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

"Though Jesus Christ was rich, for your sake he became poor so that by his poverty you might become rich."

Stewardship is at the heart of today’s readings.  In a nutshell, stewardship is about dealing with the gifts and blessings God has given us.  Although God has rights as the owner of our gifts, we as stewards are identified with responsibilities.  Like in the Gospel story, we are invited to deal with the gifts in a way that would attract the master’s reward rather than punishment.  Since God is the giver of all that we have and own, the responsibility of accounting for how we manage that which God has given us is therefore our own.

 

I find it providential that I am challenged to share on stewardship to a community whose core values of Christian and ordinary living are on stewardship at a time when I would be returning to Kumbo, Cameroon and, more so, where I would be expected to, simply put, render an account of my stewardship for the time I have been away. I am however grateful for the fact that it has been an enriching experience serving the people of St. John Apostle and Evangelist Church in Mililani. Maybe I should begin by evaluating how my stewardship has been serving amongst you for almost two months.

 

I will start by rendering immense thanks to Msgr. John Mbinda for inviting Fr. Eugen Nkardzedze, who you assisted in providing solar lighting to the people of Mfumte in Kumbo Diocese.  His visit gave me the opportunity to come and visit here.  I would also like to thank Jolly for the her role in coordinating my visit.  While here, I was accorded a warm welcome by   Msgr. John, Fr. Ramon, the Parish Staff, and all of you, faithful parishioners. 

 

On different occasions and times I was invited to see Hawaii, outside of the parish, and have lunch with friends.  I truly appreciate all the sacrifices that were made on my behalf while I was here.  I hope I was up to speed in rendering the services for which I came.  I felt flattered and truly humbled to hear positive comments, from a number of you, on my thought provoking homilies during Mass.  I will leave here having grown in my faith, enriched by your loving and beautiful culture of welcome, strengthened by your confraternity and brotherhood as a Knight of Columbus, enchanted by your overwhelming warmth, friendliness and availability; through the liturgy, those who directed and served at the Masses in various capacities, and above all your profound spirituality of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  Your various gifts are a strength and wealth to St. John and is the reason there is always someone visiting and worshiping with your congregation. 

 

My greatest joy is the growing love and friendship between St. John Mililani and the Diocese of Kumbo.  I take the opportunity to offer you an open invitation to visit Kumbo, Cameroon, Africa.  Some aspects of our work for the communities in Kumbo can be seen by visiting our website at www.caritaskumbo.org.

 

THANK YOU & MAHALO!

 

United in the Lord, Jesus Christ,

 

Fr. Daniel Ache

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus addresses all those listening with three parables: the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son.  In each of these parable stories, a lost item of great importance is found - with great joy.  The recovery of the item in each of these stories reflects the celebration of mercy that awaits us in reconciling with Jesus. 

 

At some point we all become lost - like the sheep, the coin, and the prodigal son.  We all experience moments in our lives when we find ourselves feeling far away from our heavenly father.  We don't always realize when we are lost.  Sometimes our distance from God is concealed by pride and greed.  Sometimes we feel numbness or pain.  Be humble and take solace because God is always pursuing you.

 

More importantly, we show our faith by imitating our Heavenly Father daily. Although we may find ourselves lost like a sheep separated from the flock, we must be a shepherd to those around us who need help, guidance and direction.  We must constantly assist each other in becoming more like Christ in good times and in difficult times.  We are in this journey together!

 

Blessings to All!  

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

Discipleship is Not Easy!

Jesus clearly forewarns us about the cost of journeying with him to Jerusalem: a priority relationship with him that demands total self-devotion.  Discipleship compels total self-renunciation, total commitment, and total identity with Jesus.  There is no easy road to discipleship.  However, we need to remember that we have in fact already begun this journey at baptism.  Luke uses the journey with Jesus to Jerusalem as an opportunity to teach us, his followers, about the demands of being a disciple.  To be a disciple of Jesus we must keep in mind three important factors.

