Sunday Gospel Reflection- 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By: Father Michael Suh Niba

The first theme that unites all the readings of our Mass is that God saves all – Christian, Jew, Gentile and Pagan and Atheist alike. In answer to a question that I think we have all asked ourselves at some time and which has been asked all through the history of Christianity - Who Can Be Saved?- Avery Cardinal Dulles writes:                                                           

 Adherents of other religions…  Even Atheists can be saved if they worship God under some other name and place their lives at the service of truth and justice. God’s saving grace, channeled through Christ the one Mediator, leaves no one unassisted. But that same grace brings obligations to all who receive it.

 

One thing that is common to those who recognize God in any way, is that God is a God who provides;  who answers prayers.  This is the second theme.  The Gospel reading of today brings together these two themes - The God who saves both Pagan and Christian alike is a god who answers the prayer of Pagan and Christian alike- on one condition.  That the person who asks, does so with faith; with persistence.  Jesus’ conversation with the woman gives the impression that Jesus was not willing to answer her request because she was a Canaanite. But she was not one to give up easily. In the end, Jesus recognizes and rewards her faith.  

The woman has the last word. Beggars may not have choices. But some beggars who perceive that their dignity might be abused give up.  Not this woman. Her faith must have helped her realize that Jesus’ reference to her as a dog bore no abuse, no racist undertones. So she bears him no resentment or anger. Both need and faith give her a sharpness of tongue that surprise Jesus. Bottom line, this woman tells Jesus, those who eat from the table and those who pick up the scraps eat exactly the same thing. When it comes to you, she seems to be telling Jesus, beggars have rights, because you allow them to eat what the children eat. In the person of Jesus, distinctions according to race, lose all meaning. The Jesus of this woman’s faith has no favorites. Bottom line, all animals are animals and even if some fool themselves, they are more equal than others, the Lord of all animals knows differently. Jesus is that Lord. In short this woman tells Jesus, even if I am a dog, I’d prefer to be your dog for I know you’ll treat me kindly. I know you’ll give me more than scraps. You’ll let me feed from the table. She does not change her request. In not changing her request, she demands no more, no less than what she knew he was capable of and had done for the Jews. She does not repeat her request but she is telling him: “Cure my daughter as you cured the leper after you came down from the mountain (Matthew 8:1-4); as you cured the Centurion’s servant (8:5-13); as you cured Peter’s Mother-in-Law (8:14-17); as you cured the Gadarene Demoniacs (8:28-34); as you cured the paralytic (9:1-8). If the same person, using the same powers over the same reality of sickness with the same results does not speak of equality, nothing else will. This woman’s faith has a lot of common sense to it.

 How I wish, I could approach Jesus with the same faith when I am confronted with the challenges that life throws at me. 

Avery Cardinal Dulles SJ., Who can be saved? https://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/02/001-who-can-be-saved-8. Accessed on Monday 14th August 2017 at 11 am.

Sunday Gospel Reflection- 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By: Deacon Romeo Ganibe

 

Our gospel reading this Sunday, presents to us the boat where the disciples were being battered by the waves, and amidst the disturbance came.  Jesus silently walks on the violent waters to assure them that in their fearful and unstable present environment, He is there to calm them and to assure them that everything would be all right for He is there to save them all.

 

What happens to Peter in today’s Gospel happens to all of us at one time or another:  We panic.  We don’t trust ourselves to know what the right thing is or our ability to do it.  But, somehow, God reaches out and catches us — if we’re willing to put aside our fears and try to do as Jesus would do, trusting in God’s grace to realize the good. 

 

We are oftentimes being tossed upside down by our worries and problems that generate fear and disturbance in our hearts.  We are being disturbed by fear of sickness, losing our job , getting old and there are countless more fears that may come our way.  

 

But in the middle of all these fears and disturbances in our lives, Jesus silently comes into our hearts. To assure and calm us that everything will be alright, to say to us that we need not fear, and to remain strong in our faith.  Jesus promises that in every storm that batters us, his hand is extended to us in the hand of those we love and trust, and he calls us to be the hand that would reach out to others.

 

Where do you see yourself in the boat? Are you huddled in the bottom? Clinging to the rail?  A Spectator? Or one who is reaching out to others, to those who are drowning in poverty, to those experiencing marriage and family relationship issues, to someone who lost a love one or a friend, and praying for healing for the sick. 

 

We can all walk on water if we have an unsinkable faith and trust in the Lord.

