Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ C

This Sunday the readings underline deep-rooted trust in God as the key to real joy, peace, and happiness as contrasted to the illusion of finding that same joy, peace, and happiness outside of God and the Church. In the face of many challenges and demands by God and the Church for faithfulness, why do we continue to hang around instead of just quitting?

The prophet Jeremiah and Jesus in the gospel respond to those questions in the First reading and the Gospel of today. Jeremiah offers us a number of metaphors, but perhaps one that is most significant is the image of a tree planted beside the waters. The tree is an image of the true disciple. In spite of drought and devastation all around, it stands quietly by the waterside, its foliage green, its branches full of fruit. Jeremiah says that the tree thrusts its roots not on the surface ground, but into the stream. So how do you and I get to be like that tree?

In the gospel passage, we find the mystery of God's love for the poor and the poor person's childlike trust and dependence on God. In Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, it is not material poverty that Jesus calls blessed, but those who are helpless, without influence in society, the voiceless, those uprooted from their justly acquired land, the jobless, hungry, homeless, who put their total trust in God who cares for them. Happy indeed is the person who trusts in the Lord.

1) Trust in the Lord is the secret key to unlocking true joy, peace, and happiness.

2) The Church is the running stream beside which you and I must remain planted if we are to grow and survive. To stop coming to Church is to uproot ourselves.

3) Those who put their total trust in God are blessed and happy as contrasted to those who put their trust in material things. 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ C

  

The miraculous catch of fish we read in the Gospel this Sunday is a symbol of the deep conversion experiences which God grants us from time to time and which set us on a new course in our lives. These experiences usually occur at times when we feel we are inactive – as spouses, parents, church leaders, ministers, or managers in the workplace.

God sends Jesus to us and he tells us to “put out into deep water.” 

We each have our deep water we must put out into: be reconciled with someone we have refused to speak to for years; start working among the poor; get involved in community development; go back to school; attend a Marriage Encounter weekend.

We know that our lives can never be the same again: “from now on it is men you will catch.” God does not want us to go around trying to “catch” people. The text means first getting involved with people, not things, and secondly, that our mission in life is to lead one another into God’s net so that we can all be gathered into his kingdom. The Lord wants us from now on to care for people, help them to grow in self-esteem, move away from addictions, from abusive marriages – ways in which we need to be brought closer to God and feel safe in his net.


This new consciousness means giving up things that we thought important. We do it cheerfully; we are “not afraid” as we bring our boats back to land and without giving them a second thought, leave them there to follow the new way God has called us to...


Peace be with you!

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ C

The first reading is about the call of Jeremiah who is chosen by God even before he was born. “I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations…Stand up and tell them all I command you”. Jeremiah is also warned that his mission will not be easy because his message will certainly meet opposition. The only reason why Jeremiah accepts such an unpopular mission is God’s love and faithfulness in the midst of persecution. “They will fight against you but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you”. This is a clear reminder that it is not the eloquence of God’s messengers that count, but their clear witness to God’s love. Against this background, we see the meaning of Paul’s message in the second reading. Without the kind of love that Paul speaks about, Jeremiah or any messenger of God will fail. Love that is patient and kind and never jealous; a love that is always ready to forgive, to trust, hope and endure whatever comes, is a powerful driving force. That love sustained Paul in his own ministry till martyrdom in Rome and the same love inspired Jesus in His ministry.

The Gospel passage is a clear reminder that when God’s messengers speak the truth in love, they risk rejection and opposition. Jesus in the Synagogue faces such rejection not because he is a local young man of Nazareth, but because his biblical message about God’s universal love and salvation contains a truth that the audience cannot deny, and that angers the religious and political leaders. He is immediately considered dangerous and subversive. “They sprung to their feet and hustled him out of the town…intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away”. The readings remind us that our call to discipleship like that of Jeremiah and Jesus Christ must be rooted in love. We are also assured that God never abandons his faithful messengers when they speak the truth in love.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ C