 

Discipleship demands single-minded loyalty:  One thing we can say about Jesus in today’s Gospel is that he was not concerned about being politically correct.  He uses the kind of strong language that is not heard often in our day:  If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you must “hate” your family and “give up all your possessions.”  Now the meaning of the word “hate” during that time did not carry the same negative psychological implications for Jesus that it does for our contemporary culture.  In Jesus’ culture of honor and shame, to hate someone meant to regard them with less esteem, to prefer them less than someone else.  This is the way Jesus chooses to express the demands of discipleship.  It demands total and complete focus on the kingdom of God.  Absolute loyalty to Jesus and his mission is required of every disciple.  It even surpasses the loyalty demanded by one’s family.

 

Every disciple of Jesus must be prepared to endure sufferingTo make sense of the mystery of suffering we must connect our crosses to the cross of Christ. The image Jesus uses is to carry one’s cross.  For Jesus, however, the cross is not a metaphor; it is a concrete reality at the end of this lengthy journey to Jerusalem.  As the Master goes, so goes the disciple.  Being a follower of Jesus requires the willingness to suffer what he suffered.

 

Be prepared: One should not undertake a difficult challenge without being carefully prepared for all results in failure and humiliation.  Do not approach discipleship superficially.  Everything – including possessions – must take second place to the kingdom of God.  The cost of discipleship lies in the “total”: it is everything we have and what we are.  Following Jesus leads to death, to be sure, but to a death that grants us a share in God’s very life, an outcome worth any price.

 

Our challenge this weekend is to see our call as a call for us to put Jesus ahead of our own families and even our own lives.  It calls us to carry our cross and renounce all that we have.  Discipleship is total and unconditional.  The cost of discipleship?  Everything we have and who we are.  The reward of discipleship?  Everything God has and is.

 

Blessings,

 

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

Meals are very important in the Gospel of St. Luke and in the Acts of the Apostles.  This is not the first time we see Jesus at a meal which includes even his arch critics like the scribes and Pharisees (7, 36, 11, 37).  The meal in today’s gospel was in one of such settings.  It is in the house of one of the Pharisees, and of course an opportunity for guest to be invited.  Jesus is one of those invited to the meal.  In fact, meals were customary opportunities for communion.  Even at that, it was not uncommon to find grades and ranks among those invited.  This practice was in accordance with the social norm governing the classes in the society where some were considered more important than others and people went around with the idea and feeling of not only being important but laying claim to every opportunity that went along with it; like choosing sitting positions at table etc.

 

This exactly is what draws Jesus’ attention at the meal, the manner in which those who had been invited, come in, and proceeded with the choice of where to sit.  Of course based on customary practice a lot of guests were taking the higher places only; perhaps a reflection of their host or, better put, in despise of the lower class.  Jesus does not let the opportunity slip by.  He uses it to teach a lesson on humility on one hand and humiliation on the other.  In his lesson, the humble are rewarded while the proud are humiliated.  It is pride that often stands in our way, especially in having consideration for others.  It is pride that always pushes us to take up everything for ourselves and ourselves only.  It is pride that sometimes blinds us to the existence of others.  It is pride that closes our hearts especially to the needs of the poor.  In the book of Proverbs 11:2 “when pride comes, then comes disgrace” and in 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”.

 

In the lesson from today’s gospel, Jesus teaches and desires for every disciple of his, including us, to be humble. Humility is one virtue that opens our eyes to the existence of other persons. It is humility that helps us recognize and respect the presence of others. It is humility that makes us willing to offer the first or best places to others and makes us comfortable with the second place. It is humility that facilitates the love we ought to have for others. Only in this light can we exercise love and concern for the other.

 

In fact, it is in such humility opposed to honor that we are adequately prepared for the coming of God’s Kingdom. When in terms of biblical wisdom, we think less often of ourselves, more often of others and most often of God. Hymn…  Seek ye first the kingdom of God…

 

Amen

 

Fr. Daniel Ache

Narrow Gate: Outside or Inside!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the narrow gate.  It is the answer to the question: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”   Those who enter the narrow gate will enjoy the Father’s eternal banquet.  Those who do not have the determination and courage to live their faith will remain outside the Master’s House.  You get the sense that the people left outside are lukewarm Christians.  They did know the Master, ate and drank with him, and were witnesses to his teaching, but now they were outside.  They thought it was their right to receive all the benefits, but they were shut out.  They no longer had a relationship with the Master.  Are we inside with the Lord or outside?  That is the goal of our lives, “to be with Jesus, at all times and for all eternity.”