Sunday Gospel Reflection- The Transfiguration of the Lord

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa 

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, an event in which Peter, James and John had a very special privilege of seeing a glimpse of the glory of Jesus. It was also a preview of the glory we all hope to share in heaven. They also saw Moses and Elijah appear to them, and conversing with Jesus. Something else of great importance occurred on the mountain: They heard the voice of God the Father say, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him."  Just before this event Simon and Peter had declared that Jesus was the Messiah, but when Jesus began to explain that he must undergo suffering and death and on the third day be raised to life, the Apostles could not accept such a Messiah. So Jesus brings these three apostles to the mountain so that they would experience a glimpse of his heavenly glory in order to prepare them to experience with him the agony of the passion, so as to come with him to the joy of the resurrection. God the Father also knew that in order to fully understand and accept the teachings of His Son, the disciples needed to give him all their attention by listening to him.

It is not that they were not listening to Jesus. They did listen to him, but it was “selective listening”; they took what they wanted to hear or what they felt Jesus ought to be according to their thinking. For example when Jesus told them about his impending suffering and death they did not understand what this meant, but instead of asking to know, they rather argued about who among them would be the greatest (Luke 9:45-47). James and John also came asking for high places in his kingdom (Matt 20:17-24). They never heard of his suffering; it was the joy of the kingdom that mattered to them. 

Many times we too practice the art of selective listening.  We pick and choose the words we want to hear and gloss over the others. We listen to Jesus when he says things that are uplifting. We like Jesus who promises healing, love, and peace and prosperity. But when Jesus says things that are contrary to what we want to hear, such as the need to love our enemies, the need to forgive, the need to deny ourselves, we turn a deaf ear to him. Likewise, we find it unacceptable and turn against God, when we face difficulties in life. 

Jesus at the transfiguration tells us that his suffering and death is not the end of the story; it is a means to a fruitful end, a glorious end. But it is a necessary means to that end. He wants us to listen to him even in the ordinary events of life and accept the sufferings that we bear as we serve him as his followers. We can listen to Jesus more intently and hear him more clearly by learning to listen to each other; by making up our mind that we would allow the will of God to be done in our life; by opening our mind and heart and allow Jesus talk to us as we read the scriptures and hear him in homilies that touch us, in the recesses of our heart. Most of all let us make an effort to sit at Jesus’ feet daily and listen to him in prayer, and ask for the grace of God to apply his teachings in our life.

Sunday Gospel Reflection- 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By: Monsignor John S. Mbinda 

 

The kingdom - a treasure of great value - and letting go in order to possess it, are the phrases that help to capture the central message of this Sunday. This Sunday, Jesus uses three parables to help us discover how we could move from life without Christ to life in Christ by living the values of the kingdom. In other words, Jesus gives us concrete examples on personal commitment and resolve to posses, the treasure of great value.

 

 In the first two parables, Jesus uses familiar images and commercial values of his time, which are still valid today. In the first parable, Jesus shows us that once we have discovered the value of the kingdom, we should sell all we own, in order to possess it. We are challenged to give up everything we value most, in order to be part of this kingdom. Therefore, it is not so much the treasure, but our personal commitment and resolve to do all we can to live the values of the kingdom. The decisive question for us is whether we are prepared to let go of our treasure for the sake of possessing the treasure of great value – Jesus Christ - in order to live in accordance with the values of kingdom. Jesus teaches us that the kingdom of heaven is much more valuable than anything we possess. That is the treasure that Jesus reveals to us. Therefore, there is great wisdom in trying to possess it.

 

In the first reading from the First Book of Kings, Solomon asks for wisdom and discernment. Wisdom is much more than just possessing a lot of things or a long life. It gives someone discernment on what really matters most in life. We know what mattered most in St. Paul’s life. Writing to the Philippians Paul says, “I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have accepted the loss of all things, and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8)

 

Our One Community Center is like the treasure of great value in the gospel. We have found that treasure and there is no turning back! We are all challenged to go forward like the man in the parable by letting go of our treasure in order to accomplish our goal.

 

 May God bless you all. 

Sunday Gospel Reflection- 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By: Fr. Michael Suh Niba

A story is told of an old woman who prayed to the Lord in this fashion: “Lord, please weed out all bad people from society”. Her daughter-in-law overheard her and remarked: “Will she be spared?” None of us will be spared. “Who is well?” Nobody is spared the daily assaults and defeats of the devil.

There is no doubt that the forces and reality of evil can be so overwhelming sometimes that we are forced to asked: Where is God in all this?” As someone has asked: “Where is God, when bad things happen to good people?” No one can doubt that such questions can cry out of real life situations of our personal moral failures and sinfulness and of pain, anguish, endless forms of senseless and innocent suffering and death in and around us. To accuse anyone of faithlessness or cynicism when sometimes faced with what I call the existential mystery of evil, can be naïve and insensitive. There are no easy answers to the problems that evil in all its forms raises.

