Solemnity of Most Blessed Trinity

Solemnity of Most Blessed Trinity

The doctrine Most Holy Trinity is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity and the greatest mystery of our Faith. This mystery of the Trinity is both simple and complex. Simply stated it is that there is only one God, yet that one God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That means there are Three Divine Persons, sharing the same Divine nature in one God. The complexity comes from the struggle our mere human minds have when trying to adequately understand this mystery of one in three.

Many people in the history of the church have offered some explanations. Yet the Trinitarian Life is not meant to be a problem to be solved or an understanding to be figured out. The Trinity and our adoption into the life of the Triune God is a mystery to be lived.

The essence of God is the loving relationship. The relationship between the three persons of the Blessed Trinity is first and foremost a relationship within the divinity itself. The Father relates to the Son and the Spirit, just as the Son relates to His Father and the Holy Spirit, in turn, the Spirit is the relationship between Father and Son. Yet the divine loving relationship is so powerful it has chosen to spill out into creation.

That is why today’s readings seek to summarize the effects of the Trinity in our daily lives. Not only is all of creation the result of God’s loving relationship as we heard in the first reading, but God has also taken an active role in the continuing relationship with humanity. Paul, in our second reading, speaks about the gift of salvation which God the Father has extended to us in and through the Jesus Christ, the Son and poured out upon us by the love which flows from the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, Jesus promises a further share in the life of God by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  

In effect, the feast invites us to live in the awareness of the presence of the Triune God within us. Our conviction of the presence of the Triune God within us should help us to esteem ourselves as God’s holy dwelling place, to lead purer and holier lives,  practicing acts of justice and charity. Secondly, the Feast invites us to see the Trinity as the model for our Christian families, to practice the Trinitarian relationship of love and unity in the family relationships of father, mother, and children. Thirdly, we are challenged to practice the I–God–my neighbor vertical and horizontal Trinitarian relationship in society by loving God who lives in others.

Finally, like God the Father, we are called upon to be productive and creative persons by contributing to the building up of the fabric of life and love in our family, our Church, our community and our nation. Like God the Son, we are called upon to reconcile, to be peacemakers, to put back together that which has been broken, to restore what has been shattered. Like God the Holy Spirit, it is our task to uncover and teach truth and to dispel ignorance.

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

Pentecost Sunday

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” This Sunday, we affirm and celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. This is what we call Pentecost. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek (πεντηκοστή), which means the fiftieth day. Fifty days after the resurrection, Christ fulfills his promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. Pentecost is one of the most colorful celebrations in the liturgical year. In 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. The Holy Spirit works in our lives like fire: illuminating our minds to understand the truth; warming our cold hearts and revitalizing our energy. 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 of a wonderful diversity of gifts for the growth of the community. 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 fulfills 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). There are those who give witness today by living in the way that Jesus taught as the only way to live. The first reading, we hear that everyone in Jerusalem heard the apostles and disciples speaking in their own language. Biblical scholars interpret the apostles’ gift of speaking in languages understood by all present in terms of a prophetic sign of the worldwide mission and proclamation of God’s kingdom in all known languages of the world today. That is how powerful the Holy Spirit can be if we allow him into our lives. The power of the Holy Spirit is the greatest untapped power in the world. In the readings of today, we see some of the things the Holy Spirit makes possible: communication in a language deeper than words; inner peace; transformation; the forgiveness of sins; reconciliation and unity between estranged people; and every worthwhile gift. When we are open to the power of the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish incredible things we never imagined. 

Msgr. John Mbinda

Celebrating the Ascension of the Lord!

Celebrating the Ascension of the Lord!

This weekend our church celebrates the last of Jesus’ earthly mysteries: The Ascension of the Lord.  This celebration is one of the great truths 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!  The Ascension means that we can live now every day with the hope of heaven; knowing that where Jesus has gone, we can follow — into the highest heavens!  Jesus’ ascension is also the start of our mission, the mission that Christ gave to his Church!  In the reading from the Acts of the   Apostles, Jesus assures his disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,   throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  These words apply to us today.  These words are a call for evangelization, to spread the Good News, Jesus is asking us to be his witnesses too.  On one level, that’s a challenge—because becoming witnesses of Jesus in a certain way means to become a “martyr.”  Martyrdom requires sacrifice.  