Both the Gospel and the first reading of this Sunday proclaim a message of liberation to the poor. In the first reading the Israelites have just returned from their long exile in Babylon, where they have been greatly humiliated, and so their spirits are down. They need a word of encouragement to help renew them spiritually and offer them a strong motivation and renewal. Ezra the priest understands their situation and uses the regular worship as a moment for spiritual recommitment as he reads from the Book of the Law of God. We are told that “all the people listened attentively”. The message seems to touch the audience deeply, and the people are ready to recommit themselves to their God and to embark on a spiritual, moral and physical renewal of Jerusalem. Here we find a good pastoral example in the way the priest Ezra applies the Word of God in a concrete situation with great success in the spiritual renewal of the people.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus like Ezra reads a Scripture passage in the Synagogue. The passage given to Jesus from Isaiah is a concrete fulfillment in his own person and ministry. He declares that “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” The passage is a summary of Jesus’ pastoral plan of establishing his kingdom that is already accomplished. Jesus is sent by the Father, “to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free and to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor”. In blending this text from Isaiah with the words of Jesus at the end, Luke highlights the fact that indeed Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the prophets. 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ C

As we begin the Ordinary Time of the Year, the readings remind us of some themes we heard over the Christmas season. They outline several themes on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the new era inaugurated by Jesus Christ. One overarching theme is renewal. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah uses poetic metaphors that point to the renewal of God’s people. In that call for renewal, God promises to give his people a new name: “My Delight”. The Lord will espouse you; make you his bride and delight in you as a bridegroom delights in his bride. That marriage metaphor describes a new relationship with God that transforms our humiliation and setbacks to exaltation and joyful triumph. All that newness is from God, who creates a new people; a new land out of desolation; a new Spirit-filled community.

In the Gospel passage, the miracle of changing water into wine by Jesus is a metaphor for the transformation of the world realized in the proclamation of the kingdom, in the ministry of Jesus that now begins publicly. The Church has traditionally seen this first sign by Jesus as the fourth manifestation in sequence since Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, which is followed by the story of Marriage of Cana. In this event, God reveals his Son again in the context of a marriage relationship. He works the first miracle in order to give a temporal favor, an earthly gift to save a newly married groom from embarrassment. The miracle is also a self-manifestation of who Jesus is. Just as He can change water into wine, similarly He can change our past into a different future; our talents into wonderful gifts for the Church. Jesus transforms ordinary lives to accomplish an extraordinary mission of entering into communion with Him and the Triune God.

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

The Baptism of the Lord

      Today, we celebrate the feast of “The Baptism of the Lord” by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. And in so doing, the Church invites all of us to renew our own baptismal promises, so that we can live ever more transparently as a disciple of Jesus, trying to do what is right, and true, and good, and beautiful.

      It is very true that we receive baptism only once in our lifetime, but it is never a one-time event. We step into those waters once.  We walk through that doorway once.  We are bonded to the family of faith, the Church, once. And yet, the promises, and possibilities, and challenges of baptism are ongoing.  Our commitment to Jesus is not a one-time thing.  It’s a daily thing. And our need to be washed clean and created anew was not a one-time thing either.  It’s a central part of an authentic journey of faith --- a journey on which we strive to be the beautiful people God created us to be, Jesus died for us to be, and the Holy Spirit descended for us to be --- even though we know in our hearts that we will sometimes stumble and fall.

      And so, let us not treat our baptisms as something that simply happened long ago.  Rather, let us acknowledge our continual need to be healed, to be cleansed, to be made brand new once again.  And may every time we do the simple act of dipping our fingers in holy water at church be an opportunity for us to give thanks to God for our baptism long ago, and also be an opportunity to recommit ourselves to living as children of God, clothed in Christ, pouring out God’s love and mercy and understanding everywhere we go - and this is the Good News of today. 

Peace be with you!

