"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

Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time - Year C

The parable of the Good Samaritan is only found in Luke's Gospel. It is perhaps one of the best known stories that Jesus used and has over the centuries captured the imagination of many artists who have put the parable into drama, song, paintings and sculpture. The central message of the parable is found in what Jesus said before and after the story: “Do this and life is yours”, and “Go and do the same”. The lawyer was expecting a learned intellectual response from Jesus on “who is my neighbor?” Instead, Jesus told a surprising story of a foreigner becoming a hero, while Jewish religious leaders are the bad guys!

 

The story of the Good Samaritan is told in the context of God's command for love of neighbor, which was a sacred responsibility (Leviticus 19:18). In telling this story, Jesus shows that true love of neighbor must be put into action. It is not a mere intellectual concept or feeling. Jesus cleverly dramatizes the story knowing his audience. The story is meant to get the lawyer to ask the real question, “how do I become neighbor to others?”, rather than “who is my neighbor?” The point that Jesus makes is that we do not choose neighbors. Rather, Christians respond to peoples' needs irrespective of their color, creed or origin, and by so doing they become neighbors to them. Nor can we rationalize a situation when someone is in need. Here is a concrete situation that may pose a dilemma. A beggar comes towards you, and asks for alms. You immediately smell his alcohol. What the law of love of neighbor requires in this case is that go ahead and give alms. Jesus would not judge such a person. Neither should we.

 

Fr. John S. Mbinda

 

Pastor

Rejoice in the Peace of the Lord!

In this weekend’s readings, Christ calls us to be disciples, missionaries in our world, but we cannot share our Christian faith on our own.  It is too difficult.  It is too hard.  This is the reason why we need to be together as a parish.  We need each other because it is not easy to: respond with forgiveness when we have received hurt and injury, to keep persevering in the midst of so much uncertainty and turmoil, and to keep being a source of hope when surrounded by the limitations of being human.  There is no need to sound negative or pessimistic.  However, we need to realize that obviously there is a cost attached to all of these, because the call to become a disciple of Jesus is revolutionary and requires the support of every single one of us.  We are part of a team!

 

As a team we need to rejoice in the peace of the Lord!  The word “peace” is mentioned in all three readings this weekend.  Isaiah prophesied that God’s kingdom would be restored after the Babylonian exile as a land of comfort, abundance, and prosperity where the people would rejoice.  He speaks of God sending “flowing peace, like a river.”  Paul, in the second reading speaks of peace and mercy that comes to all who become that transformed person in Jesus Christ.  And in the Gospel, through the ministry of Jesus and his disciples we are reminded that the “kingdom of God is at hand” - where peace, healing and rejoicing are brought to a new fullness in Jesus’ name.

 

The Gospel is a missionary text and it tells us of the missionary work of the disciples.  We hear about the sending out of the 72 disciples.  This is unique.  All the Gospels mention the 12 apostles and their being commissioned by Jesus to continue his mission.  However, only Luke refers to the sending out of the 72.  There must be a reason for this.  Jesus says that the harvest is big and there are not enough people to do the necessary work.  Jesus sends his disciples like lambs into the midst of wolves.  When Jesus sends the disciples forth as “laborers for his harvest,” he predicts two responses to their presence: either disciples will be welcomed and will be able to minister fruitfully, or they will be rejected and their ministry becomes judgment against the unwelcoming town.  In either case, however, the “kingdom of God is at hand.”  How so?  Whether accepted or rejected, disciples “harvest” the “kingdom of God” by their very presence, by their very proclamation of Jesus’ name, by their very fidelity to Jesus’ mission.  No wonder disciples rejoice!

 

Luke wants to tell us that the mission of Jesus is not only carried forward by the so called experts, like priests, deacons and religious, but it is the responsibility of every believer in Jesus.  It is our responsibility by virtue of our Baptism.  We are the laborer-disciples who must shake off the dust of the temptation to quit when facing difficulties or opposition, the dust of discouragement when there seemingly is no fruit for our efforts, the dust of indifference or ignorance. However, what keeps us present and faithful is a growing awareness that we do not labor alone or in vain. Whether facing rejection or receiving acceptance, our labor for the “kingdom of God” is guaranteed success, for the guarantor is Jesus. The harvest will always be great. So like the disciples we do need to rejoice, too!