 

Why are we here?  The answer is far deeper than just “to go to Mass.”  We are here because we need to be with our loving Lord and be with Him always, not just one hour a week in a church, but throughout the week, wherever He can be found.

 

People often attempt to justify their faith life by speaking about their past relations with God, how they did ministry in the church or attended religious education classes.  Some people go through life thinking that their past is all that matters. It doesn’t occur to them that their present relationship with God is what really matters.  Our relationship with God is the source of our spiritual life.  If that relationship is no longer present, then the source of life is gone.  

 

Why would anyone, who once valued his or her relationship with God, push God aside or even out of his or her life?  The answer is the gate to heaven is narrow for many.  Evil is all around us.  It invites us to an immoral party.  It tells us that some of our friends we know are at that party.  It is so easy to join them.  It is so much harder to go in a different direction.  The different direction is the narrow gate.  It is easier to go through the wide gate, to go along with a crowd.  It is difficult to be one of the few that rejects the values of the crowd.  When we choose the wide gate over the narrow gate, we find ourselves diminishing the importance of our relationship with God.

 

The people in the second reading those addressed in the Letter to the Hebrews, acted as though the Christian faith was too difficult.  Our faith is not difficult.  It is our way to happiness.  We make sacrifices, like being faithful, truthful, giving and compassionate to others.

 

Today, we pray for the courage to stay inside the house with the Master. We pray for the courage to live our faith and enter through the narrow gate.

 

Blessings to All,

 

Deacon Wally Mitsui

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

In the gospel, we heard about Jesus who was speaking of his own mission.  Jesus said, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Lk. 12:49).  He also said, “A father will be divided against his son and a son is against father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Lk. 12:53).

 

In this gospel, the mission of Jesus is described in terms of fire.  The mission of Jesus is to tell the truth and bring all people to the truth of God and his kingdom.  Jesus used the symbolism of fire in order to give meaning to his mission.  The fire of love and the passion of proclaiming the good news were priorities of Jesus.  This must also be the priority of those who wish to follow him.  Fire is a symbol of strength, courage and power, it provokes warmness.  This is the same thing in the proclamation of the gospel and the message of the Kingdom.  The word of God must contaminate and provoke new life and changes in the believers.  To cling oneself to the teachings of Jesus oftentimes creates a division among members of a family, community and in the social strata. Yes, to follow Jesus and believe in his teachings radically would definitely result in division of those who refuse to believe in him and oppose his teachings.  The passion and determination to quench a fire of love for God and humanity must definitely provoke personal decision and radical action of the disciples of Jesus. 

 

On the other hand, peace, which is the result of good relationship, is often not experienced by those who refuse to accept the teachings of Jesus.  However, those who follow Jesus and do the will of the Father would surely experience peace even in sufferings.  Division is the consequence to those who oppose the will of the Father.  Luke exhorted his community to remain enthusiastic in the proclamation of the kingdom even if it meant division among family members and rejection by those who refuse to believe in Jesus.  To work for the kingdom and to radically follow Jesus needs a lot of inner conviction.  This is what Jesus wanted us to know.  We have to sacrifice our own interests and desires, our families and loved ones in order to follow Jesus.  Those who have decided to take up the mission of Jesus already have a fire of conviction to live and die for it. 

 

To do our Christian mission does not necessarily mean affirmation and acceptance from other people but also an experience of contradiction.  For example, a husband reprimands his wife who got involved in the activities of the church.  Sometimes we often criticize those who like to pray.  Those who wish to follow Christ in religious and priestly life often experienced contradiction from their own families and friends.  Today, we are challenged to really do our mission in steadfast faith.