But if we are not to fall into despair, discouragement and disillusionment, we must turn to God who speaks to us in the first reading. God is in charge. He has the power to punish the perpetrators of injustice .But he wouldn’t. “Who is well?” Wishing  that he rain every possible misfortune on the wicked, would include us. Just as making a perpetrator hear from our attorney can be a subtle and civilized way of seeking revenge. Those are not the prayers of the Spirit. But his power is so great that he can also show mercy, “clemency”, as we heard. This gives us hope, hope that with time, we, the world,  can change, change for the better. The important thing is not when the weeds in our lives and in the world are defeated. The important thing is that they be defeated. The certainty is that they have been defeated by Jesus. As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Heb. 12:4.  In so far as we still have life we also still have a lot of fight out there and in us. Giving up and giving in to defeat are not an option “And if God is on our side, who can be against us?” Rom. 8:31. And so we should consider our sinfulness and failures, the injustices and other ills in our society only as lost battles in a drawn out war. Those losses  should therefore take nothing away from our commitment, from our war effort, from our courage. 

Dear friends, we do win lots of times. And even if evil were to win most of the battles in our lives, with in and through Jesus we are more than full-blown optimists. We win. We win the war. For he assures us: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn. 16:33.

Sunday Gospel Reflection- 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By: Deacon Romeo Ganibe

This Sunday, the gospel reading is about the parable of the sower and the soil. God is the sower and we are the soil - the ground on which the seeds of God’s message fall upon.

 In this parable, the sower challenges us to see how deeply the word of God has taken root in our lives, how central God is to the very fabric of our day-to-day existence.

 Christ invites us to embrace the faith of the sower: to trust and believe that our simplest acts of kindness and forgiveness, our humblest offer of help to anyone in need, our giving of only a few minutes to listen to the plight of another soul may be the seeds that fall “on good soil” and yields an abundant harvest.

 Jesus also challenges us to be both sower and seed: to sow seeds of encouragement, joy and reconciliation regardless of the groundon which it is scattered, and to imitate the seeds total giving of self that becomes the harvest of Gospel justice and mercy.      

Sunday Gospel Reflection- 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

By: FR. Joseph Ayinpuusa

Sometimes, life can be very burdensome. People experience all kinds of burdens—worry, bitterness, guilt, illness, disappointments, unemployment, difficult relationships, addictions etc. Sometimes we even meet stumbling blocks as we strive in our efforts to be faithful to our Christian calling. How can we deal with these burdens that sometimes crush us to the ground?

The Readings of today’s liturgy offer us a way out from our burdens. They make it clear to us that our God is a liberating God. In the first reading, the prophet Zechariah consoles the Jews who were living under the oppression of Greek rule, promising them a “meek” Messianic King, who will give them rest and liberty. In the Gospel we see Jesus as this liberator who offers rest to those “who labor and are  burdened” if they will accept his “easy yoke and light burden.” 

At Jesus’ time a yoke was a wooden crossbeam that joined two oxen at the neck, enabling the oxen to pull a plough or other farm implements. The yoke was carved and made to fit so well that it would not rub sores on the ox’s shoulders. It also allowed the two animals to pull together, to work as a team.

So when Jesus tells us to take upon his yoke for his yoke he wants us to be “yoked” to him. Actually, the yoke belongs to Christ and He invites us to team up with Him. To take the yoke of Christ is to associate and identify ourselves with Him: our destiny with His destiny, our vision with His vision and our mission with His mission. It is to know that we are not pulling the yoke alone and by our power but we are bearing the yoke together with Christ and by the strength that comes from Him.

SoJesus is asking us to cast away our heavy burdens and take on his yoke. St. Paul talks about two yokes, namely, the “flesh” and the “Spirit,” and he challenges us to reject the heavy and fatal yoke of the flesh and accept the light yoke of the Spirit of Jesus. Christian spirituality, according to St. Paul, proceeds from the initiative of the Holy Spirit and means living in the realm of the “Spirit” as opposed to the “flesh." To take the yoke of Christ, therefore, is to put ourselves in a relationship with Christ as his servants and subjects, and to conduct ourselves accordingly.

Christ invites us to put away our yokes of pride and selfishness and allow him to place on our shoulders the light burdens of humility and his commandment of love and service. The fact is that much as we are yoked to Christ, we are also bound together by our common baptism, which makes us members of the Body of Christ and sharers in a life of faith. Hence, We are stewards of God’s love to one another, to help make the burdens of our brothers and sisters lighter.