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

The Epiphany of the Lord

Spread the light to others

The word ‘epiphany’ means to make known or to reveal or to manifest. John describes Jesus who was born in the darkness of night as “the light (that) shines in the darkness…. the true light, which enlightens everyone… (John 1:5, 9)” Today’s Feast of the Epiphany tells us that this light that has come into the world now reveals himself to the human race. The angels made known to the shepherds the joy of the birth of Jesus. In the same way, the star led these strangers, the magi, from the East and revealed the same Jesus to them. Through the birth of Jesus and today’s wonderful feast, we are the people on whom a great light has shone. And like the shepherds of Jerusalem and the magi from the East, we have come from various corners of the world to adore him. Our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah calls us to ‘Arise, shine out because our light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising in us…” These Magi were “wise men” who studied the stars and were aware of the Jewish belief that a Messiah was coming. God used what they were familiar with to call them to adore  Christ. He used a star. So, the first lesson we take from this for our own lives is that God will use what is familiar to us to call us to Himself. Look for the “star” that God is using to call you.  A second thing to note is that the Magi fell prostrate before the Christ Child. They laid their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration. They set a perfect example for us. If these astrologers (pagans) could come and adore Christ in such a profound way, we must do the same. Adore Him with a complete surrender of your life. Thirdly, the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These three gifts, presented to our Lord, show that they acknowledged this Child as the Divine King who would die to save us from sin. Gold is for a King, frankincense is a burnt offering to God, and myrrh is used for one who would die. Thus, their adoration is grounded in the truths of who this Child is. If we are to adore Christ properly, we must also honor Him in this threefold way, by giving him the best of ourselves.

Finally, the shepherds did not stay at the stable after seeing Jesus; they left glorifying and praising God. Just as the angels had proclaimed the good news to them, the shepherd in their turn shared their good news with others. In the same way, the visitors from the east, after they had given Jesus their gifts also left the stable. We can only assume, that they too told everyone what they had seen and heard in that small stable in Bethlehem. As we look upon the crib, we cannot stay there. Like the shepherds and the magi, we too are called to move away and take the light of Jesus with us. Through the quality of our daily lives and how we treat each other, we are called to make our families, homes, parish communities and the wider world a better and brighter place for all people, especially the poor and the marginalized.   

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Image result for holy family II

Today, we are celebrating the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Church sets the Holy Family before us as a model of what our families should be like. And while it’s a day to take a close look at the Holy Family, to admire the Holy Family, and to give thanks to God for them and for their example, it’s also a chance for us to look at our individual families. And not just in a superficial way, but to actually think about what can/should/will make our families holy.

Our holiness comes from our connection to God, from our relationship with God. A holy family walks with God. And just as that Holy Family welcomed God, we are to welcome the gift of each other that God has given us. When we look at our own families we see many ways we can live out that call to service. Husbands and wives serve each other to achieve their salvation. To be a parent is to be a servant. We pray for and with each other.

We learn from the Holy Family that we are to walk with God, that we are to serve each other. And if we do this, then we make our little corner of the world holier. We allow God to make our lives holy.

Thank you, Jesus, for helping us build holy families. Mary and Joseph, please pray for us --- that our families may come to reflect the best in yours.

Peace be with you!

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Fourth Sunday of Advent

On this final Sunday of Advent, God through the prophet Micah promises a unique Savior, born in David’s town of Bethlehem; a Savior who will stand and feed his flock and establish peace. The prophet speaks of God bestowing on Bethlehem the distinction of being the birthplace of an ideal ruler of Israel. However, only God knows when this ruler will come. When he does come, he will be the true shepherd of Israel and the servant of God. Significantly, the Messiah “shall be peace” and bring about total harmony among the nations and the ends of the earth will hear of his wisdom.

Luke in the gospel very skillfully sets the stage for the coming of the Messiah. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth focuses on the meeting of the two expectant mothers which is also the meeting of their sons. Before the mystery of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and praises Mary for her faith and trust in God. This beautiful meeting leads us into the very center of Advent, namely the prayerful anticipation of the mystery already among us. As we approach Christmas, we are called to imitate Elizabeth who recognizes and rejoices in the humble presence of Christ our Savior. Like Mary in her obedience of faith, we are called to believe that the promise made to us by the Lord will indeed be fulfilled in the mystery of Christ’s presence in our lives. We are constantly challenged in our faith to take Christ to others as Mary did, so that Christ who is secretly present in us, may touch the lives of others. Like Mary, we are called personally and as a parish community to go out and share the Good News of salvation with others. As we approach Christmas, like Elizabeth we recognize and rejoice in the presence of Christ our Savior. 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Gaudete Sunday, Rejoice Sunday!