 

The gospel is about the call to stand for Christ’s love and the values of the kingdom even if it results in division among family relations. We are the good stewards of the Gospel. Let us accept the challenges of our Christian life and resolve to be fully possessed by the word of God and by the Eucharist in order to remain loyal to our faith and love for God and for the kingdom.

 

A Blessed Sunday to All,

Fr. Ramon J. Francisco 

 

 

Nineteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time - Year C

The Second Reading describes faith as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”  Though not attempting a precise technical or theological definition, the author paints an inspiring portrait of religious faith, drawing upon the people and events of the Old Testament, and gives what the New American Bible considers “the most extensive description of faith provided in the New Testament.”

 

Faith enables Abraham to leave his ancestral home and journey to a land he knows nothing of, pitch a tent in a foreign place, believe that in spite of their old age he and wife Sarah will have “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore” (Heb11:12), and then later offer their only son Isaac in sacrifice upon God’s instructions---all because Abraham trusts in God and steadfastly believes in God’s promise. Through faith God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what God promises will eventually come to pass.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples to seek security not in the realities of this world but in the treasures of God’s Kingdom. He exhorts them to be steadfast in their faith, staying ready and prepared even when the fulfillment of that faith is long in coming. Jesus then gives an illustration in servants who are entrusted with the management of the household.  No one knows just when the master will return. A wise servant, therefore, will always be vigilant, since the master may return at any moment and expect to find everything in order.

 

The Gospel illustrates the importance of being ready and prepared for the many ways our God visits us in our lives. We are often beset with hardship, failure, pain, anguish, tragedy and disappointments; our dreams, hopes, and plans are frequently thwarted. How do we prepare for such unexpected circumstances? What are we to do in dark moments when God seems to be far away, and we search for some evidence of God’s presence?

 

Abraham’s example tells us to continue hoping in God’s love even though we cannot feel it and to keep on waiting in patient trust. Life on earth is a journey in faith and a pilgrimage of hope. For this journey we are given enough light to take the next step. As John Henry Cardinal Newman prayed, “Lead, kindly Light . . . Lead thou me on! Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene---one step is enough for me.”

 

Abraham believed because he “thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy” (Heb. 11:11). Because of God’s fidelity, we trust that the will of God will never lead us where the grace cannot keep us.

 

A Blessed Sunday to All,

Fr. Ramon J. Francisco

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time - Year C

Greed, vanity, and possession over what matters most help us to focus on the central point of the readings this Sunday.  The readings start with snapshots in the first reading from the Book of Ecclesiates: “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!”  Yes, ALL stuff is vanity, like the smoke or the mist that evaporates and disappears quickly.  We may labor, fret and sweat, but at the end of the day, for what?  That is the question behind the first reading.  Paul, in the second reading, reminds us why we must choose the values of the gospel.  "If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above… Think of what is above, not what is on earth."  In other words, Christ is the highest possession we can have.

 

The parable of the rich fool in the Gospel goes deeper into the question of what life is really about for us as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ. As Jesus is teaching, someone in the crowd asks Him to intervene in a family inheritance conflict, but Jesus goes to the real issue in the heart of that person – greed.  “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” The person must have been surprised by that response that hit home right on.

 

In a world, driven by consumerism, this is a hard lesson to learn because we are constantly prompted to buy and accumulate things that we probably do not need.  Family inheritance conflicts are on the increase, not to mention the issue of land grabbing by the rich and powerful. Through a very well thought out parable, Jesus leads us to discover that what really matters most is God not possessions. 

 

The story of the Rich Fool is addressed to all of us: elderly, adults, youth and children.  The point of the parable is clear. Possessions do not guarantee life.  Indeed, they may make us so blind that we do not see what really matters most in life.

 

So what message do we take home this Sunday?  1) In a consumer society that favors a culture of materialism and affluence, the gospel presents a different set of values that lead us to discover that life is much more than stuff.  2) All the values of this world are vanity, as compared to the values of the Gospel.  3) Paul in the second reading reminds us why we must choose the values of the gospel. "If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above....Think of what is above, not what is on earth."  In other words, Christ is the highest possession we can have.

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Pastor

Jesus Teaches Us to Persist in Prayer

The one prayer that Jesus specifically taught, the Our Father, contains many reasons for praying. Jesus asks us to address God as we would a loving parent and honor His name.

 

Jesus encourages us to pray for “the kingdom,” the vision he has of a just and loving society and world. He says it’s okay, too, to pray for our very human needs: for bread, food for nourishment to eat and share. Most especially, he suggests that we ask for forgiveness of our sins, and that we forgive others as God forgives us. 

 

This great prayer we can say together with others or when we are alone with God, but it reminds us that all prayers are simply about communication, the attempt to maintain an intimate relationship with God as we would a close friend or a loving parent. Friendship and parenthood are, in fact, the parable Jesus uses to explain prayer in the gospel story this Sunday. He tells us, keep asking; keep searching; keep knocking.  God will hear our prayers and will respond, often in totally unexpected ways. 

 

To pray that God’s name be hallowed (holy) and that His kingdom come is to acknowledge that all barriers to love must be dissolved. Anything that separates ethnicities, rich from poor, gender from gender, age group from age group, Christians from non- Christians is a barrier to the holiness, God wishes to share with believers. Biases have no place in the community that names God our father. Jesus also calls us to persevere in prayer.  God is more gracious than a friend who reluctantly gets up in the night to help us, however, God’s graciousness does not guarantee that we get what we think we want. We may not receive what we ask for; we may instead either discover more than what we were looking for or be surprised at what’s behind the door we are knocking on. God gives us what we need, a mystery that we see best in past events.

 

Jesus calls us in today's gospel to long-range perseverance in prayer that enters into the mystery of faith.

 

Blessings to All,

Dcn. Romeo Ganibe

 

 

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - YEAR C

The readings of this Sunday focus our attention on the Christian values of “Welcome” and “Hospitality” that pave the way for the presence of Christ in our lives and our homes.  It is in this context that Paul, in the second reading, speaks about “a mystery that has been hidden for ages” that has now been revealed to God’s Holy Ones.  When the Church uses the term mystery, it goes much deeper than the secular meaning of mystery.  For the Church, a mystery is a truth that is incomprehensible by reason and knowledge.  The early Church referred the sacraments as “mysteries”.

 

When adults are about to come into the faith they are anointed with the Oil of Catechumens so they may have the strength and the grace to be open to learn the Mystery of Faith, namely the events of the action of Jesus Christ in the world.  At the most solemn moment in the Mass, after the Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, we are called upon to proclaim the Mystery of Faith, and so we respond by proclaiming Christ’s death, resurrection and that He will come again.  Paul, therefore, reminds the Colossians and us that we have received the Mystery that Christ is in us.  Christ is the reason for our being, our doing and our final destiny.

 

The Gospel reminds us that mystery of Christ’s presence in the lives of two women.  Martha is busy doing things for Christ, while Mary, her sister, is concerned with being with Jesus.  Instead of focusing on Jesus out there somewhere, we need to focus on Jesus present right here, in our lives, in our families in others, in the Church, and in the world.  Just as God enters into the presence of Abraham, who welcomes the three mysterious strangers in the first reading, so too Christ enters into the presence of Martha and Mary who joyfully welcome Jesus in their home.

 

The story of Martha and Mary underlines two aspects of Christian life. On the one hand, we have a dimension of “being with the Lord” like Mary.  Being quietly present with Christ gives us the space to pause, read, understand and commit ourselves to the implementation of our “Road Map”.  Thus, we listen to the Lord for guidance to regain our sense of direction. On the other hand, we need to “do things” for the Lord like Martha.  However, we can be so active that we forget prayer or neglect “being with the Lord”.  Therefore, we need to balance both ways.  The fruit of being intimate with Jesus, “being with Christ”, is being active and participating in every aspect of life in our family and particularly here in our own community, here in our Church. The Church we love.

 

Have a blessed Sunday,

 

Fr. Ramon Francisco