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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

 

 

Jesus Invites and Challenges Us True Christians...

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

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

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

 

Fr. Norlito Concepcion 

 

Who Doesn't Want to be Blessed?

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

 

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

 

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

 

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

 

 

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.

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

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

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

 

 

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

Msgr. John Mbinda

 

Celebrating the Epiphany of the Lord

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

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

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

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

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

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

 

Mary, Mother of God

MARY KEPT ALL THESE THINGS, REFLECTING ON THEM IN HER HEART. Mary must remember fondly the cold journey on a donkey, the reassuring faith of Joseph, the first cry and laughter of her baby, the smell of hay in the manger, and the inspired visits. All these will live forever in her heart and sustain her through the trials she will face.

The first day of the year is a good time to keep all the good things in our hearts, like Mary --- how we quietly survived the past year, faithful friends who kept watch, and the simple blessings we received.  Everything has a meaning and a purpose, even in trying and difficult experiences, if we just quietly wait, reflect and pray over them in our hearts.

Let us pause with Mary and take stock of what we have been blessed with, to serve as well as from where we can draw water in moments of dryness. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us and with us. Amen.

Happy New Year!  

Fr. Ramon Francisco

 

Christmas Gospel Reflection

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord". (Lk. 2:11)

More than two thousand years ago, while silence covered the little town of Bethlehem, something extraordinary happened.  A child was born of the Virgin Mary.  That is why at Christmas we joyfully celebrate the Good News announced by the Angel that night: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord".  We join Christians around the world in celebrating this joyful event of Christ in our midst, the Son of God, who assumes our human flesh, born of the Virgin Mary.  When we receive a precious gift, we rejoice because it is a sign that someone loves us.  God’s gift of himself to us in the Incarnation, is therefore clear evidence of His tremendous love and goodness to us.  During the last 4 weeks of Advent, we have prepared ourselves for Christmas, the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in the first reading of the midnight Mass.  "For there is a child born for us, a son is given to us".  That is why at Christmas we rejoice because the salvation promised us is now fulfilled; our Savior is born; a Savior who brings light into the world. "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone".

The readings lead us into great joy and gratitude before the mystery of the child who is born from Mary.  On that first Christmas in Bethlehem, a great light was shone in the darkness.  Christ our Savior was born of Mary and laid in a manger, "because there was no room for them in the inn".  The birth of Christ takes place in poor surroundings in order to attract the attention of the shepherds. Through Christ, God's grace is revealed to the poor who open their hearts to welcome Christ.  Like the shepherds, let us open our hearts so that Christ may come to us with his blessings of peace and joy this Christmas.  Like the shepherds, who went with haste and shared the good news, we are called to go with haste and share the good news of great joy.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Fr. John Mbinda

 

 

Blessed Christmas

As we near the end of this advent season, we remember the baby Jesus and His mother Mary, but now let us give a little more attention to his earthly father Joseph.  We remember Joseph’s courage and obedience in responding to the angel of the Lord in his dream to take the pregnant Mary into his home as his wife.

If we ourselves experienced an angel in our dreams, commanding us to do something life changing, how might we respond?  The story reveals Joseph to be a man of faith and trust in God despite the unsettling situation. Joseph does as the angel of the Lord directs, taking Mary to be his wife and accepting the child in her womb as his own. Both Mary and Joseph become the very models of faithful servants of God.

Now, what can we learn from Joseph’s actions?  Think of the times in your life when you have felt God calling you to do something important. For example, you sensed God’s hand working in your life when volunteering to feed the homeless, visiting the home bound, being a Catechist to the children, or providing gifts to the church’s Christmas Angel Tree. God sends you a message, working in your life, just as he did to Joseph.

Take the time now and reflect on your life and listen to when and where God calls to you.  Act in faith even when the meaning is unclear.

Have a BlessedChristmasand say a prayer thanking St. Joseph for showing us how to respond to calls from God.

Merry Christmas and Peace to all

 

 Deacon Romeo Ganibe

3rd Sunday of Advent

The Gospel this Sunday starts with John the Baptist in prison. John sends his disciples to ask Jesus whether he is really the Messiah or would there be another to come. Jesus refers to what Isaiah had prophesied in today’s First Reading, and says that there is no need to keep waiting for salvation. It is already in our midst. There are already clear signs of joy, hope and new life. Jesus tells the messengers: "Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, the lame walk, and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor". That is why we need not wait. That is why we need to rejoice and not just be happy.

The deeper question we need to ask on this Sunday is what constitutes real joy in our lives?  I am a lover of high tech and cool gadgets, once I have them, I enjoy using them, but at the end of the day, they do not give me real joy.   The happiness and excitement that many had in having the latest cool gadgets on Black Friday is already over.  In other words, material possessions, no matter how cool, never give lasting satisfaction and joy.  This Sunday, the readings help us see what Christ is already accomplishing in our midst, through the Church and through our own witness that makes the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk! Miracles do happen in our parish: just open your eyes and ears!