Today is “Gaudete Sunday,” Rejoice Sunday.

The Church gives us this Third Sunday of Advent to remind us how close we are to celebrating the Incarnation, how close we are to Christ’s coming at Christmas.  The words of St. Paul in the second reading give the day this name: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!”

That same sentiment is echoed in the first reading from the prophet Zephaniah: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!” “Sing joyfully, O Israel !”  We’re only nine days away from Christmas, and so we light a rose-colored candle, we use rose-colored vestments, we hear these enthusiastic words of rejoicing and joy.

This season, for our joy to be complete, we have our own role to play. This role is what John the Baptist spelt out in today’s gospel. For our joy to be complete this season we must be charitable, forgiving, caring, just, modest in all our actions, seek reconciliation and peace. We must shun all acts that are capable of making life difficult for others. We need patience and constancy which are very important spiritual virtues. Patience and constancy in the practice of God’s commandments this Advent will lead us very soon to sanctity and the fullness of joy.

As we wait joyfully for the fulfillment of Christ’s promises to us this season, may the Almighty God fill our hearts with charity and goodwill.

Peace be with you!

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Repent and Return to the Lord

As we continue our spiritual journey in this season of Advent, our liturgy reminds us that the past, present, and future coming of Jesus into the world is the fulfillment of the saving plan of God. Our readings for this 2nd Sunday of Advent seek to help us to make ourselves ready to receive him. In the first reading, Isaiah consoles the Jewish in Babylon by assuring them that the Lord will restore their homeland to them and care for them as a shepherd cares for the sheep. The Gospel tells us that the restoration of the fallen world has already begun, starting with the arrival of John the Baptist, the messenger and forerunner of the Messiah. John speaks of one, more powerful than he – Jesus Christ – who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit. Surely Christ made his first coming and each of us has received the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism.

Our Second Reading makes it clear that the salvation promised by Isaiah was not completely accomplished even by the first coming of Jesus. It is only when Jesus comes again at the end of time that Isaiah's words will be entirely fulfilled. Hence, Peter warns against false teachers who have given up any expectation of Christ’s return because of its long delay. So Peter reminds them that even though the Second Coming seems to be delayed, Christ will indeed come as promised. The fact is that the risen Lord is eternal and infinite and so is not measured by time in fulfilling promises. Besides, God “is patient” with us, giving us more time to repent of our sins and renew our lives.

It is for this reason that the message of John the Baptist, calling people to repent and return to the Lord, is very relevant during this season of Advent. What is repentance? We tend to think of repentance as feeling guilty about our sins, but it is more—much more. The Greek word for repentance, metanoia, means a change of mind or direction. It is related to the Hebrew word tesubah, used by prophets to call Israel to abandon its sinful ways and to return to God. Both words (metanoia and tesubah) imply “a total change of spiritual direction.” 

We are, therefore, invited by the Church to prepare to receive Christ by repenting of our sins and renewing our lives so that Jesus may be reborn in us. We do this when we turn this Advent season into a real spiritual “homecoming” by allowing Christ to radiate his presence all around us. John’s preaching reminds us also of our important task of announcing Christ to others through our lives at home and in the community. When we show real love, kindness, mercy and a spirit of forgiveness, we are announcing the truth that Christ is with us. Thus, our lives become a kind of Bible which others can read. 

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

First Sunday of Advent

The First Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new year in the Church’s liturgical life. Advent is a season of preparation. We prepare our homes to celebrate the feast of Christmas and we prepare spiritually to greet Christ when he comes again. A time to prepare ourselves for God to break into our hearts and lives once again, starting us on a new chapter, a more meaningful and more faithful chapter. It is a golden opportunity to make a new start in our personal spiritual journey, through the choices we make during this new Church year.

In today’s gospel from Luke, Jesus reminds us how easy it is to get lost in the busy activities of December. He warns us: Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. Without prayer and embracing intentional stillness in the season of Advent it is so easy to feel as if the weeks before Christmas are racing by at a breathless pace.