May we have the strength of conviction in our faith to be yoked to Christ in great joy, for his burden is indeed light; and may he help us to be true stewards of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and encouragement to each other.

 

 

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By:  Msgr. John S. Mbinda

This Sunday, the readings touch on several themes. Here I would like to focus on hospitality which is one of the overarching themes. This is an important theme in the Old and New Testaments with many clear examples. In the first reading, we find a remarkable example of hospitality given by the Shunamite woman. Her hospitality is rewarded with favors from God. Through the intervention of the prophet Elisha she will get a baby boy, though the husband is advanced in age. The point of the story is that creating space to welcome visitors can indeed unlock God’s blessings and favors. In the gospel passage Jesus underlines the importance of hospitality in the life of his disciples in saying that “whoever receives” them receive him and the Father who sent him. Those who offer such hospitality will be rewarded.

What are the practical applications of hospitality? Here at St. John’s we take our Aloha Hospitality Ministry seriously, mainly because hospitality leads to a sense of belonging and ownership.  When one arrives on our campus, the first thing one notices is a banner that says “Welcome to St. John’s: A Place to Feel at Home!” Our Aloha Hospitality Ministry has evolved to include “Parking Lot Ministry” and “Greeters Ministry” that extend from the Lanai into the Church. We go long ways before Mass on Sundays to greet and welcome all visitors and new parishioners. We offer them leis as a sign of our welcome and hospitality. We realize that when people feel welcome they get a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging leads to being actively engaged in the life of the parish. Engagement opens the door to being equipped and formed for ministry and witness to others. In welcoming new parishioners, we prepare them for witness in their own lives, so that they may be ready to evangelize others.

May God’s grace help us to be more welcoming to visitors and new members in our midst for they reflect the face of Christ and the Father who sent Him.

 

 

Sunday Gospel Reflection

By:  Fr.  Norlito Concepcion

Be not afraid

Jer 20:10-13/Rom 5:12-15/Mt 10:26-33

We Christians live in troubled times surrounded by the dangers and threats of terrorism, accidents, chemical warfare, partisan politics, extreme secularism, and aggressive culture of death.  In the midst of it all, the Lord Jesus today tells us: “Be not afraid!” He himself is the brave man who faced Pilate and all his accusers with a stout heart and a clear conscience, he accepted the verdict of death for the sake of those who have sinned against God. His apostle and disciples, out of fear and cowardice, ran away and left him together with His mother, St. John, and a handful of brave women to walk the path of death on the Holy Cross.

 To exhibit courage, we must consider first how to persevere in the face of difficulties and struggle, the same as in being steadfast in opposition and rejection. Steadfastness in doing and choosing Good despite difficulty or delay in gaining glory. Our faith must lead us into courage as if it was a rock where we find rest in the midst of strong waves that challenges our will. Like the cross that is steady and unmoved despite of the changes of weather and time, we must follow Jesus, and place our hope in His divine providence to withstand trials and desire the glory of resurrection.

 Jesus wants us to be as brave as He was, especially in proclaiming our faith in him, not just in words but especially through a life lived according to the demands of the Gospel. We should not be afraid for we are not alone. The Lord stands by us like a mighty champion, a steady anchor, and like a faithful friend, ready to assist us in all our needs. “Be not afraid!” Jesus repeats to us as we gather to celebrate the sacrifice of the Eucharist, the source of our devotion, courage and strength. We can overcome our fears not because we trust in our strength and resources, but because we live under the protection of our all-loving and omnipotent heavenly Father. If God is with us, who can overpower us? Let us all say “Dominus est!” (It is the Lord) when we share His sufferings by our individual struggles in life.

 

 

Sunday Gospel Reflection

Sunday Gospel Reflection

By: Deacon Romeo Ganibe

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which translates from Latin to "Body of Christ." This feast calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist and the Church. The primary purpose of this feast is to focus our attention on the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ in it. The secondary focus is upon the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church.

In the Gospel Reading from John, we hear Jesus  explaining to the people the new “manna” for them – that which will nourish and sustain them – not their physical being this time but their spiritual being.  It is His body and blood that will save us – first as He sacrifices himself for us but also each time we receive His body and blood.  Today’s Solemnity allows us to embrace this gift. It is a time for us to give great thought not only to the blessings that we have received but also to the expectations of being given eternal life.

How do we live this gift? How do we fully embrace it in all its meanings?  In the USA this year, this Solemnity falls on Fathers’ Day. We find it comforting to think of our Father and how He provides for us in every way.  Some of us no longer have our earthly fathers with us, some may not have the father that they needed, and, of course, many have caring, nurturing father – yet all of us, share the same loving Father who gave us his only Son, that we would be saved. Our  Christ, who gives us His body and blood that "whoever eats this bread will live forever." The enduring presence of Christ strengthens and sustains us.  The body of the Church unites us not only with Christ but with each other. We are called to be Men and Women For and With Each Other, sharing in the life of Christ and living His mission.

 

 

Sunday Gospel Reflection- The Most Holy Trinity

By: Msgr. John S. Mbinda

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". This prayer leads us into the mystery we celebrate this Sunday, the Most Holy Trinity. In the second reading of this Sunday, we find one of the optional greetings used at the beginning of each Mass. This greeting is an excellent synthesis of the mystery of the Holy Trinity. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you" (2 Cor. 13:14). The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity helps us to 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).

In his teaching, Jesus gradually reveals to his disciples the mystery of being totally united with the Father. One is reminded of the conversation between Jesus and Philip in St. John's Gospel, where Philip wanted Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus replied to him: "You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (Jn. 14:11). The conversation with Nicodemus in the Gospel this Sunday implies that love prompted the Father to send the Son, the bearer of the Holy Spirit, the source of life. This communion with the Father is the goal of our extraordinary mission on earth.

The Holy Trinity is a life of communion to be lived, shared and celebrated liturgically. Therefore, we need to go beyond talking about love, communion, sharing and putting that into practice by being instruments of reconciliation, mercy and communion. As one bishop put it jokingly, the reason why God in creating us does not put us directly into heaven, is 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.

The central message may be summed up in three points. 1) The solemnity of the Holy Trinity is a model of life of communion in God to be lived and imitated; 2) We are challenged to be instruments of reconciliation, healing and communion; 3) To be such instruments, we need to be nourished by prayer and scripture, for example in the family so we can grow into closer communion with one another.

 

 

Gospel Reflection - Pentecost Sunday

By:  Deacon Modesto Cordero

Happy Pentecost Sunday!

On this Solemnity of Pentecost, which concludes our Easter celebration, we are given a ‘Gift of Life’ so that we can faithfully take up Jesus’ saving mission.  However, taking up Jesus’ mission does not mean we will never feel fear, tension, uncertainty, hesitation, and sometimes discouragement.  Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit with his gifts of enduring, inner peace and commitment, so as good Christian stewards we can become able to live and practice the gospel values in face of today’s many challenges.  Just as the disciples on that first Easter evening received peace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, wonder and awe - so do we receive the Holy Spirit and the same gift of peace at our baptism. 

St. Paul reminds that all of our gifts have their source in the Holy Spirit and that those gifts are given “for the common good.”   The Holy Spirit will move us to share our unique God-given gifts with our family, parish and community.  

Pentecost is an invitation to choose to share our love, to choose to move into action, and to choose to be risen Presence to others. This weekend’s “Good News” is that the same Spirit of the Lord, which came to the first disciples at Pentecost, is still at work in the Church today.  Jesus Christ promised to the apostles the Holy Spirit, a paraclete and he fulfilled his promise.  He filled them with the Holy Spirit so they could go forth to proclaim the Good News of Jesus.  As good stewards we are also called to inspire others by sharing our talents, gifts and treasures.  We thank God for His gift of the Holy Spirit, who gives us grace and the way to salvation.  

Peace!

 

 

Hope in the Ascension of Our Lord

By: Fr. Norlito Concepcion 

Ascension Sunday makes us recall the revelation of Jesus’ mission, the summit of the incarnation of Christ who is true God and true Man. Jesus ordered his apostles and disciples to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” 

Make disciples of all nations by baptizing all the nations of the world in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit his command to his chosen few starts not only the mission of the followers of Jesus but is the sign of the start of the era of The Great Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will no longer manifest only in supernatural means, but will be more dynamic through the followers and believers of Jesus. A manifestation that will not just be exclusive to the first Christians but will be a patrimony that will be handed down for many ages and will cross boundaries and cultures.     

Jesus also told his followers that all who they baptize must be instructed to be exemplars by following all his teaching. Such demand to loyalty was in order that his followers and those who will believe and act for him in future ages will not forget that they are not acting alone and in individual character, but in the identity of being in one with Him, and being in possession of the character of Him who is not just human but a new Adam, a new people who will take his place in his physical absence to continue his salvific mission. 

Lastly he assured the endurance of the church that he founded, the apostolic faith that he founded in the rock which is St. Peter and the eleven disciples. Time will end, but his bride will endure the test of time. (St. Augustine) He being there until the end of time tells that he will assume in the midst of the church as “The Almighty” or Pantokrator, (Judge and provider) the one who will correct and the one who will supply necessary grace to persevere. 

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

 

 

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