The message we take home is threefold. 1) The gospel draws our attention to the Messiah who is already in our midst. There are many signs of hope: the saving action of Christ is present in our parish. 2) The readings lead us to rejoice as we encounter the hidden “miracles” of today. Yes, “the blind see, the lame walk, and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor.” 3) Let us pray that the Lord may open our eyes and ears of faith to see and hear what Jesus is already doing in our midst; that we may go and tell others what we have seen and heard.

Fr. John Mbinda

Sunday Gospel Reflection - 2nd Sunday of Advent - A

 

 

This Advent we are called to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord.  This requires both acknowledgement of our sins and true repentance – a change of heart.  Unlike the Pharisees and Sadducees in the gospel reading, we need to sincerely approach our loving God with a true acknowledgement of our sinfulness, as well as a deep desire and firm purpose to sin no more.  Sincerity is what it’s all about.  With sincere preparation, we will be able to approach the coming of the Lord both at the end of time and at Christmas with hearts ready for his gifts.

 

In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah anticipates a better future for his people.  He speaks about the coming of a king filled with the spirit of the Lord who will bring benefits to the people that they had never known from previous rulers.   Paul, in his letter to the Romans, invites us to become as welcoming as the Lord Jesus Christ, who welcomes all to the kingdom of God.  

Matthew understood John the Baptist to be that voice in the wilderness proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah.  His mission is to prepare for the advent of the Lord. John the Baptist knew that sincere repentance was necessary for the kingdom of God to become a reality.  He may have shared Isaiah’s dream of a time when a just judge would rule a just people.  But that time had not yet come, and he knew he needed to do his part to prepare for it – as we do.     

During this Advent, when we prepare ourselves for the coming of Our Lord, what should our response be?  There can be two responses on our part: First, we need once more to hear the challenging call of John the Baptist to baptism of repentance and forgiveness, and second connect ourselves to the ocean of God's mercy.  

Happy Advent!  Dcn. Modesto Cordero 

 

 

First Sunday in Advent - Year A

As we begin the season of Advent, the Church invites us to Wake Up to something wonderful, to Good News!  In the First Reading from Isaiah, we hear of his vision and promise of hope.  Yahweh shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and nation shall not lift swords against nation.  It presents an invitation for enemies to become friends and for weapons of destruction to become tools useful for gardening and farming.  It is in this light and vision that God calls us to walk.

In the second reading, St. Paul tells the community of believers in Rome to Wake Up.  Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first became believers.  This is another invitation to get moving. 

The words of Isaiah and Paul remind us that the best way for us to prepare to remember the celebration of God’s coming among us in Jesus is through our conversion of hearts.  The readings today call us to ask ourselves:  What keeps us from furthering God’s dream presented to us through Isaiah?  What is the darkness in us that needs to be put aside and replaced with armor of light?

The Scripture Readings in the next four weeks will help us prepare for the coming of the Lord through the figures of Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary.  In today’s gospel, we are reminded to Stay Awake, for you do not know on what day our Lord is coming.  Advent is a time to Wake Up to God’s love. God wants us to love one another as God loves us, unconditionally.  It is a time, especially, to renew our hearts in and through love.  May Isaiah’s prayer guide our journey through Advent, “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

Blessings, Deacon Wally Mitsui

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate Christ’s kingship.  The notion of “king” can call to mind images of power, wealth and self-serving rule, but here we have a King who has no power and wealth; his throne is a cross and his rule is suffering and death. 

Would we be like the thief crucified with Jesus who wishes Jesus to abuse his power to save himself and them?  Or would we be like the thief who recognizes his own sinfulness and Jesus’ goodness?  Jesus demonstrates his kingship not by saving himself but by saving others.  The reign of God is not in power but in mercy.

The cross is where we least expect a king to be. Yet this is how God’s kingdom is established and where our discipleship begins. Jesus demonstrates his kingship not by power but by loving reassurance that Paradise awaits us all as faithful disciples.

May we strive to live in such a way that we hear Jesus say,

“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

Blessings,

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

November 12/13 Reflection

“There will not be left a stone upon another stone.” Jesus foretells here the destruction of the Temple. It will be total; everything will be thrown down, no stone left on another stone. This is because Jerusalem has not recognized the time of its visitation (Lk. 19:44) and has not welcomed its Messiah.

 

Our actions have consequences. Our fidelity to the Lord invites his favors. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things (food, drink, clothing) will be given you besides” (Mt. 6:33). Lack of fidelity to the Lord results in misery for those who are unfaithful, as the Jewish people learned from experience time and again.

 

Even the disciples, though, are warned by Christ that they, too, will suffer--- not from unfaithfulness.  Persecution is an opportunity to show our faith, and we must not worry about what we will say, because the Father will give us wisdom and his Spirit.  The Lord equivalently tells his disciples: “Do not be afraid! Persevere! That is the way you will survive.”

 

Today, the Church suffers again because of the sins of her leaders and members. We must repent and reform. We suffer also because of persecution. We must not be afraid and must remain steadfast, giving testimony to Christ.

Fr. Ramon Francisco

 

 

It's Time to Renew Our Commitment to God and the Gospel!

The good news of this weekend’s Gospel is that Jesus wants to be with us: “I must stay at your house today.”  The message of Zacchaeus’ story is an invitation for us to celebrate God’s love, experience His mercy, and renew our commitment to Christ by responding to His invitation by making ourselves available to God.  We need to empty ourselves to make room for His grace and open our hearts to let Him in.

 

After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus chose to put his life in right order.  He offered half of his possessions to the poor and promised to repay those he wronged, four times over.  His response to God’s invitation, like a good steward, and his actions are proof that “faith without works is dead”. 

 

A good steward has a faith that is very much alive.  Stewardship is using our gifts for God’s purposes instead of only our own.  It’s something we never “complete”, it is a process and God is always calling us forward.  In the end, being a good steward is part of being a good disciple of Jesus.  If it is true that following Jesus is sometimes difficult, it is also true that stewardship can be hard, too.  However, with faith in the Holy Spirit we know that God will strengthen  us for us to use our gifts and resources for the sake of the Gospel and to build up the Church.

 

Our parish has embraced stewardship as a way of life since 2014.  Stewardship begins with an “attitude of gratitude.”  When we’re thankful for the gifts in our lives, we’re much more likely to want to share them with others.  Stewardship is “living by giving”.  It’s a lifestyle of generosity.  In preparation for our annual Stewardship Commitment Renewal, today we will hear from one of our parishioners who will share his own life experience of stewardship, as a way of life, and his personal response to God’s call.  His story is proof of what St. Paul said in today’s second reading, “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

 

This weekend we are invited to make our encounter with Jesus ‘priority one’ again.  We are called to renew our commitment to the God who shows mercy to all and willingly overlooks our sins!

 

Peace!

 

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

Open Our Hearts to All Humility

In the Gospel reading, Jesus confronts us with the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.  The parable is like a mirror that enables us to see clearly who we are as disciples.  The central message of the parable is that God listens and favors those who humble themselves, and rejects the hypocrites; those who refuse to face the truth about their need for God’s mercy.  In the parable, Jesus urges us to imitate the attitude of the tax collector, who is humble enough to accept his sinfulness, and asks for God’s forgiveness.  The tax collector is repentant.  That’s why he was at the back of the temple.  He had made the big step to enter the temple door.  He didn’t feel that it was right for him to come any closer because of his unworthiness.  The tax collector and God had things to work out.  He needed God’s mercy; God’s forgiveness.  For that reason, he is favored by God and leaves more justified; more transformed than the Pharisee.

 

So what message do we take home this Sunday?  1) The readings draw our attention to the need for humility.  2) Jesus, in the parable, invites us to open our hearts in all humility and dispose our hearts to share God’s gifts of time, talent and treasure for God’s work.  3) Only in humility will God’s mercy transform us like the tax collector who goes home in communion with God.

 

By: Msgr. John Mbinda

Persistence

For the past two weeks, the Gospel has spoken about the importance of Faith, Trust, and Patience.  The theme this week is Persistence.

 

Be persistent in prayer and “pray always.”  God hears our persistent pleas when we remain faithful, particularly in our times of need.  We don't have to be on our knees 24/7; rather it means that we should have the spirit of prayer, acknowledging our dependence upon God for all things, in everything we do.  While battling the enemy, as long as Moses kept his staff raised to God, Israel had the advantage.  Even as he got tired, he found a way to keep his arms up.  Moses’ persistence led to victory. 

 

Constant prayer is not easy nor is it convenient, but we must find the courage within ourselves to make our whole lives a constant prayer to our lord, Jesus Christ.  The Scripture reminds us to be faithful to what we have learned and believe because Scripture too has been given by God.  The lessons inspired by God show us how to live a faithful and prayerful life.

 

I leave you with a short reflection and a challenge for this week: Make your life (work, school, play, etc) a constant prayer of thanksgiving to God.

 

Blessings to all!

 

Dcn. Romeo Ganibe

Where are the Other 9?

The story of the Gospel is not only about showing gratitude for favors received. What pains Jesus is not so much that none of his countrymen, but only the Samaritan, a foreigner, returned to give thanks to him.  Jesus is pained by the fact that the foreign Samaritan not only came back to give thanks to him, but gave thanks to God as well.  This is what Jesus wants: that his Father be thanked and glorified.