This Advent season, we pray for the strength to listen to those we do not want to hear, to reorder our priorities to allow ourselves to be present to those who need some attention, to focus on serving another rather than simply ticking one more item off our to-do list, to act for justice in our community and in our world.

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE ~B

This Sunday, we celebrate Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the universe. The first reading points to Jesus who saves others by his own death and resurrection, and thereby enters into the glory of the Father. The Book of Revelation shows that the glorification of Christ does not come at a cheap price. The King of all creation is revealed to us on the cross for the love of the Father. Christ is a King with a difference, a King who brings justice; a King who brings love and peace; a King who heals all who believe in him by his suffering, death, and resurrection.

The Gospel passage from John presents to us one of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament. In this passage, an arrogant Pilate is perplexed by Jesus’ claim to be king; a different kind of king he could not deal with. When asked if he is a king, Jesus does not claim the title, but says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” Jesus further shows that his kingship is one that witnesses to the truth, which implies the revelation of God’s wisdom. Jesus speaks the truth about God and humanity and defends that truth with his own blood on the Cross. Accepting such truth leads to freedom; to salvation; to the healing of our inner life.

The message is straightforward. We can accept or reject the author truth and life, or we can reject him cynically like Pilate and the secular world. This solemnity challenges us to let Jesus transform us into his own image, as instruments of justice, peace, and love; as instruments of God’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King next Sunday to mark the end of our Liturgical Year, our readings today draw our attention to the end of time. In our gospel today, we heard Jesus talk about the end of the world and how everything will disappear from the face of the earth. We heard a similar message in our first reading from the prophet Daniel.

As these readings talk about the end of the world, they want us to reflect about our own lives, that our lives here on earth will pass away. However, both Daniel and Jesus do not intend to frighten us but to give us hope. Jesus assures us that we are going to see his second coming when he will come back to gather his Elect (his chosen ones) and take them back to heaven. And Daniel says, “…at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.”

What it means is that God loves us so much and that he wants us to be with him forever. The Psalm we sang today was about how God is our inheritance! That’s also exactly what our second reading talked about: that by his sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus has won forgiveness for our sins. He has made a way for us to be with him at the right hand of God in Heaven. We are made for Heaven.

That’s such a beautiful promise to us. And we are called upon to believe that promise and live what we believe! That is why the readings impress upon us that as Jesus comes back to bring us home, we need to make ourselves ready to go back with him. But how do we do that? Jesus says: “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” Jesus wants us to know that at the end of our lives, God is going to ask us to give an account of our stewardship. However, God’s judgment isn’t something we should be afraid of. That’s why Jesus tells us that nobody knows when the world will end because that’s not what’s important. It doesn’t matter when the world will end, or when our lives will end. What’s important is what we are doing right now. How are we living right now? What are we doing with our lives? God made each one of us for a reason. He has plans for our lives. God has expectations for our lives. He wants us to use the gift of our life to share his love, to make life more meaningful for those around us and lead others to him.

Jesus wants us to be ready when he comes again and the best way to live with Jesus in Heaven is to live with him on earth. Through our daily acts of charity and love for others, we are sharing in the life of Christ.  

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

What kind of givers are we?

The readings this weekend tell of two stories of generosity.  Both concerns two very poor people: two widows.  The widow of Zarephath from the first reading teaches us how to be an instrument of God’s providence.  She offers hospitality by giving what she has trusting that what we need will be provided.  Then we wonder how someone who was as poor as the widow in the Gospel was able to perform such an act of spontaneous goodness.  One needs to have been faithful over many years to the practice of generosity to have had a heart like hers.  

It is not achieved by a few great deeds but by a lot of little ones.  Jesus praises the poor widow, who drops only two small coins in the coffer of the temple, unlike the others who put in their surplus money.   In exalting the poor widow’s gift, Jesus makes us realize that numbers are not the true value of giving in the “economy” of God.  It is what we give from our want, not from our extra, that reveals what we truly value and what we want our lives and the world to be.  It is not the measure of the gift but the measure of the love that directs the gift that is great before God.  It is not the knowledge we have attained nor the wealth we command but our willingness to put those things at the service of others that gives meaning to our faith.  It is not the size of what we give or the impact of what we do but the love and sacrifice in which we give that makes our gift to another holy in God’s eyes.   