Have a Happy & Peaceful Harvest,

Dcn. Modesto Cordero 

 

 

Thirteenth Sunday in the Ordinary Time - Year C

My initial response to the reading this Sunday is with two challenging questions. What did it mean for me to respond to God’s call to become a priest?  What does it still mean to me to continue saying yes to Jesus Christ as his faithful steward? My response to go to the seminary meant leaving home for the unknown. I had no idea what I was getting into, or where I was going. I soon discovered that my response meant letting go and detaching myself from the comfort of home and friends to be free to serve the Lord.

 

The first reading is about the call of Elisha by Elijah. It dramatizes the implications of responding to God’s call. Elisha does the unthinkable. What he does is madness in the eyes of the world, but a wonderful metaphor for total detachment. He slaughters the very oxen used for plowing! If you can imagine in today’s world a young man destroying all the farm machines and tools before going to the seminary that is what Elisha does by destroying the source of family livelihood.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus challenges our temptation to give excuses when God calls us. It challenges our temptation of telling Jesus, “let me finish up a few things first, and I’ll follow you later when I have less responsibility”. Jesus invites us like the captain in the story to burn our sail boats; to let go everything so we may be free to follow him. Since the Proclamation of the Kingdom comes first, Jesus wants us to follow him now, not tomorrow or later. Christ’s call radically implies some painful hard choices and a price to pay. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mk. 10:34).  Our response to God’s call implies losing one's life, even by death, for the sake of Christ.  The readings therefore lead us to focus on what it means to follow Christ.

 

The message of this Sunday is threefold. 1) Our response has to be like that of Elisha who literally gives up his entire livelihood thereby being free to follow God’s call.  2) Christian stewardship requires detachment and lots of self-sacrifice including risking one's life, one's self-image, being rejected, ridiculed and despised.  3) The bottom line is: What are you and I prepared to let go in order to be free to follow Christ?

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

 

Pastor

Follow Me

We follow all sorts of people and organizations on social media: friends, celebrities, a favorite author, athlete, charity, political candidate, or business.  We have the option to receive additional postings or emails and decide to read every post that comes through on our news feed.  We might respond, or not.  When we do, our response is often as simple as hitting the“like” button.

 

Following Jesus is a very different sort of thing.  First of all, following Jesus is a relationship.  When Jesus asks us to follow Him, we know there will be an impact in our lives. Like any friendship, if our relationship with Jesus is to grow, we have to spend time and pay attention to Him.  Maybe taking a few moments at the beginning or end of each day for prayer; being more attentive during Mass; pausing in the midst of our activities to notice the beauty of creation, the blessing of family and friends, the gift of kindness and patience shared among co-workers.  The best of friends also influence each other for the better.  Growing in relationship with Jesus will change us, leading us to put the needs of others before our own.  We learn to be mindful of those in need of God’s love through our actions, service, sharing, forgiveness, mercy and compassion.  “Following Jesus is the work of a lifetime. At every step forward, one is challenged to go further in accepting and loving God’s will.  Being a disciple is not just something else to do, alongside many other things suitable for Christians; it is a total way of life and requires continuing conversion.”

 

The way of following is the way of self-giving, of abandonment, of service, of availability, of accepting conflict, knowing that there will be resurrection.

 

The cross is not an incidental event, but rather part of this way, because in a world organized on selfish principles, love and service can only exist as crucified!  Anyone who makes his or her life a service to others, involves suffering.

 

Are you ready to follow?  “Jesus’ call is urgent… There can be no delay.”

 

Blessings to All,

Dcn. Romeo Ganibe

Eleventh Sunday of the Ordinary Time - Year C

Today’s gospel depicts two very different ways of relating to Jesus. Simon the Pharisee related to Jesus as a onetime visitor, maintaining only a surface relationship having no power to transform him.  He kept Jesus at a safe distance for him.  His response of indignation indicated how distant he really was from a life-changing relationship with Jesus.  The “sinful woman,” on the contrary, openly admits her sinfulness by her actions when she encountered Jesus.  She relates to him in an intimate way, affirming the underlying relationship that transformed her.  Jesus was indeed a prophet, for he was able to see into this woman’s heart and forgive her. He also looked into the heart of the Pharisee, saw in him a lack of love and how distant he was, without the desire to change.

