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

“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

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