What set the widow’s offerings apart was not just its proportion to their means; there was something in their characters that lifted the gift out of routine into the realm of sacrifice.   No gift of love is too small, and nothing escapes the notice of God from whom no secrets are hidden. 

What kind of givers are we?  Do we give ourselves or from our excess?  Jesus’ challenge is to give everything we have, without holding anything back.  Let us strive to be like the widows who demonstrated trust and generosity.  Let us be mindful that Christ himself served as the perfect example of generosity by offering his life so that our own thirst and hunger could be quenched.  Let us likewise be instruments of Christ’s unselfish giving. 

Peace!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ B

Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! –Mark 12:29

As we read these passages, we could really identify with the scribe in today’s Sunday Gospel reading. The scribe’s question relates quite well to our own experiences. Instead of just saying all of his commandments are equally important, Jesus answers the scribe by first emphasizing that God is God alone and without equal. Therefore, we should love and serve God with all of our being. Jesus shows that we are called to direct our whole lives to God, which includes our actions and choices. As a result, we should view the rest of Jesus’ teachings as helping us to love and come closer to God.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. - Mark 12:31

Jesus then points out that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Make note that when Jesus talks about ‘neighbor’ it is not only the one living next-door, but also the sick and suffering, poor and powerless, lonely and forsaken, widows and widowers and elderly. We are called to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which enables us to more fully see God’s presence in the world. In loving God in one another, we find the ultimate meaning and purpose of the gift of faith and life. Let us all do as God does, not wait to be loved, but be the first to love.

 

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU?

A friend asked me this question: “Father, you people say God is all-knowing, loving, and caring. If that is the case, why do you still ask God for your needs?” My answer to him was “You are right; we express our faith in a God who is all-knowing, loving and caring. He knows what we want and what we need. Hence, Prayer does not inform God. However, prayer involves God. God wants us to invite him to become involved in our day-to-day lives. Secondly, we need to tell him our needs because he wants to know how much faith we have in him. Bartimaeus was very persistent in calling for the attention of Jesus despite the discouragement of the crowd.  His persistence and his throwing away his cloak showed his deep faith in God.

While God certainly knows our deepest need, many times we don’t know what we need. Last Sunday James and John, with a wrong attitude and motive, made a request for something that Jesus felt they did not need and they were reprimanded. Today, the blind man, Bartimaeus knew what he needed and he expressed it. He needed God’s mercy and to be able to see. The Lord granted his request upon seeing his humility and strong faith and his desire to be a disciple of his.

Prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue between two friends, or a loving Father and his beloved daughter/ son. You talk to him and also listen to him. In prayer, as God listens to our request, he in turn tells us what we really need. That is why the Mass is the best and greatest of prayers. We come to commune with our loving Father, where Jesus the High Priest offers himself to his Father on our behalf, brings our supplication to His Father. But he does that after he has listened to us and instructed us to know what is his Father’s will for us and what we really need.

The story of Bartimaeus is our story too. We have our various blindness, both physical and spiritual. That is why we are all here in Church responding to the call of Christ just as Bartimaeus did when Christ called him to come after he had cried out asking Jesus to have mercy on him. Do not come to Church and go home without telling God what you are coming for. We have to be clear with what we need.

Finally, prayer makes us commit ourselves to the Lord. Bartimaeus after receiving his healing did not go on his own way, but rather “followed” Jesus on Jesus’ way. He became a disciple of Jesus. The encounter with Jesus was so life changing for Bartimaeus that Jesus’ way became his way; his whole way of life revolved around Jesus. We share in the common priesthood of Christ. At the end of Mass, we are told: “go in peace glorifying God by your life.” 

 

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

Twenty- Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ B

The readings this Sunday focus our attention on Christ the suffering servant, as our model of Christian leadership. In the first reading from Isaiah, the prophet sings about the suffering servant who through his suffering, shall justify many and bear their guilt. The passage is taken from the fourth song (Isaiah 53) and is applied to Christ who gives his life so that all may be saved. By a wonderful coincidence, the Gospel focuses on Jesus teaching on Christian leadership as service. Every ministry in our parish is service to the whole parish community. On this stewardship renewal Sunday, it is important we reflect on the way Jesus intends us to serve in our ministries.