 

The woman came to express and manifest her gratitude for having been forgiven. She did this through the gestures that her affection and womanly sensibility suggested. From the moment she had experienced forgiveness, she had begun her new life founded on love, for she loved much. Since she had met Jesus, all changed in her: his word worked the miracle. Jesus revealed the depth of her transformation when he said: “Your faith has saved you.” What is our relationship with Jesus now? What does he say to you?

 

Both Jesus and Simon the Pharisee saw the sinful woman. Jesus was the first one to have looked at her without lust and had raised in her the wish to stop being a pleasure toy for others and had given her hope to become a person in her own right. She realized that God was close to her, offering his peace, and that he had forgiven her. The Pharisee neglected to see Jesus’ need for hospitality and the sinful woman’s need for forgiveness and salvation. It is so easy to miss seeing the needs of others! Part of that seeing is to forget self so that we can truly encounter the other. If we are wrapped up in our own needs, it is impossible to see the needs of others. One way to live this gospel is to practice every day reaching out to another with a simple gesture of kindness or hospitality. This can be as simple as saying hello to someone we pass in a pathway, smiling at someone who seems depressed, or lending a helping hand to someone who seems burdened.

 

The story of David offers us some crucial lessons. First, we should be alert that temptation is all around, and we can easily succumb to it. Second, it tells us how, once we have fallen, we can go to great lengths to cover up sin. But that strategy often leads to more and more sin. Once one acknowledges sin like David, God is merciful to everyone who comes to him! So whether your sin is large or small, never be afraid to confess it for God’s merciful love is limitless. The “sinful woman’s” tears were triggered by her great sense of unworthiness and her profound repentance. Through her tears she expresses deep sorrow for sin and at the same time expresses her gratitude of being forgiven by anointing the feet of Jesus. Her gestures of touching him were ones of connectedness, of closing the distance between alienation and communion, of desiring a new relationship with someone who cares and heals. Let us expose ourselves to Jesus’ healing touch, and transforming, saving Presence.

 

 

Fr. Boniface Waema

Life and Hope

This weekend we return to "Ordinary Time" readings.  Now, we use the word "ordinary" not in the sense of "usual" or "common," but ordered or sequential.  The readings bring us to the theme about the gifts of life and hope.  These are gifts that are only God’s to give.  Life is both fragile and precious. It is a gift from God that we sometimes take all too much for granted. As Christians, we are constantly reminded that death is not an end, but a sign of God’s power and saving grace. Life and death are great mysteries. We know we are born to die. We accept the life and hope Jesus offers us when we in turn give it to others.  Like Jesus, our compassion spills over without our ever being asked to be compassionate. Like Jesus, we die to self for the good of the other.

 

In the first reading, we heard the event of how Elijah revived the son of a widow back to life.  The child is raised to live through Elijah’s prayer to God.  This miracle demonstrates the power of God in his prophet; the power to restore life physically and spiritually, especially when all hope seemed to have been lost. 

 

In the second reading, Paul recounts his own conversion.  He was dead because his activities as Saul were prompted by his human nature, whereas Paul became fully alive through the grace and love of Jesus.  Like Paul, it is through the grace of Jesus that we are restored and live again.  Therefore, our life is only but a grace granted unto us.  It is granted unto us for a purpose.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus himself revived the widow’s son back to life. It is an unwritten “rule” that parents should die before their children. The death of a child is the most painful event that a parent never quite gets over.  It is easy for us, then, to identify with the pain of the widow in the Gospel who lost her only son.  Yet Jesus says to her, “Do not weep.” How could he say that? Jesus knows the plan: “God has visited his people.” God desires Life not death, Hope not despair.  As the Son of God, Jesus has the power and authority to restore life, and so he does.  Jesus has the compassion to bring hope, and so he does. 

 

Every new opportunity of restoration is given to us in order to do better in life.  It is an opportunity to complete our mission here on earth.  Each day, Jesus restores us to life through the sacraments of life; especially, through the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.  When Jesus restores us to life, he also expects us to live it to the fullest. This means walking in his light and truth. 

 

This weekend, we are reminded that God is the author of life.  He is the one who through His Son and the Holy Spirit restores and sustains us.  So, what we do with our life is very important.  We do not just live for ourselves, we live for God.

 

Blessings,

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

 

 

 

Solemnity of th Body & Blood of Christ —Year C

During part of the Church’s history, there was such a devotion to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist that believers would hurry from one church to another just to catch a glimpse of the consecrated bread as the priest held it high during the “Elevation”.  There was a sense of their being blest just by seeing.  In the year 1254, the feast of the Body of Christ was established and the Eucharistic Presence would be carried in procession through the streets as a blessing for the faithful.  In some areas of the world this tradition still remains.

 

In the First Reading for this celebration, we hear of a very brief victory party.   The chapter from which these verses are taken is a history of battles waged against a dominating ruler.  Abram has assisted the kings in their war and so the king of Jerusalem, aka Salem, blesses God and God’s servant Abram for their deliverance.  Abram is blest in the sharing of bread and wine according to custom and then makes an offering in thanksgiving.  Abram was blest and so he could be generous in response.

 

The Gospel-story appears in all four narratives of the life of Jesus, but Luke has his own ideas about its purpose.  The chapter from which these verses are taken begins with the sending of the Apostles.  They are sent off to proclaim the Good News, but they are not to take extra provisions.  They return telling Jesus about all they had done and seen.    Jesus takes them off to a lonely place to rest and reflect, but this large crowd comes looking for them.  When the day grows late a tension arises about the “feeding” of such a large number.

 

Jesus tells them to feed the crowd themselves, but they reply in terms of their poverty; they don’t have much.  The tension is resolved when Jesus takes what little they have and he blesses the bread and fish, giving thanks, he hands the food to the apostles to set before the crowd.

The Apostles are to break bread for the healing of the faithful.  Those wishing to be fed had to gather together and “sit down”.  They had to show some sign that they were both hungry and open to receive.  They had little to offer the crowd and at the end there were twelve basketsful. God does much with little.

 

The Corpus Christi processions continue every day then when we as members of that Body walk through the streets of our communities.  The Eucharist feeds us to be what the Eucharist wants us to do.  We do not hurry from church to church to catch sight of the consecrated bread.  We hurry from one church out to the church of the world to be available and present so that those in the streets will see Christ in the body, still present, still being more than meets the eye.

 

Peace & Blessings,

 

Dcn. Wally Mitsui

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity - Year C

A life of communion to be lived and shared is one phrase that best sums up the central message of this Sunday. We are baptized in the name of the Triune God. Our Christian faith and life revolves around the Holy Trinity which is the center piece of our Christian faith. That is why we always begin and end all our prayers, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". One of the greetings at the beginning of each Mass is an excellent synthesis of this truth, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you"  (2 Cor. 13:14).

 

The Responsorial Psalm today is a psalm of praise, "O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth." (Ps 8). The entire celebration of this solemnity is like a continuous hymn of praise to the Triune God. In his earthly life, Jesus gradually reveals to his disciples the mystery of being totally united with the Father. One is reminded of the conversation between Jesus and Philip in St. John's Gospel, where Philip wanted Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus replied to him: "You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (In. 14:11). The conversation with Nicodemus in the Gospel this Sunday implies that love prompted the Father to send the Son, the bearer of the Holy Spirit, the source of life. This communion with God is the goal of Christian life and faith.

 

The Holy Trinity is not just a subject of theological speculation on the three divine persons. Rather, it is a life of communion; a life to be lived and shared. Therefore, we need to go beyond talking about love, communion and sharing, and put those ideas into practice by being instruments of reconciliation, mercy and compassion. That is why God, in creating us, does not put us directly into heaven, because if He did so, we would mess the life of communion up there! Our life here on earth is a time to practice concrete ways of sharing, healing and living in communion with the people God has given us.

 

Briefly we can sum up the message in three points: 1) The Most Holy Trinity is a model of life of communion to be lived and imitated. 2) The solemnity challenges us to be instruments of reconciliation, healing and compassion. 3) One way of living such a life starts with prayer together. For example, in a family or a basic Christian community, an overflow into the sharing of faith and healing with those who may be hurt and wounded in our community.

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Pastor

Pentecost Sunday - Year C

For us as human beings, motivation plays a huge role in why and how we do anything and everything. Love and need are strong motivators. Enthusiasm and passion can drive us into action. Admiration for someone’s goodness can inspire us to follow in one’s footsteps. We tend to do more and be more when we act in union with others. Assistance of others not only eases the load anyone carries, but also increases the creative insights and encouragement. It complements what is lacking in any individual.

