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

 

 

What is Peace and Where Does it Come From?

For someone suffering from arthritis, an hour or two without pain could feel like peace. For students/teachers anticipating the end of the school year, finishing exam week could be peace.  Thoughts of the end to war and violence can bring peace.  All of these examples could describe peace, however none of them fully capture the peace Jesus speaks of.

 

Listen to Jesus' words in the Gospel according to John: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you."

 

In his final days, Jesus foretold his own death and resurrection. Jesus told his disciples that they no longer had to worry about Him.  Rather, they should rejoice that He would join His Father in Heaven.  God, the Father, would send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate (Paraclete); the third Person of the Trinity, to always be with them and to guide them towards His peace, His love, and His joy.

 

To have the Holy Spirit with us is to have God himself working with us.  The Holy Spirit teaches us God's Word and leads us to Truth.  The Holy Spirit leads us to peace in the same way Jesus gives His peace to the disciples.

 

Jesus gave us peace. He taught us how to find it: we must love Him by keeping His word -- peace is God dwelling in us.

 

As Catholic Christians, we are obligated to evangelize by spreading His peace and love. Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you:  Spend time with your children (or with your parents); Invite a friend to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament; Pray the rosary together; Help someone in need.

 

I have no doubt that we, with the Holy Spirit working through us, can bring Jesus' peace to the whole community.

 

Peace & Blessings to All,

 

Dcn. Romeo Ganibe

The Fifth Sunday of Easter - Year C

In the First Reading, Luke presents Paul and Barnabas as having success and resistance.  As in the Gospel, Luke pictures the gestures of healing as invitations to be received by some and rejected by others.

 

Paul and Barnabas have been preaching and recently raised a man who had been crippled from birth.  Some responded by believing they were gods, Zeus and Hermes.  Others wanted to stone them. What we hear in today’s reading is an account of their fidelity to their ministry no matter what the responses.  They begin forming the church’s structure by commissioning a group of elders to continue gathering or calling the community together.  The travelers continue their preaching from town to town and return eventually to announce that the grace of God through their preaching has reached even to the Gentiles.  For Luke, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon the Apostles from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.  God’s embrace has no geographical or tribal boundaries.

 

Today’s Gospel is from the first chapter of Jesus’ Last Discourse.  This chapter also begins the second part of John’s Gospel, which is known as The Book of Glory.  It comprises the five chapters of Jesus’ last address to his disciples, the two chapters of his Passion and the two chapters narrating his resurrection.

 

The message from Jesus is short and sweet, said while they were all at table, but we can hear them also as the desperate desire of a dying person.  “I have only one thing to sum it all up so listen carefully.”  Love is perhaps the easiest yet most difficult human experience about which to write.  No greater love is there than the laying down of one’s life for even one other person.  During this Easter time it might be well to respond to Jesus’ commandment by reflecting upon how love involves dying even in the littlest ways.  Love and Justice go together well, but loving is not a just experience.  If we expect to get back what we give, that is business not a love relationship. 

 

What Jesus is asking of us is impossible if we expect to love others as much and as faithfully as he loved us.  Loving takes time, takes chances, takes opportunities, takes rejection, takes awareness, but does not take, grab, demand, measure but receives.

 

TO BE THE BEST PERSON YOU CAN BE, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, YOU ALSO SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

 

Easter Blessings,

 

Dcn. Wally Mitsui

The Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year C

Evangelization, the fourth sign of a dynamic Catholic is the overarching theme of this Sunday’s readings. Listening and following the Risen Lord are the key words that capture the central message. The readings first remind us that the risen Christ, the Lamb slain for our sins is our Shepherd who gives us eternal life. That is the fulfillment of the vision in the Book of Revelations that speaks about those who are finally rewarded with new life, where they will never hunger nor be thirsty again.