However, there are various types of martyrdom.  Like the martyrdom of not having the last word.  The martyrdom of forgiving those who have done us wrong and the everyday martyrdom of simply being a witness to the Gospel – which often involves something we find increasingly elusive: mercy.  The feast of the Lord’s ascension reminds us that the personal body of Jesus disappeared from our view in order that his Mystical Body might appear to us, thanks to the sending of the promised Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need to continue Jesus’ mission, to be his apostles, to be his witnesses.  We are now empowered to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth – to use our time and talents to spread the Good News of salvation.  

So, 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.  We have heard it again and again in the readings, and for a good reason.  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.  Jesus wants to lift everything up to God!  He 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, Year C

Central to the Gospel passage today is the words of Jesus concerning the peace that he gives to his disciples as his farewell gift to them. But Jesus tells them that the peace he gives them is different from what the world offers. One of the popular misconceptions about peace is that peace involves the total absence of conflict or difficulties. However, because of the imperfection of man, conflicts and misunderstanding must arise; because we live in a society where each individual is unique, it is normal to experience differences of behavior and conflicting opinions. What matters most is not the conflicts that come up as we interact with each other but how we react to them.

Jesus' peace is not just on the surface; it is something deep down which can be there even in times of hardship, conflict, and suffering. Jesus is talking about inner peace, the peace of having God with us in our walks through life; the effects of the abiding presence of God in our lives. The peace that he bequeaths is the spiritual serenity and certainty that comes from harmony and profound communion with God and His son Jesus. That is why Jesus tells us in the Gospel today: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).

Abiding with the Word of God, with its consequent communion in the love of the Father and the Son, is made possible when the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts. That is why Jesus links the peace he gives with the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the early Church sought to live in love and share the gift of peace. We have a vivid example of this in the First   Reading of today from the Acts of the Apostles. The first reading tells us how the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the Church, helped the apostles to solve a major doctrinal problem, which shook the very foundation of the early Church.

In our world today, many families have torn apart and relationships are broken because of the inability of the parties to go into dialogue. Communities go to war because they cannot tolerate each other. We can demonstrate our tolerance at home, by focusing on the strengths of members of the family rather than their weaknesses. We can show our tolerance at the workplace by showing kindness and acceptance to all – not just those who are comfortable with us and our ideas.

Peace is the product of dialogue and tolerance, driven by love and obedience,   inspired by the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, to be able to receive these gifts, it is necessary for us to spend a little time each day in personal prayer, talking to God and listening to Him. 

By:  Father Joseph Ayinpuusa

Fifth Sunday of Easter

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus tells us that our love for one another, even within the Church, is to be a witness to an unbelieving world. “They will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.” I don’t know about you, but I have to examine my conscience daily to see if that, in fact, is the case. I suppose we would be a true sign to the world around us if we really lived it.

Now the newness of the command that Jesus gives is at least partially, maybe entirely, in the motivation for observing it. “Love one another as I have loved you.” We mirror Christ’s love in our own love. That, I think, goes beyond loving our neighbor as ourselves and that’s what makes it new! Christ loved us unto his death. That’s a sobering thought. How willing am I to give my life for another? And the motivation is simply that is the way that Christ loved us.

We all have our part to play in creating a new heaven and a new earth, not in some unclear, undetermined future, but right here and now. It may be a large part; it may be a small one, but we must play it. As we pray together today, let’s ask ourselves, as we ask God, what can we, here at St. John Apostle and  Evangelist do to help build a better world. How can we help God bring about a new heaven and a new earth?

By:  Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Shepherd, listening and following the Risen Lord are the keywords that capture the central message of this Fourth Sunday of Easter also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The readings first remind us that the risen Christ, the Lamb slain for our sins is our Shepherd who gives us eternal life. That is the fulfillment of the vision in the Book of Revelations that speaks about those who are finally rewarded with new life, where they will never hunger nor be thirsty again. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is about the evangelizing efforts of the early Church. It draws our attention to the difficulties that beset that Church in its witness. Paul and Barnabas follow the voice of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the message of the Shepherd to the Jews. The rejection of the Good News by the Jews in Antioch becomes a blessing in disguise because Paul and Barnabas turn to the Gentiles who warmly welcome the Good News. The comforting message is clear. Countless difficulties, opposition, deceit, and persecution have never succeeded in blocking the evangelizing mission of the Church.

The Gospel of this Sunday proclaims the good news of comfort for millions of people in the world today. It also offers us a great challenge. The comforting message is that the sheep listen to the shepherd’s voice and that no one can snatch the sheep out of the Father’s hands. The challenge for both the pastors and lay faithful alike is to recognize the voice of the shepherd in the midst of opposition, countless voices of other churches, the TV channels, the Internet, Facebook, Tweets? We do that by remaining close to other the sheep and our spiritual family. The challenge is caring for one another by being what Pope Francis has called custodians of one another to discern the voice of the Shepherd, the Risen Lord.

The message we take home this Sunday is threefold.  1) We are challenged to listen and follow the Risen Lord who shepherds us through the Church.  2)  Just as the risen Lord is the lamb who dies for us and suffers with us, you and I are challenged to reach out with compassion to those who suffer.   3) As an Easter people touched by the risen Lord, we are challenged to purposely reach out to those who are weak in their faith; those tested by the many conflicting voices in the world; those led away from the flock, away from the Shepherd and bring them back home to the fold.

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Second Sunday of Easter (Sunday of Divine Mercy)

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter and with it, we conclude the Octave of Easter. This Sunday is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope St. John Paul II established the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, to remind us of God’s endless mercy, especially as revealed to St.  Faustina Kowalski (1905 – 1938).

Today’s Gospel recalls Jesus’ institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a Sacrament of Divine Mercy. In the gospel, we find the first disciples dispirited and terrified after the death of Jesus, not only   because of fear of the Jews, but also because they felt sad and guilty. They had to confront their failure to be faithful to Jesus in the hour of his passion and death. So, at His very First apparition to them after his resurrection, Jesus begins by wishing them ‘Peace.’  By that the risen Lord was reconciling his failed disciples to himself and re-affirming his love and friendship with them. Thus, they came to recognize themselves as forgiven, and, so their hearts were filled with joy.

Having experienced the gift of the Lord’s forgiveness, they are sent out in the power of the Spirit to proclaim and offer others the gift of forgiveness they have received. The Risen Lord gave his apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins with the words, “Whose sins you forgive are  forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are “retained” (Jn 20: 19-23.)  Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God,” the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed his mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.

The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, explains how the Risen Lord continued to show His Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of the apostles in the early Church. 

One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The sacrament of reconciliation is a privileged moment of reconciliation when we receive anew the Lord’s forgiveness and extend that forgiveness to those who have hurt us. That gift of God’s forgiveness is given to all of us who have been baptized in the risen Jesus. Let us accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy and the more frequent moments of reconciliation: the daily forgiveness of our brothers and sisters; the speaking of the hard words, ‘I am sorry’ and the gracious acceptance of another’s offer of apology. In these moments, Jesus is standing in our midst, helping us to break out of situations that can be draining of life.

We pray to be touched by the Holy Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart and restores us to the joy of the Father’s love and friendship. Let us also ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and leads us to serve those we encounter with love.

Fr. Joseph Ayinpuusa

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

To all visitors, new parishioners and all of you regular parishioners,

Christ is Risen and welcomes you to celebrate the joy of the Resurrection!

In the Gospel, the discovery of the empty tomb by Mary of Magdala may have been very disappointing or even confusing. However, the fact of the empty tomb is also good news! John, who writes today’s the Gospel, tells us that he entered into the empty tomb. He throws light on the confusion when he writes, “he saw and he believed”. What exactly did Saint John believe? When he saw the empty tomb, he had the insight of faith that Christ was indeed risen as He had promised. Encounter with the risen Lord that same evening changed the disciples completely.

Easter Vigil and today Easter Sunday and all Sundays are moments of unique encounters with the risen Lord. Anyone who encounters the risen Lord can never be the same again. The resurrection is the nerve center of our faith. To quote Bishop Robert Barron (Auxiliary Bishop of LA), “If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, all bishops, priests and Christian ministers should go home and get honest jobs, and all Christian faithful should leave their churches immediately.” When you think of it, that is shocking, but that is what St. Paul meant when he wrote: “If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and we are the most pitiable men.” (1 Cor 15:14)

To conclude here are three take away points: 1) You and I know that the story of Jesus does not end on the Cross but that the resurrection transforms the disciples and everyone who encounters the risen Lord. 2) The resurrection is the centerpiece of our Christian faith. We can never be the same after encountering the risen Lord. 3) On this Easter day, may the resurrection of Christ transform us so we may live as Easter people throughout this season and throughout the year.

Christ is risen! He is Truly risen! Alleluia! 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Palm Sunday, with its palms, processions, and readings, is one of the special days that can call to mind strong emotional connections in our spiritual history, for those of us who have been in the church most of our lives. For those who are newer to Catholicism and Christianity, I suspect it still makes an impact because of its uniqueness.

We heard the story proclaimed today, a story of unbearable sadness and disappointment. A story of betrayal, fear, and denial. A story of pain, suffering, and abandonment. And our God is right in the midst of all of it - embracing it in its totality - carrying the weight and brokenness and sin of the world upon himself. And all Jesus does through it all is love, no matter what is going on around him or being done to him. And we do believe, sincerely. It is also about accepting, embracing and venturing out on a journey, a sacred journey which invites each of us to ask ourselves a critical question, one that has real implications for our lives.  

How far are we willing to go?

We all know that living a life of faith can be tremendously hard and difficult.

This Holy Week is an opportunity for us to unite our own journeys, unite our own lives—the good and the bad— with that of our Lord Jesus. But it takes faith. It takes courage. It takes trust and hope.

And that’s because we know where it leads... 

......but that is not where it ends. 

And that makes all the difference.

Have a blessed Holy Week everyone!!!!

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Fifth Sunday of Lent

We are nearing the end of Lent.  Next week will be Palm Sunday and together we will read the account of Jesus’ passion and death. Throughout this time of Lenten fasting, our intention has been to loosen the holding material things have over us.  By removing the indulgences of food, drink, and possessions, we are able to focus on what gives our life direction and purpose, our relationship with Jesus.  So as we come closer to the beginning of the Holy Week, instead of waning, our spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving should become even more intense.

This weekend we are celebrating the third scrutiny for our Elect and our readings are from the Year A.  These readings speak about three different meanings of death.  For the prophet Ezekiel, death means to be in exile. Paul speaks about death as living in sin.  The Gospel of John shares the story about the death of Lazarus, Jesus’ beloved friend.  Jesus asks the Father to return Lazarus back to the living.  By doing this God’s glory is manifested in the earth and Jesus’ followers will be transformed.  They will believe in him.  But Jesus’ death is still ahead and it will be another transformational moment.  Within the violence of the crucifixion, Jesus’ infinite love will transform the violence into the ultimate reconciliation of humanity and divinity.  In longing to be conformed to Jesus’ death, we are asking for the grace to become the light that is stronger than darkness, the love that is stronger than hatred, the life that is stronger than death.  Let us persevere in our Lenten practices confident that the God of life will bring us to Easter joy.

Deacon Modesto Cordero

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Halfway into the Lenten season, we pause with the whole Church to rejoice on this “Rejoice Sunday.” This Sunday we use desert rose color vestments to symbolize that joy. All three readings this Sunday help us to see a sharp contrast between light and darkness. In the first reading, Samuel struggles as it were in darkness, trying to find a king, but can only succeed to find the young David when he begins to see as God sees. In the second reading, Paul reminds us that we were once darkness, but now because of our Baptism, we are light in the Lord. We are therefore challenged to be bearers of the light.

The story of the man born blind in the Gospel bears all the features of Lenten themes of conversion. It contrasts sharply the vision of the man born blind, who seeing Jesus with his eyes of faith, and the blindness of the Pharisees, whose eyes of their minds are closed towards Jesus. The Gospel reminds us that our Baptism enlightens us to see and embrace God’s vision, life, goodness, and truth. Our Baptism commits us to be bearers of the light and to confront the spiritual blindness of the world with the light of truth. The passage clearly contrasts light and darkness, faith and the stubborn refusal to accept the truth.

In the story, Jesus not only gives the blind man his sight, physical light, but he also gives him the light of faith. The story is about you and me in moments of our own spiritual blindness and darkness. In our selfishness; our inclinations for indulging in vices and pleasure; in our greed for material things, we become spiritually blind and lose our spiritual sight. Just as in the Gospel story, we must not allow dishonesty and the distortion of the truth to dim our light, because Christ is our Light and we are bearers of that light.

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Come to Christ, The Eternal Living Water.

Water is one of the most important requirements for the sustenance of life. The first reading of today tells us of the ordeal of the Israelites in the wilderness. They grumbled against Moses, and against God because they were thirsty. God instructed Moses to strike the rock. From it, water came forth. The Israelites drank and were satisfied. In today’s gospel, Jesus presents himself as both the rock of our salvation and our eternal living water, who desires to satisfy our deepest thirsts.

The story of the meeting of Jesus and the woman at the well started with a simple request from Jesus, “Give me a drink.” It was a hot day and he and the disciples had been walking in the hot sun for a long time. He surely needed water for his parched throat. But Jesus had a deeper thirst - his real thirst was for this woman’s faith and salvation. Like Jesus. the Samaritan woman was thirsty too. That's why she came to draw water from the well. But in reality, her thirst was more than water and Jesus could see that.

In their conversation, Jesus gradually uncovers this woman’s great thirst for truth –  a thirst that perhaps she had not noticed, burdened as she was with her sins and the daily hardships of life. Jesus promised her living water. At first, she believes that the living water of which Jesus speaks is material water that can quench physical thirst, which is what she’s primarily concerned with.

As their conversation progresses, Jesus reveals His identity more as He reveals to the Samaritan woman her sins. And here we begin to see a change. Notice that she no longer asks about water or worries about quenching her thirst. Now she asks about doctrine! This woman was also thirsty for God. Eventually, when Jesus reveals that He is the Messiah, the woman runs throughout the town proclaiming her faith in Him, heedless of the shame of her past sins.

The Samaritan woman represents all of us as we thirst for truth, as we thirst for God. But she also represents us in our sinfulness, showing us the obstacles to our conversion, for all of us, have past sins to repent of before we can come fully to Christ. Today’s Gospel reminds us of the spiritual thirst we all have for God, and that the living water that alone can satisfy this thirst is found only in Christ and in His Church, and that we must put all else aside to attain this living water. The good news is that Christ is also thirsty for our conversion. May we, like the Samaritan woman at the well, readily and humbly acknowledge our sins and nourish within ourselves a constant thirst for the living water of God’s grace and mercy that we find in the Sacraments!

Fr. Joseph Ayinpuusa

Be a ‘keyhole!’

On this Second Sunday of Lent, we are revisiting the story of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus.  The readings are calling us to be like Christ.  We too must become transfigured because it is from our own transformation that we will help to inspire others to think seriously about becoming Christians.  We are called to become an icon of Christ, an attractive ‘keyhole’ through which people will see the love of God. 

Today, we are challenged not to dwell on Jesus’ transfiguration, rather, to continue or perhaps to begin working on our own.  When we look at our own transfiguration we need to consider three things: first, the Transfiguration gives us perspective.  We are made in the image of God and no matter how rough, how unpolished, or how ordinary we maybe we, like Jesus, have divinity within us.  So, we are called to act like Jesus did so we can inspire others with our actions.  Second, our journey of faith involves struggle.  The way of the cross does involve suffering, and as we transform to be like Christ, we will experience some of that suffering.  We need to accept it and pray that our suffering here will earn us rewards later in heaven.  Lastly, the transfiguration of Christ keeps us centered.  St. Paul invites us to center on the goal but to also remember that to reach that goal involves some sacrifice from our side.  However, for us, the sacrifice ends at the Eucharistic table.  When we come to the Eucharistic table, we bring all of our sufferings and joys and in turn, we receive Christ transfigured. 

In this holy season of Lent, my prayer is that as we prepare to be fed by the Body and Blood of Christ we be open to listen and accept that it is only through our own transformation that we are going to be able to become ‘keyholes’ - true icons of Jesus.  God wants us to become the ‘keyhole’ through which others will see His glory.

Lenten blessings!

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

First Sunday of Advent

This Sunday’s gospel reading, we see Jesus alone in the desert being tempted by the devil. The devil presents a few interesting scenarios to Jesus, ones that test him and tempt him at the same time. And in each scenario Jesus is somehow able to resist and is able to stay focused on what he was born to do, stay faithful to his Father in all things. Jesus is not willing to give in to what many of us so often give in to, the need for power or prestige of glory or a chance to “show off”. Rather, Jesus came simply to serve and to save. 

We’re just beginning Lent, our own “forty days in the desert”. And during this holy time we will take a deep look within, examine the ways we have been faithful and the ways we have not, examine the ways we have stayed on the path and the ways we have strayed, examine the ways we have met the needs of others and the ways we have placed our own needs above those of others, examine the ways we have loved and the ways we have chosen to do something else. 

And Lent is the perfect time to take a long hard look at those very things, take a long hard honest look at our sins, no matter how difficult that may be, so that we can be better, we can be more, so that we can be the beautiful, loving, kind, generous people God wants us to be. 

That is what Lent is really all about.

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We often wonder why Jesus was so successful in his ministry. The readings of this Sunday give away the answer to that question. The words we use may lead others astray, or bring them closer to God. The first reading from the Book of Ecclesiasticus uses four concrete examples to illustrate how good or bad results from a sieve, a furnace, a kiln, and an orchard can be compared to how speech reveals a person’s inner defects, flaws, and quality of life. So just as the orchard is judged by the quality of its fruit, similarly a person’s words say more about his character.

In the Gospel, Jesus uses four short parables to illustrate the positive or negative role played by words and deeds in our witness as his followers. Jesus is very harsh on hypocrisy because it is fake and counter-witness. He underlines the importance of authentic leaders who are expected to give a good example to those put into their charge. In one example Jesus shows that it would be so easy for a blind guide to lead followers into spiritual disaster and ruin. The history of the Church has many examples of blind guides both civil and religious. The message is clear. "There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor gain a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. For every tree can be told by its own fruit". The two images of the blind guide and the rotten tree are related. Both images challenge us to let our words be matched by the uprightness of our deeds and character. We are called upon to speak and give witness to what we say. Elsewhere in the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that, “By their fruits, you shall know them.”

The message we take home may be summed up in three points.  1) The integrity of Jesus and his union with the Father in prayer was the secret of his success. 2) Only filled by his Spirit can we speak and act in a manner that truly witnesses to Christ. 3) Just as Jesus, the key to authentic witness is only found in faithfulness and union with God.  

Msgr. John S. Mbinda 

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

This Sunday we hear some of the most difficult teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ Today’s gospel continues the Great Sermon of Jesus from where we left off last Sunday. After speaking about the persecution and violence that will be visited on the disciples, as was done to the prophets of old, Jesus now speaks to the disciples about how they are to respond to the hostility. He begins: “But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you...” (6:27-29). The disciples lived in a society that hated them and treated them with hostility. What Jesus is asking them is that they should not return hatred for hatred or hostility for hostility.

By nature, we love only friends and dear ones. Loving enemies is not only something we do not do but something that we can hardly do. But Jesus today presents the Golden Rule and even raises it up to a higher level. Not only should we treat others as we would want to be treated, not only should we love those from whom we expect love in return, but also, we are called to love our enemies and lovingly treat people whom we know will not treat us in the same loving way.

The story of David (in the first reading) illustrates this point. Saul hated the much-admired David; he had become insanely jealous of him. He pursued him to get rid of him. When David had the opportunity to assassinate Saul who was asleep together with his soldiers, he refused to do so. Such was David’s, noble heart. Jesus, in today’s Gospel, makes another step forward: he will invite us to go beyond the same forgiveness. He will demand from his disciples not only to do no harm to the enemy but that they take the initiative to meet him to help him out of his condition. “Give to everyone who asks you; …do good to those who hate you…” (6:30).

Reflecting on these readings, I am conscious of the fact that Jesus raised the bar higher and higher for His disciples. The goal which Jesus places before us is to be like the loving, divine Father, who forgives, loves, and cares for us even while we are sinful. We are also called to be like the One who calls us to be His disciples.  We may find this too much to achieve. There is no way we can be as forgiving, as loving, and as caring as God. We will fail. The fact that we will not achieve such a high level of concern for others is not what is to be the focus of our attention. Our attention should be on the One Whom we are trying to imitate. The more we strive to keep our eyes on Jesus, our Master-Teacher and upon his Father, the more that Jesus can, and will fill in the gaps. 

 Fr. Joseph Ayinpuusa

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