’ resuscitation is also a symbol of so many spiritual and moral “resurrections” brought about by Jesus. 

As branches on one vine, and Jesus himself is the vine, we can do nothing unless we are fully and truly united with Him who gives us the nourishment to make our good works as fruits, worthy of God.  Grateful to Him for the gifts we received, we ask Him to lead us and drive us to work, united with him and not separate from Him. We entrust to him, ourselves and the people who are emotionally or affectively or spiritually “dead.”

May we all share in the fullness of his life, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist that gives us life in the spirit and always keep us mantle of goodness which is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Fr. Norlito Concepcion

 

 

Sunday Gospel Reflection - 4th Sunday of Lent A

The account of the man born blind in the Gospel of St. John this Sunday is not so much about the man being healed, but about seeing as God sees.  Here we meet a blind man with sight as compared to the intellectual Pharisees who are blindThe Gospel reminds us that our Baptism illuminates us to see and embrace God’s vision, life, goodness and truth.  Our Baptism commits us to be bearers of the truth and to confront the spiritual blindness of the world with the truth.

The passage clearly contrasts light and darkness, faith and the refusal to accept the truth.  These contrasts emerge from the controversy with the Pharisees. Because they are in the darkness of their own prejudice, they refuse to recognize Jesus as the messiah; they refuse to acknowledge that Jesus has the power to heal the blind man.  The healing of blind man becomes an opportunity for Jesus to manifest once again his own true divine identity for all to see and believe.  In the story, Jesus not only gives the blind man his sight, physical light, but he also gives him the light of faith. 

The story of the man born blind is about you and me in moments of our own spiritual blindness and darkness. However, we need to focus on the Joy of the Gospel this Sunday. In baptism, Christ has healed our blindness and given us the light of faith, so that, like the healed blind man, we may proclaim Christ boldly despite the opposition from those still in darkness. Jesus heals our blindness so we can see our brothers and sisters as He sees them. Like the blind man, we have been healed and have become fearless disciples ready to give our time, talent and treasure in witness to Christ.

Msgr. John Mbinda

 

 

Sunday Gospel Reflection - 3rd Sunday of Lent - A

In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman who comes to Jacob’s Well to draw water.  Jesus sees her spiritual thirst and asks the woman for some water to drink.  However, his intention is to use water to lead her to discover her own spiritual thirst; her need for conversion; for new life in Christ, the water of life.  Jesus knows that the woman is an outcast with quite a reputation in her village, having been married five times and living with a sixth man!  Perhaps that is why she comes to the well at noon instead of the morning when other women come.

In the course of an interesting dialogue, Jesus, who thirsts for her conversion, gradually leads her to scrutinize herself.  Though embarrassed at Jesus’ scrutiny and insight into her private life, she is led gradually first to confess that she knows that the Messiah is coming and when he comes he will tell us everything.  At that point, Jesus reveals his true identity to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you”.  She is first surprised and then becomes completely converted and accepts the water of life that Jesus offers to quench her spiritual thirst.  This woman who first came for a jug of water, now puts the jug down and becomes a disciple and an apostle sent to her village where she tells her people: Come and see!  Come and see the person who has changed my life!”  She goes home not only transformed, but also refreshed after drinking the life-giving water that only Jesus can give. 

As we celebrate the first of three Scrutinies with the candidates for Baptism this Sunday, the readings invite us to scrutinize ourselves, like the Samaritan woman, to discover our spiritual thirst for the water of life.  Jesus is not only the water of life, but also the well and source of life-giving water; the one who satisfies all our spiritual yearnings.

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

 

 

The Lord, Jesus, Has Shown Us the Way Up the Mountain

The Lord Jesus has shown us the way up the mountain.

He has invited us into a new way of living in Him through living within the communion of the Church. We are invited to go into the world and invite all men and women through the waters of the womb of Baptism into the new communion of love, where they can begin the process of conversion and transfiguration.

We are all invited to join with Peter, James and John and cry out today: "It is good for us to be here."

Today and in the days to come, we reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus and enter more deeply into the mystery it reveals by living that change now. It truly is good for us to be here.

Let us be encouraged, inspired and respond to the invitations of grace in our daily lives.  Let us grow more fully into the Image and likeness of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord revealing His Transfigured glory to a world waiting to be born anew.

We are called into an ongoing transformation in Jesus Christ, beginning right NOW.

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

 

 

Obedience of Jesus

After the baptism of our Lord Jesus on the river Jordan by Saint john the Baptist, Jesus went into the desert and there he was tempted three times by the devil.  Instead of celebrating the event of His baptism and proclamation as a “Son of God” by the father himself, he chose to undertake the 40 days of fasting and penance.  The God who took humanity to himself, except sin, went on fasting and penance not just to make fasting and penance holy, but to make man’s nature at peace with the divine.   Therefore gaining mastery of humanity, a mastery that no one will ever accomplish in this mundane world.  Many have claimed enlightenment, but no one has ever come face to face with the prince of darkness, been tempted by himself, and emerged victorious.  Holy wisdom triumphs over falsehood and humanity was given a chance to resist evil by using human faculties itself (human senses and reason) because the God, who assumes humanity, did it.   

As people, who died in sin and reborn in baptism following Christ, we are expected to also master our humanity by fasting and penance.  With the discipline of the body, our spirit may be given attention, by penance.  We humble ourselves to the one who is the provider, that He may not judge us, but shows us his love for we have undertook the way of the cross that he began when he was hungry in the desert.  Similar to those who went into the desert to repent, like Abba Anthony the hermit, Amma Mary of Egypt and St. Benedict in the wilderness, the first week of Lent invites us to retreat into the desert of our soul and empty ourselves the way we did when we welcomed baby Jesus during Advent. Lent is when we allow ourselves to be welcomed by the resurrected Jesus.

The first week of Lent remind us of our forgotten power that we received when we received the mark of Jesus in baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of confirmation, for the consecrated religious; the vigilant force received by the evangelical vows, and for the ordained; the Christ like ministry.  Like Jesus, who was tempted by Satan, we are not immune to him, we are meant to combat against him.  We must expect that we will be oppressed by the mechanisms he has placed in this world to ruin our path towards goodness.  Like our Lord proclaimed as “Son of God” in the waters of Jordan, we are announced as heirs to the kingdom by the virtue of baptism. When we were cleansed of original sin in water, we have been set up as watchers on the fortress with our lights as weapons against darkness. We must cast our fears and rejoice as partakes of the path of Jesus. Our consolation is his victory for we have suffered with him for 40 days.  

Fr. Norlito Concepcion

 

"Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness."

Jesus in the Gospel this Sunday teaches his disciples that God cares for them more than all other creatures.  “Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon …was clothed like one of them.”  What Jesus is driving in this passage is to convince us to stop worrying so that we can set our priorities right to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”. God in turn will care for all our other needs.

As faithful disciples and stewards, we believe that God cares so much for us.  That kind of faith and trust in God has led many women and men down the centuries to accept the invitation of Jesus in today’s passage, to leave everything and follow Him.  They freed themselves from worry and relied totally on God for their needs. 

An example that comes to mind is St. Francis of Assisi.  When accused by his own father of having taken away family property to give to the poor, Francis removed his clothes and walked away naked to underlines the point of detachment from possessions.  We are called to radical trust in God: seeking first for the kingdom of God

Another example is Mother Teresa who always trusted in divine providence.  “God will provide,” she used to say. That radical trust frees us from worrying too much about the means, in order to focus on being better disciples and stewards of time, talent and treasure that God has given us especially as we begin our One Community Capital Campaign.

Msgr. John Mbinda

 

 

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A

This Sunday as Jesus continues his Sermon on the Mountain in the Gospel, he focuses our attention on forgiveness, challenging us further to go beyond the law of love and revenge. The Gospel challenges us to do the impossible by turning the other cheekby loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us. In other words, we are called to use the secret weapon of kindness to disarm them.

In a world so marked by a culture of violence and revenge, Christians are called to be compassionate and forgiving. As followers of Christ, we must never revenge. Instead, Jesus tells us, “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.”

What does Jesus mean by “turning the other cheek”? At the time of Jesus in Palestine, the law forbad anyone in authority from striking anybody with the back of the right hand, or with the left hand. Therefore, if you turned the other cheek, the enemy would first be surprised and stop to think! That technique of Jesus may be called disarming the enemy because it is a game changer. It transforms behavior and defuses a situation that would have otherwise ended in violence or revenge.

Msgr. John Mbinda

 

 

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time-A: The 10 Commandments

Hundreds of years after Moses received the Ten Commandments, Jesus fulfills the law.  He teaches us that the Ten Commandments must not only guide what we do, but also how we treat those around us. 

Thousands of years after Jesus explained the commandments, we find our generation struggling to define right from wrong.  Do we have anything to show — in terms of progress from the years of Moses — that we have learned to live justly?

God has given us the freedom to choose right from wrong (good vs. evil).  He wants us to be formed to his life-giving divine wisdom and act accordingly.  We choose the kingdom of heaven by the choices we make on earth.  “Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

When evaluating ourselves, we feel we are good law-abiding people, because we have not murdered anybody.  We are not in the habit of stealing anything from our neighbors.  We are Sunday-Mass-goingCatholics; we say our prayers and mind our own business. Jesus asks of us to do more.

We are challenged to do the most we can for God and our neighbor; in love and deed.

 

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

 

 

Jesus Invites and Challenges Us True Christians...

On the 5th Sunday in ordinary time, Jesus invites and challenges us true Christians of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church to be the salt and the light of the world.  In a world that is reigned by the darkness of fear, selfishness, personal convenience, and indifference towards the gospel, those who live by the gospel must reach out to those who are enslaved by this world and be free to walk on the light of truth without hesitation or guilt, to be among the people enlighten by the supreme truth, to witness the beauty of faith, and to feel the goodness of the God that rescues people from the danger of sin.

Charity and corporal works of mercy show the light of faith unlike selfish philanthropy. Charity demands loyalty to God, for a person who practices charity does it, not according to the human spirit that makes people push both the endurance of the psyche and the body to achieve a goal, but by the spirit of humanity that comes from sympathy and empathy. Christian Charity compels a loyal heart to act in Goodness for the sake of God, to continue and participate in God’s plan to free people or give remedy from forces that are convinced to take away or prevent the realization of God given dignity. Philanthropy is a show of personal ability, power and personally acquired wealth and status. It seeks satisfaction and admiration of those who are deprived of such standards.     

The charity of Jesus on the cross lifted and glorified those who believed in Him, He has become the light of their city, the heavenly city that will endure forever. As citizens of the city of God, each of us carry the light from the heavenly city. We are sent as disciples of the light in the world to bring those who live in the city of man towards the light. If our light is not as bright, how can we bring those in the dark towards the light, or how can we survive the darkness that waits to entrap us outside?

 

Fr. Norlito Concepcion 

 

Who Doesn't Want to be Blessed?

Being blessed conjures up images of peace, prosperity, perfection.  Jesus “began” to teach the Beatitudes to his disciples - the great Sermon on the Mount, which forms the core of Jesus’ teaching.  He is saying that discipleship must be rooted in, shaped by, arise from his own blessedness.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus announces the blessings for those who live in “the kingdom of heaven.”  These blessings continue an ancient tradition reflected in the first reading from the prophet Zephaniah.  God extends protection and refuge to those who “seek justice” and are “humble & lowly.”   Jesus went ahead and described the qualities that mark true discipleship: poor in spirit, mourning loss, meek, seekers of justice, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, bearers of insults and persecution.  His blessedness is marked by giving of self, emptying of self, letting go of self.  For Jesus, being blessed is more than here-and-now, tangible happiness.  Jesus teaches that being blessed comes from the joy of being of, in, and with him – and his followers.  Our blessedness is a quality of who we are and a blueprint for how we are to be and live as followers of Jesus.

 

Becoming and living as followers of Jesus is not very complicated.  What he taught through his words and actions is simple in nature, yet profound in its impact on each of us, on everyone with whom we interact, and on our entire world.  However, when we hear the word “blessed,” we tend to think of holiness and discount ourselves.  The Beatitudes remind us that blessedness is bestowed by God on those who faithfully follow Jesus.  It points to permanency!  It leads us to heaven!  The “kingdom of heaven” is promised to those who seek the happiness, the blessedness that comes from possessing God.  We arrive at the promise of the Beatitudes – “for they will” – after a lifetime of faithful discipleship.

 

Let us seek God’s mercy for the times we have not lived up to our blessedness!

 

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

 

 

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.

The readings this Sunday draw our attention to two central themes that are closely related: Christ revealed as the light of the world and Christ in whose name we are baptized and united.  Both themes are interwoven.  The first reading gives an example of the kingdom established by David, which was torn apart by divisions soon after Solomon’s death.  Consequently, foreigners invaded the Northern Kingdom in 733-32 BC and occupied it, and further threatened the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  Centuries thereafter, darkness reigned all over Israel.  However, today’s first reading prophecies a great light in time to come.  Great joy and happiness would be restored. A king of peace would come to establish freedom and unify Israel forever. The second reading gives another example of divisions in the Christian community of Corinth.  Paul reminds the Christians there that they belong to Christ and not to any particular apostle who may have baptized them. It is the death and resurrection of Christ that is the symbol in their baptism, which binds them together as a Christian community.

The Gospel from Matthew uses a passage from the first reading to show that Jesus is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy. “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.” Jesus Christ is therefore our light and source of unity in a world that is very much in need of enlightenment and unity in the midst of fragmentation. Ideological differences, regional and civil wars, ethnic conflicts and Christian divisions continue to cast a deep shadow over the world. Our Christian faith and hope, however, tell us that someday a great light will indeed shine and unity will be restored. The source of that light and unity is Jesus Christ. As Jesus begins His ministry by proclaiming a message of repentance, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”   That message is a wakeup call for all disciples of Christ to be transformed into God’s authentic witnesses in a world overshadowed by the darkness of disunity due to human pride, greed and selfishness. Our witness will only be effective if we are first transformed into the light of Christ and signs of the unity; if we shed off our pride in realizing how much we need to be enriched by Jesus Christ, and by one another’s gifts. If we are credible witnesses, others will want to become Christian.

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

 

 

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday, we are at the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. In both the first reading and the psalm, Jesus is seen as the “Servant of the Lord” who comes to do God’s will.  In the Gospel, John the Baptist points out Jesus to his disciples, saying, Behold the Lamb of God.” What does that phrase mean?

When John the Baptist describes Jesus as “the Lamb of God”, he draws the phrase from an Old Testament tradition of the “lamb of God” symbolism. The blood of the paschal lamb of the Old Testament protects and saves the Israelites in Exodus 12. This link is made explicit in 1 Cor 5:7. For Paul, we are saved by Christ as our true Paschal Lamb of God. Therefore, John the Baptist in the Gospel draws our attention to the identity of Jesus and all he would have to undergo in order to save us.

The Prophet Isaiah prophesied graphically the fate of the “Suffering Servant” of the Lord. He was pierced for our offences; crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole; by his stripes we were healed.  The Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. He was harshly treated; He submitted and never opened his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter…  He was wounded for our sins, bruised for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:2-3).  We use the phrase “Lamb of God” at Mass three times in order to reflect on what Jesus did for our salvation and also to humbly seek his mercy and compassion before we receive him in the Holy Eucharist.

Msgr. John Mbinda

 

Celebrating the Epiphany of the Lord

The Epiphany of the Lord is a great day of celebration for all Catholics.  Today we celebrate Jesus, the Manifestation of our Lord, to the whole world.  The Epiphany is a high point in the Christmas season—affirming universal salvation through Christ.

The beautiful star placed on top of the Nativity scene (and Christmas tree) is significant in the story of Jesus’ birth.  As the star shown brightly in Bethlehem, the birth of baby Jesus was revealed to the shepherds nearby and people far away.  The Magi that saw the star from a distance began a journey to find the newborn King.  Similarly, the star shines upon us— leading us from our Baptism, through our faith journey, and ultimately towards Christ.

Amidst the hardest times in life, the star shines brightly.  Bereavement, crime, addiction, abuse, illness, and all struggles we may encounter make the star seem far, but our support for each other and faith in God will help to endure the journey to Christ.  Enjoy the graces on the journey too.  The birth of a child, becoming a parent (grandparent), falling in love, job success — let them reenergize you and remind you to continue following the bright star of God.

When the Magi completed the journey led by the bright star, they found the baby Jesus. The Magi presented Him with gifts and kneeled in adoration to Him. The shining star — our Faith — is always guiding us towards Christ. 

In celebration of the Epiphany, I challenge you to find a Nativity scene and marvel it.  Find the Magi, who followed the star and traveled long and far.  Look at Joseph and Mary; parents to the newborn king. The baby Jesus, savior to the world, laying in a manger.  Adore him.

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

 

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