 

The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is about the evangelizing efforts of the early Church. It draws our attention to the difficulties that beset the Church in its witness. Paul and Barnabas follow the voice of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the message of the Shepherd to the Jews. The rejection of the Good News by the Jews in Antioch becomes a blessing in disguise, because Paul and Barnabas turn to the Gentiles who warmly welcome the Good News. The comforting message is clear. Countless difficulties, opposition, deceit and persecution have never succeeded in blocking the evangelizing mission of the Church.

 

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

 

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

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Pastor

 

 

 

The Third Sunday of Easter - Year C

Today's gospel details the transformation made possible by the risen Christ. Through his guidance, the apostles net a great number of fish after a catch-less night. They needed a spiritual nutrition of encounter and belief for them to declare their love for Christ and follow him with fidelity. After this incidence, Christ invites the apostles to share in his ongoing ministry and, at the same time, he asks Peter for his complete conversion, a radical change. He demands from him an unconditional capacity to love, a greater capacity than anybody else. This is the meaning of "look after my sheep". Peter, who is fortified not only by the gift of breakfast, but even more so by gift of encounter with the risen Christ, declares his total love for him, replacing his triple denial.

 

The experience of resurrected Christ transforms the way we are, enabling us to obey his ongoing invitation, "Follow me". We are strengthened by Jesus' risen Presence, by his invitation to follow him; by his own love for us that transforms our love into faithfulness and fruitfulness. Risen Life is a gift that is given to us by Christ, but we must also seek and grasp it. This faith in Christ has always suffered opposition. The apostles suffered similar opposition and persecution from the Jewish religious leaders. They were perceived as trouble-makers in the community. Should we wonder if even today Christians are considered so? In the past Christians gave trouble to anybody defending situations of injustice incompatible with the Gospel. True Christians have always resisted and will keep on resisting anybody wanting to perpetuate unbearable traditions offending the human dignity. They will never leave in peace those who make laws that trample on genuine rights of the person. Today, as Christians do we obey God or people?

 

We must open ourselves to be fortified by all the gifts given to us so that our follow-response is energetic, sustained, and fruitful. Sometimes we experience what the seven apostles experienced: they fished for the whole night and caught nothing! Why? For the very same reason that we also fail so often: they were not guided by the word of the risen Lord. Jesus gives us all the nourishment we need in order to meet the demands of daily discipleship. Accepting the nourishment that Jesus offers means that; by following him we ourselves become his risen Presence, those who lead others to him. Every day we must take care that our actions announce Jesus' gift of nourishment, and at the same time that they speak of his goodness and care. Leading others to Jesus doesn't mean doing big things; it means doing the little things well and so reflect the risen Life dwelling within us. No matter what our act of love is, it always means saying yes to Jesus and his risen Life.

 

Fr. Boniface Waema

Peace be with You!

Jesus is risen!  He is risen indeed!  This Second Sunday of Easter bears the name of Divine Mercy Sunday.  The title of Divine Mercy was given to this Sunday by Pope John Paul II in 2000, when he canonized Sister Faustina Kowalsaka. At the canonization he said, “To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the risen Lord offers the gift of his love that pardons, reconciles and opens the soul to hope. It is love that converts hearts and brings peace”. He added,“How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!” Saint John Paul II reminded us that we are called to act daily with a spirit of mercy toward our neighbors and our enemies with prayers, words, and deeds. Fifteen years later, Pope Francis declared an “Extraordinary Jubilee (Year) of Mercy”. Like St. John Paul II,  he also reminds us that mercy is “the beating heart of the Gospel” and that as Christians we are called to be “Merciful like the Father” toward our neighbors and our enemies.

 

In the first reading, we heard how the Holy Spirit filled the apostles with an ever-deepening faith and shared the power of God’s healing mercy with them.  In the book of Revelation, John shared with us an invitation to put aside all fear and know Christ as the living one. The gospel speaks about the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners.  This gospel is about new life, peace, faith and commissioning. As God breathed on Adam on paradise, and give him new life, Jesus now breathes on his disciples giving new life in the Spirit. He transforms them from frightened disciples into apostles. He sent them to go and be a witness, commissioning them to become witnesses of the Word.  It is at this time that Jesus imparts his spirit of peace and confers upon the disciples the power to forgive sins.

 

Jesus brought peaceto the disciples.  Three times in today’s gospel Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you.” What is this peace he brings? It is a peace that calms fears, empowers forgiveness, and prompts us to accept the reality of suffering and death as doorways to new life. The peace Jesus brings prompts us to face death rather than shy away from it.  The peace Jesus brings prompts us to set right our relationships.  The peace Jesus brings prompts us to accept a new life.  It is a peace that is the gift of the risen Lord.  This peace bestows on us the power to make a difference in our world, to continue Jesus’ ministry of bringing salvation to all. 

 

At the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” These words are an assurance that we ALL have the enduring presence of Jesus now and the gift of DIVINE sonship that is the basis of our Christian peace.  We are ‘ALL’ called to embody the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives in a matter that when people come into our presence they can experience peace in a way that reminds them that Christ is present and active in our lives. We need to remember that we are signs of God’s presence, God’s peace. We have these fifty days of Easter to come to a greater belief, deepen our relationships, forgive, and spread peace. More so, we have our entire lifetime to manifest the good works of our belief. So let’s get to work!

 

Happy Easter!

 

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

Easter Sunday Morning - Year C

The story is told of a child who began to read the Gospel. Like millions before her, she quickly became charmed by Jesus. Suddenly, she ran out of her room crying hysterically into her mother’s arms, "They killed him! They killed him!" Her mother comforted her then whispered, "now go back and finish the story." You and I know the rest of the story. Yet, we have difficulty in owning the resurrection and allowing it to impact our lives.

 

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter shares with the crowds the witness of his faith in the resurrection with utter conviction that Jesus, who died on the Cross, is now alive. Peter is so filled with the joy of it that he simply must share that same joy with others – so that it can be theirs, too. Similarly, the experience of the resurrection by Paul leads him to advise that we keep focused on the risen Christ, since Christ is our life. For Paul, we know that this experience brought a total revolution in his life, and gave him a totally new vision of things, especially of the meaning of Jesus' life and message.

 

In the Gospel, we have the experience of the empty tomb as a sign of Jesus' resurrection. This first day of the week is full of emotions, commotion and confusion. The discovery of the empty tomb by Mary of Magdala may have been very disappointing, even confusing. John, who writes today’s Gospel, tells us he entered into the empty tomb, “he saw and he believed”. Renewed by the appearance of the risen Lord, the disciples were moved to witness the mystery of the resurrection.

 

The message we take home on this joyful Easter day is threefold. 1) You and I know that the story of Jesus does not end on the Cross but that his resurrection is the motivation for our sharing that good news with others. 2) Like the little girl in the story, when we feel overwhelmed by our own personal issues, the risen Lord reminds us to go and finish the story and realize there is always hope. 3) On this Easter morning, may the resurrection transform us so we may lead others to discover the best way to live; may it give us the grace and courage to proclaim that “Christ is risen indeed, alleluia.”

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda 

 

 

Palm Sunday: A Call to Proceed in Innocence!

Palm Sunday marks the conclusion of our   40-day journey through the desert of our lives!  The journey we all started five weeks ago, when marked by the ashes, we were reminded to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.” During this past five weeks, we heard the story about a man from Galilee that taught, healed, and prepared his way for the day when he would go to Jerusalem.  We heard stories about temptations, transfiguration, repentance, prodigal sons, tax collectors, adulterous women, and the raising of the dead. All these accounts, from the gospel readings, bring us to an end of our 40-day journey and to a beginning of a new one.

 

Palm Sunday begins an extraordinary week — a week that concentrates on the ultimate meaning of our whole life. We must slow down and make choices so that this week does not go by without us taking the time to listen and entering into the understanding of its meaning.  It is clear that the suffering of Jesus is the most prominent feature of the passion story we heard today.  However, it is necessary to insist that this story is not primarily about suffering: it is about love. It was Jesus' love for us that brought him to his passion and early death, and it was his love for us that opened the way for our redemption. The suffering was a consequence of his love for us.  Now, the question we have in front of us is: How do we let the power of the passion account move us when it is so familiar to us?  Again, the only way is to slow down, pray, and reflect on the innocent Man that gave His life for us so we can become more innocent ourselves.

 

In the first reading, Isaiah announces the obedience of a suffering servant whose tongue faithfully proclaims God’s Word.  He encountered suffering and abuse from the crowds; yet he endured mistreatment and continued to proclaim God’s word.  In the second reading to the Philippians, we heard about Jesus’ self-emptying love for us.  First, he self-emptied himself by becoming human, one among us. Second, he self-emptied himself again, by embracing a violent and cruel death. How many of us are ready to take, to endure so much pain, shame and mocking to defend God’s Word?

 

In Luke’s passion account, Jesus hands himself over, not to his executioners, but to his Father: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” An innocent man! On five occasions Jesus is declared innocent - three times by Pilate, once by the Good Thief, once by the centurion at the foot of the cross.  Jesus died not because of guilt, but because of infinite compassionate love for us.  Even in the midst of great suffering, he extended his compassion to others - to the servant whose ear was cut off, to the weeping women, to the Good Thief. His compassion was so total that he willingly emptied himself “to the point of death.”

 

Today we are invited to proceed in innocence by being compassionate toward others and our own selves. This means doing our usual tasks with joy, being kind to those cranky folks around us, meeting setbacks as paths to learning. This innocence is possible when we commend ourselves into God’s hands. We grow in innocence through imitating Jesus’ compassion for others. 

 

Today we look at the cross and know that the Compassionate One is looking back.  He sees the pain we have within us, our weakness, our insecurities, our fears, and our sins.  He accepts the cross so our pain can become His pain. He calls us to let go of all that is destroying us and trust in His Compassionate Mercy, as you see more clearly the needs of others, love them more totally, and empty yourselves for their sake. Then you and I will share the innocence and compassion of the one whom we celebrate today.

 

Blessings!

 

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

Ezekiel, in our First Reading, is speaking of a vision he had.  He is speaking to the disheartened people of Israel in captivity, away from their promised land.  These verses follow immediately upon the famous “Dry Bones” vision where the prophet calls upon the “Breath” or “Spirit” of God to bring life and spirit together as the bones are rejoined.  We hear a promise meant to bring joy and hope back into their lives.

 

Two points of hope are stressed with a comforting introduction.  “My people” proclaims that God has not disowned Israel while they are in captivity.  As the bones in the vision will be rejoined, so their graves will be opened and the dead shall rise.  They will be returning to their land and to affirm the promise, the Lord says that “This is my story and I am going to stick with it.”  God is professing fidelity to the people.

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is told about the illness of His good friend, Lazarus.  John has Jesus saying. “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.  Stated simply, Jesus does these “signs” or “works” so that seeing them, people will come to believe that He is the One who has been sent.

 

Seeing is a means to see beyond what is seen, we call that faith.  Recovery of sight and recovery of life go together; they are the same work or sign.  Glory for John is revelation or visibility.  We do not believe within a vacuum, and God has come as the Light to enlighten us through the presence of the God made Flesh.

 

Lazarus was dead and again apparently the impossible situation presents a drama through which Jesus brings resolution.  Can a dead man rise?  The answer is clear, but the physical is a bit symbolic.  There is more to living than being brought back from death.  Jesus says to Martha that believing in Him is what life is, and those who do believe will never die.  When Jesus asks her if she believes, she says simply, “Yes Lord.”  At the end of the narrative we hear, “Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what He had done began to believe in Him.”    All John’s stories end with such statements of belief.  The man who was blind, the woman at the well, those who were fed in the desert, all had to see the “signs” and surrender to what was really present beyond.

 

These days of Lent, as we pray our way towards the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, we can also pray with the graces of resurrecting pain from the tombs of our heart. Let us remember, “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”

 

Peace & Blessings,

 

Deacon Wally Mitsui

Called to be Bearers of the Light

The central message of this Sunday is that Christ heals our spiritual blindness in our Baptism and makes us bearers of the truth. That is the meaning of the second Scrutiny celebrated this Sunday for those preparing for Baptism at Easter. The celebrant prays over the Candidates and anoints them with Holy Oil in a rite of exorcism that symbolically restores their spiritual sight so that they begin to see Jesus, follow him become bearers of the light.

 

The purpose of the second scrutiny is to symbolically restore the spiritual sight of the catechumens, so that they can see Jesus and follow him. For those already Baptized, Christ renews our vision as if it were from 10/10 to 20/20 vision, so that we can begin to see as God sees (cf. 1 Sam 16:7). The three readings help us to see a sharp contrast between light and darkness. In the first reading, Samuel struggles as it were in darkness, trying to find a king, but only succeeds in finding young David when he begins to see as God sees. In the second reading, Paul reminds us that we were once darkness, but now because of our Baptism we are the light in the Lord. We are therefore challenged to be bearers of the light.

 

The story of the man born blind in the Gospel contrasts the sight of the man born blind to the blindness of intellectual Pharisees. The Gospel reminds us that our Baptism enlightens us to see and embrace God’s vision, life, goodness and truth. Our Baptism commits us to be bearers of the light and to confront the spiritual blindness of the world with the truth.

 

The passage clearly contrasts light and darkness, faith and the refusal to accept the truth. In the story, Jesus not only gives the blind man his sight, physical light, but he also gives him the light of faith. The story is about you and me in moments of our own spiritual blindness and darkness. In our selfishness; our inclinations for pleasure; in our greed for material things, we become spiritually blind and lose our spiritual sight.

 

The message we take home is threefold: 1) In baptism, Christ has healed our blindness and given us the light of faith, so that, like the healed blind man, we may proclaim Christ boldly despite the opposition from those still in darkness. 2) Just as the blind man, after being healed, began to witness to Christ, we too are challenged to become bearers of the light even in times of opposition. 3) Just as in the Gospel story, we must not allow dishonesty and the distortion of the truth to dim our light, because Christ is our Light.

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

 

Pastor

The Catholic Church: The Well of Living Water

Long ago, when people were thirsty and out of water, they journeyed to the nearest well to fetch a bucket full of clean water. Today, our reliance on fresh water has not changed. We all must constantly hydrate to remain healthy. Fittingly, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that everyone who drinks water from the well will always be thirsty, but those who drink from Christ's living water will never thirst - and will be led to eternal life.

The story of the Samaritan woman is a metaphor for our own lives - often lived in deserts of alienation, sinfulness, and despair. This season of Lent, we long for refreshing water to acknowledge our own need in the midst of the desert, our need of breaking down barriers, and our need of finding the living water that will truly quench our thirst.

Welcome to the Catholic Church - the Well of Living Water! When we enter through the doors of our parish, we have journeyed to the Well of Living Water. Here, we partake in Christ's Word, His Body and His Blood. In the Church, we find rejuvenation and strength to continue our journey towards holiness. Within these walls, we thank God for everything he has given to us. Our spirit cannot live without Christ. When we fill our spirit with Him, we allow ourselves to also become full of Living Water. At St. John Apostle and Evangelist Church, the Well of Living Water will never run dry.  We are all invited to come and take the water of life as a gift. May we respond to that invitation with an ever greater thirst, and say “in spirit and truth" to Jesus now, "Give us that life giving water always!"

 

Christ is the Living Water. We are challenged to be filled with Christ and bless the World with Living Water!

 

Blessings to All!

 

Deacon Romeo Ganibe