 

Today we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit by the risen Lord. Originally Pentecost was traditionally a Jewish feast held fifty days after Passover. After Moses received the law on Mount Sinai, the Israelites introduced the feast of Pentecost to thank God for his predilection. The solemnity of Pentecost is really about motivation. It was the moment when each of the apostles had the overwhelming experience of being loved by God. We are celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit and his effects on the Church. This gift motivates us to live as faithful followers of Jesus, who share in his risen Life. As followers of Jesus, we never stand alone in the world.

 

By saying that the apostles had received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Luke teaches that the Spirit had substituted the old law and had become the new law for the Christians. He uses the phenomenon of tongues symbolically to indicate the universality of the Church. The gospel message is for all peoples of all times. It breaks up all barriers of color, race and language. All those who allow themselves to be transformed by the Spirit of the gospel now speak a language that everybody can understand: the language of love. This language unites all peoples together. The Spirit forms a new family where all can understand and love each other.

 

The members of the Corinthian Church were no better than us: they committed the same sins, had the same defects and failures. The charisms bestowed on them brought divisions. All the gifts and qualities each of them had were not given to cause divisions, but to foster unity. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose, for the common good. As Christians we make up one body, but with many parts. Every part has its own function for the good of the whole body. The gifts are used to manifest a person’s love for others, through humble service. Through the Holy Spirit we become sharers of the same risen Life, the same saving mission, the same love. We share with others the same Spirit who dwells within and among us, binding us as one people. We become one with God’s love in a unique way. We become bigger than ourselves. Our love motivates us to keep his commandments and word, the measure of our being together in community. Living the paschal mystery means that this good gift has its cost - we still must die to ourselves in order to be the true Presence of Christ for others. Let’s pray to be imbued with God’s transforming Spirit for the mission of evangelization.

 

Fr. Boniface Waema

Jesus' Ascension - A Call to be Witnesses, to Spread the Good News!

This weekend we celebrate the last of Jesus’ earthly mysteries. We celebrate a great truth 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, so that we can conquer sin and death! The Ascension means that we can now live every day with the hope of heaven.  Knowing where Jesus has gone, we can follow — into the highest heavens! This is the beautiful truth we celebrate. His Ascension is the start of our mission, the mission Jesus gave to his Church! It is the mission we inherited as part of our baptism responsibilities. Jesus promises that we will be “clothed with power from on high.” This “clothing” is the Holy Spirit dressing us from within and empowering us to go on with the mission that we have been entrusted, to continue Jesus’ saving ministry.

 

In the reading from Acts, he assures the apostles and us that we “will be (Jesus’) witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Being clothed with the Holy Spirit is a wonderful Gift. Being faithful to this Gift is pure choice. We choose to be faithful when we continue the saving work of Jesus. Now, we need to ask ourselves how well are we doing with what Jesus asked us to do (His mission, the Church’s mission)? Are we, like the disciples, staring at the heavens, when there is work to do here on earth? Or are we thinking, “Well that is the work of the church leaders: the Pope, bishop, priests, deacons and religious…it isn’t for me. I can’t do it. I am not a public speaker or don’t know how to preach.”   Jesus isn’t asking all of us to preach. Jesus, however, is asking for something more, something even harder: he is asking us to be his witnesses.

 

In one level, that’s a challenge because witness actually means “martyr”, the martyrdom of simply being a witness to the Gospel often involves something we find increasingly elusive: Mercy. Let’s be honest, how much mercy do we witness today, at work, on highways, around our own kitchen table, our own homes, or after Mass in our own parking lot? “Hurry up get in the car, we’re going to miss brunch (breakfast/lunch), Deacon’s homily was too long.”  How much are we being merciful? How much are we living, truly living, the Gospel in our daily lives?

This glorious Solemnity of the Ascension - one of the “glorious mysteries” we pray on the rosary—asks each of us to do something glorious. It asks us to rise with Christ, to defy the laws of gravity. It asks us to defy the world, to change the world. 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 and homilies? LOVE! Love one another. We have heard it again and again, 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. Our mission is to change that.  

 

Jesus ascended into heaven, blessing His disciples and promising they (we) would soon receive the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit strengthens us for our mission in his Church, to be his apostles and 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.

May the Lord Bless you!

Dcn. Modesto Cordero