 

Should this not be our motivation for doing good to others--- that they may give thanks to God and glorify him? We have no hard statistics on this, but it is safe to say that there are more prayers of petition to God than prayers of thanksgiving.  When people pray to saints, like St. Jude Thaddeus, they are faithful to their devotions while they need the Saints’ intercession. Do they return and give thanks to God when their prayers are answered?

 

Gratitude is a source of joy not only to the person thanked, but to the person who gives thanks.  Have you ever seen a person frowning as he gives thanks to another?  The words “THANK YOU!” are always said with a smile.  If you want to be a happy person, cultivate the habit of giving thanks to God and to people for every favor you receive.  When you remember that everything is grace, you will always be thankful to God, and will always have a smiling heart.

 

Be thankful and happy!

 

 

Fr. Ramon

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

The readings this Sunday underline the transforming power of faith when put into action. In the first reading, Habakkuk’s society was not all that much different from ours, where violence and power are glorified and the vulnerable are destroyed or kept in their place.

 

Since 1972, the first Sunday of October has been designated by the Church as Respect Life Sunday. We are all challenged today by the secular context that denies the sanctity of human life while promoting a culture of death. Today we also join the prophet Habakkuk in asking God to intervene. We need to have strong faith because God eventually intervenes. Habakkuk is told not to despair. God will ultimately transform evil into good. "The vision has its time; it will happen."

 

In the second reading, Paul reminds Timothy of the gift from God that he received, exhorts him not be ashamed of his testimony to our Lord. The Gospel reading starts with a genuine prayer of the apostles - Lord "increase our faith". The apostles realized that faith was a gift from God, for no one can earn or buy it.

 

Without directly responding to the request of the apostles, Jesus used the image of uprooting a tree through the incredible power of faith.  The tree is an image of the status quo of violence and destruction of human life.  With the smallest amount of faith – the size of a mustard seed - one can uproot a large tree like the mulberry tree (with long roots). Jesus exaggerates to make the point that genuine faith has a transforming power for us and for the world. If we are faithfully united to Christ, we can be transformed into more effective instruments of the Lord in transforming the culture of death into a culture of life. As faithful disciples, we are challenged to make our choice: to serve Jesus Christ or to remain indifferent.

The message may be summed up in a few points. 1) The readings underline the transforming power of faith when put into action;  2) We must not despair. God will ultimately 'transform evil into good. 3) The readings challenge us to give witness in a secular culture of death and destruction of human life by promoting a culture of life; by being lovers of life ourselves.

 

This may mean marching together to the State Capital to express our conviction against legalization of abortion; it may mean sticking out our heads on the firing line for our faith or risking the possibility of persecution and even death.

 

 

Msgr. John Mbinda

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - C

“Woe to the complacent!  Woe to the over confident!  And to those stretched out in comfort, music in the background, and a gourmet meal on the table.”

 

What’s wrong with this picture?  Amos was disturbed by it, not because of itself but because of the context.  He couldn’t understand how some people could spend lavishly on extras whiles other around them were unable to provide the minimum for themselves and their families. 

 

The story from Luke echoes the complaints of Amos against the self-satisfied.  The rich person is described as dressed in the best.  The reference to the color purple emphasized the man’s ability to purchase the same fabrics that the royals’ used.  We are given these details to underline the degree of wealth.  The other detail we’re given is that money is no object when it comes to food.  He can eat what he likes and eat anytime.

In contrast to the rich man the other character is very poor.  Not only is he poor but he is sick as well.  He sat at the gate of the rich man hoping that such a spot would put him in a handy position to receive scraps.   He got more compassion from passing dogs.  Eventually he died.  So did the rich man.

 

The next scene takes place in the abode of the dead.  The roles are now reversed.  The rich man inhabits the darkness while the poor man dwells in light.  The rich man calls out for help.  He is refused because the gulf between them is too difficult to cross.  There had been a huge gulf between them in life but that gulf could have been bridged if the rich man had wanted it.  His new state was the result of his own choices.

 

The rich man now realizes that his family is in for the same fate and in a burst of compassion asks if they can be shown the error of their ways.  He is told that they have all the spiritual help that they need, although, as Abraham points out, it would take a miracle to change their selfish ways.

 

This story, like so many Gospel stories, is told to wake us up. It would be easy to say, “I’m not like the rich man” and think that the story has nothing to say to me,  but each day we have opportunities to make choices. The hard thing is that there is no easy list to follow; we have to work it out according to our talents and means. We have to be able to name who are the poor at our gate.  Our concern is for all creation and for all people.  God is not against enjoyment.  As Amos says, “It’s injustice that makes God roar.”  We need to remember that shared food is the major symbol of our faith.  Our coming to the table is a reminder not only of the gift of Jesus, his life and ministry but also his words, “As I did, so you do, in my memory.”

 

Blessings!

 

Deacon Wally Mitsui