 

At all levels of Church life starting from the universal level to the parish communities, one is struck by the ambitious seeking after positions of leadership quite similar to that of the sons of Zebedee in the Gospel. Jesus knew the human condition very well and wanted to let the two disciples and the rest know what they were really asking for. The two are quite familiar with Jesus and so they ask for a favor that turns out to be sitting at Jesus’ right and left in his kingdom. So Jesus asks them. “Can you drink the cup that I must drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said we can. The response of Jesus that they will drink of the cup he must drink (persecution) and indeed be baptized with the baptism He will be baptized (DEATH)! As for places on the right and left, Jesus response is kind of ignoring their request because that is selfish and ambitious. What follows next is Jesus teaching true spirit of leadership as service. It is not about positions, but offering oneself sacrificially: one’s time, talent and treasure for others.

 

This teaching of Jesus challenges us to assume an attitude and style of humble service as Jesus did for us. “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Life is a precious gift from God, and so is time, talent and treasure.

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Are We “Good Stewards?”

“May your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and follow after and make us always determined to carry out good works.”  These words from today’s opening prayer defines truly what a “good steward” is.  Good stewards are covered and protected by God’s grace so that they can perform good deeds with their time, talent and treasure.  We are called to be the good stewards of the Lord!  As the rich young man of our Gospel, Jesus asks us to put aside what is keeping us from God in order to fully engage with those in need.  Jesus’ question is not whether money is good or bad.  The challenge is what we do with our time, talent and treasure for the benefit of all.   The rich young man from the gospel can’t embrace Jesus’ call to let go of what is so central to his person.  What about us?  Can we let go?  Can we embrace the call of Jesus to share our talents with our community?  Do we have the desire to take few hours a week to share our time with those members of our community in need?  Could we see ourselves giving up some of our wants so we can give more of our treasure to the Church or charity?   Understanding the idea of stewardship is relatively simple, it can be hard in practice.  In terms of time it is good to consider taking on a “spiritual exercise” such as praying a rosary when you normally would have watched a television show.  

Share your talents with our community.  Get involve in one of our many ministries.  Make sure your entire family is involved in it.  Sometimes we let money rule not only our budget but our hearts and spirits as well.  “Spiritualize” the practice of giving to the Church by praying over your donation envelope, either by yourself or with your family.  Teach your children the importance of sharing their wealth with others in need.  Make sure that contributions are understood by the whole family.  Ask your children to place your family envelope in the basket.  I hope some of these ideas will resonate with you.  Let’s always keep in mind that stewardship is spirituality - a way of living our life in the knowledge that everything is a gift from God, and that we have a responsibility to use our gifts for God’s purposes.  

Peace!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

         In today’s Gospel reading, we see the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus: “Is it really against the law for a man to divorce his wife? After all Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” Even today, many people question the laws and teachings of the Church. Many people are breaking the law, so why can’t the Church change according to the times? We must always distinguish between those who are law-breakers, victims of the law, and victims of circumstances. We have no right to sit in judgment, to point a finger at others. We are called to be compassionate and understanding of the weaknesses of others.  We have always to distinguish between the person and the law. At the same time we see Jesus speaks clearly and directly. He lays down the law as it is. The Law will not change to suit our notions and fancies or for our own convenience.  Marriage is for life, commitment is for life. We want our marriage relationships to last until death and they will, if we work at them and let God be an integral part of our lives. 

     Perhaps the last part of the Gospel gives us one way in which we can make our relationships work: Jesus let the little children come to him and blessed them. The child symbolizes dependence on another; their parents. For our relationships to work we depend on God. Lastly, even as we grow and mature we must never lose the sense of wonder that we had as children. One of the things that strike us about children is how they can get engrossed in the simplest of things; they forget everything else and enjoy that moment, that thing, that person. That ability to wonder can keep us going and we will find there is always something to be grateful for in our married relationships and in life itself. 

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe