Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prophetic witness, ministry with challenges, a thorn in the flesh; for “when I am weak, then I am strong.” The readings of this Sunday invite us to reflect on our call to ministry and the challenges that go with our extraordinary mission to give prophetic witness like Ezekiel, Jesus and Paul. While St. Paul compares the challenges in his ministry to a thorn in the flesh, the Gospel gives us a concrete example of Jesus who is rejected in his own hometown. We ordinary people are reminded that we have an extraordinary mission to stand for the truth in the face of risking being ridiculed, rejected, hated or persecuted. Perhaps that is what Paul in the second reading means by a thorn in his flesh. Paul sees an advantage in his weakness and refers to it as "a thorn in the flesh". It reminds him of dependence on Christ. Because of Christ Paul can say, "When I am weak, then I am strong." Being rejected can be a great obstacle and therefore a weakness in our witness. However the grace of God is well able to transform weakness into strength and failure into success. Even when our weakness is real, God has an incredible possibility for each of us. I am reminded of the many stories of people who were rejected and then suddenly turned around to succeed. Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star as a cartoonist in 1919 because, his editor said, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” he turned around with his brother Roy to create one of the largest media empires in the world.

 

I tell this story because in the Gospel, Jesus is rejected in his own home town of Nazareth. What happens when Jesus is rejected? He moves on focused on his mission. Being rejected may be a thorn in the flesh, but we need to see its flip side as an opportunity. Jesus was a thorn in the flesh for the synagogue the people in Nazareth. The Church today is thorn in the flesh for civil authorities. In the face of such witness, the Church is ridiculed in the public media. Pope Francis just issued an Encyclical on the Care of our Common Home. While many have welcomed this historic document, it becomes a perfect example of prophetic witness and a thorn in the flesh for some civil authorities. As expected, the pope has been criticized by the media and some politicians. Surprisingly, some Catholic politicians have gone as far as to tell the pope to stay out of politics. These challenges are part of the enemy within the Body of Christ, manipulated by the evil one to see if we will cave in. Christ promises his grace and his presence as we fight this war which is also his battle on our side. That grace for us ordinary people is enough to win the war as we give witness to Jesus Christ. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Like St. Paul, we too have our weakness and challenges, but being the best version of ourselves can give us extraordinary power and boldness to witness. 2) Like Walt Disney being rejected, God’s grace can lead us to turn around towards the goal of our extraordinary mission. 3) As disciples and stewards we must never quit our extraordinary mission of witness nor be intimidated by threats, even if in our witness we have to die for the truth.

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

 

Pastor

13th Sunday In Ordinary time

Today’s readings offer to us an invitation.  Like Jesus, we are invited to bring healing, life, and joy to others.  However, we need to keep God always present in our lives first before we can help others.  The first reading from the Book of Wisdom urges us to seek a right relationship with God above all else.  God creates this world as good, filled with gifts that lead its inhabitant’s right back to eternal life with God.  God did not make death, only good things.  Through sin, death entered the human condition.  This death spoken in the first reading refers to the ultimate separation from God.  This kind of death is due to the influence of the prince of this world, who seeks to steer people away from God.  The opposite of this second death is immortality.  In the words of this reading, “God formed man to be imperishable.”  St. Paul encourages us to grow and help others in faith by promoting, preserving, and choosing life over death.  As followers of Jesus, we are to support one another in our faith and in our needs.

 

Healing, life over death and faith are also the main messages in the gospel of Mark.  Jesus heals the woman with a hemorrhage and brings back to life the synagogue official’s daughter.  In both narratives faith is the key to triggering and focusing the Lord’s magnificent power.  In both cases, faith is the channel through which the Lord goes to work restoring life.  As Christian stewards we are called to have the same faith in Jesus so he can heal our mental, spiritual, psychological, and physical afflictions.  Faith is a gift of God.  We nurture it and allow it to deepen within us.  But when we come in faith to God for healing, why does it not always happen according to our prayer and expectation?  When we pray to Jesus for healing and we do get healed, we may call it a miracle, but when we don’t get healed, our faith trembles and we question God’s healing powers.  The faith that saves is not based on physical miracles.  Nor is the faith that saves merely an intellectual consent to revelation.  The faith that saves is an act of coming to Jesus.  Simply coming to Jesus is already a healing.

 

In the Eucharist, we enact a great drama of life and death.  In recalling and re-enacting Jesus’ death and resurrection, we enter more fully into God’s life and are empowered to proclaim the joy of the gospel.

 

Blessings!

 

Dcn. Modesto Cordero

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary TIme - Year B

This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day when we honor in a special way all dads and all men who have been a father figure for us. Happy Father’s Day! Before the final blessing there will be a special blessing for all fathers and grandfathers. Those who live around coastal areas know what it feels like when caught up in a storm at sea or on the lake. The Gospel passage reveals the identity of Jesus as the Lord of the rough seas and the storms of our life. When we find ourselves in such storms, we need a spiritual vision to guide us and reach the shore safely. In the Gospel reading, the disciples discover the mystery of Christ and his power over natural disaster. In the calming of the storm, Mark brings out clearly both, the humanity and divinity of Jesus, as well as the humanity of the disciples. Although the disciples had been accustomed to rough waters, this time the sudden storm gave them a terrible fright. Jesus was fast asleep, tired from the long hours of a busy ministry during the day. For a moment they completely forgot Jesus was with them, and in panic, they feared they would all sink in the waves. In their fear they cried to Jesus for help.

 

Jesus commanded the wind and the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then Jesus took the opportunity to offer his disciples an important catechesis, challenging their lack of faith and lack of awareness of who he really was, namely God, the Lord of all creation, including the storms. The point of this event is that in the midst of the turbulence of our life’s journey, Christ is present. Like the disciples, when we are so frightened, he asks us: "why are you terrified?" Sometimes we may wonder why bad things happen to us or even to good innocent persons. God does not cause evil, but He permits it in order to teach us the mystery of his presence in our lives; in order to strengthen our faith and trust in Him. We have only to turn to God in faith for God is always in control. In the first reading from the book of Job, God reveals himself to Job as the one who controls the storms and the seas; the one who made the clouds. Job has no reason whatsoever to doubt for God indicates to Job that He is in full control of creation. God explains to Job about the origin of the earth, the seas and the light. In the Gospel, Jesus is the revelation of God who has superiority over the seas, all powers and the final victory is His. To his Apostles Jesus asks a question which should resonate with each of us today because it is actually addressed to us: Why are you terrified? So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Like the apostles, in the turbulent storms of our lives, may we not forget that indeed Jesus is right there; all we need to do is to turn to Him in prayer of faith. 2) Christ is indeed saves us from the rough seas and the storms of our life. 3) Before such a God who controls the storms and the seas, as disciples and stewards we need not doubt, that He is well able to control the storms of our lives through Christ in our midst.

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

 

Pastor

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

The readings this Sunday proclaim the mystery of the Kingdom of God. In the first reading, it uses the metaphor of a “tender shoot” that God will take from the exiled people in Babylon and replant on the mountains of Israel. The passage foretells a reversal of fortunes by God who will restore an exiled people into a nation. God will choose the weak and the lowly to make them strong. What was once weak and vulnerable will become exalted. That prophecy is fulfilled in Christ. I am reminded of the amazing story of St. John Vianney’s path to the priesthood, which had been marked by many uncertainties, failures and tears.  Virtually failing his studies, his ordination had only come about because his close friend was able to pull some strings in the Diocese of Lyons.  And even when ordained, few held any hopes for this illiterate, simple peasant.  For a man to be sent to Ars, he was held by his brother priests as a disgrace.  As pastor of Ars, he became known for his priestly radical spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings through the Sacrament of Confession. I tell this story because this Sunday Jesus, in the Gospel, uses two short parables to show how the kingdom of God unfolds mysteriously like in the case of St. John Vianney.

 

In the first parable, Jesus compares the growth of the kingdom to a seed that a farmer plants and then retires from the scene, going about other duties. The growth of the seed does not depend on him, for it has its own potential growth. The point of the parable is that the kingdom of God starts small, in each of us, but when we allow ourselves to grow in God’s life, we become powerful instruments of growing the kingdom. God has incredible possibilities for each of us to be transformed into something beautiful for God and for the growth of the Church. “Transforming people one at a time is at the center of God’s plan for the world.” The growth of the seed is God’s plan, and thus the growth happens in the most unexpected ways, times and places. Even the people that come our way in moments we never planned is part of that growth. The kingdom of God grows in the most unlikely places: in the poor, in the midst of persecution, in our sickness or that of our relatives, in our family trial moments; in times of personal struggle. What seems humanly insignificant, failure or impossible is transformed by God’s power and grace into success, and a wonderful experience of God’s salvation. The message may be summed up in three points. 1) The readings proclaim the mystery of the kingdom of God that grows unnoticed in each of us. 2) The readings exhort us to be open God’s planting of the seed of his word in our hearts.  3) As stewards, we must never be discouraged by what seems to be insignificant or failure in our lives, for God thrives in failure and powerlessness.

 

Msgr. John Mbinda

 

Pastor

This is My Body and Blood Given for You

Today we celebrate the fact that Jesus has made himself - body, blood, soul and divinity - available to us in the form of bread and wine.  He gives himself - his very Body and Blood - to us as our heavenly food. This is the mystery we celebrate on Holy Thursday and this Sunday. In the Eucharist, Jesus is always present to us. He comes to transform us just as the Host is transformed, not an outward appearance but in our inner lives. During the Eucharist we stay as God’s guests. Then we move on from one place to another, from one person to another, to witness God’s mighty deeds of salvation. From the time of the Last Supper until today, Jesus “disdains” no dwelling, but consents to come like a guest to any heart disposed to receive him. No one can call him on the phone, but you can visit him in person. Just to sit in Jesus’ presence with a quieted heart can do wonders.

 

During the last supper Jesus instituted the Eucharist. The words of institution are the most important he ever spoke to his disciples. This was the last time that he would have an opportunity to speak to them, so he summed up all his teaching, and indeed the very meaning of his life among them, as “Body-broken-for-them” and “Blood-poured-out for-them.” He wanted to impress on them that human success and happiness would come only to those who join him in “breaking” their bodies and “pouring out” their blood for others. There can never be a better Prayer than to respond to this love of God, expressed in the self-giving of Jesus. We can never be grateful enough for what he has done for us. We commit ourselves to the full extent of our ability, to love and serve the needs of others, in the sure knowledge that we too will thereby share in his resurrection glory. God’s gifts to us are not so we can settle in, stay put, become passive. God’s gifts always impel us to move on, to spread the Good News, to “pass over” into someone new.

 

The Eucharistic bread is not medicine that heals the sick miraculously. It requires faith, which is the acceptance of what the rite signifies. Our interior transformation does not depend on the number of times we receive the Holy Communion, but on the faith with in which we receive it. The effectiveness of the Eucharist is bound up with the firmness of our decision to let ourselves be molded by Christ and identify ourselves every day more with him in this sacrament. Without such faith, without our interior acceptance, even the blood of the new Covenant won’t produce the required fruit.

 

It is always appropriate to spend some devotional time before the Blessed Sacrament. Our time of adoration and thanksgiving, however, must always flow from the action of the Eucharist itself and lead us to witness more clearly in our lives the self-giving of Jesus. Every act of self-giving for the good of others is also preparation for celebrating Eucharist. Dressing in something other than every day or work clothes is another way we prepare ourselves and also witness to others the importance of Eucharist in our lives.

 

Fr. Boniface Waema

Parochial Vicar

The Most Holy Trinity

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

 

The Holy Trinity is perhaps the deepest and most profound of all mysteries. The church teaches us that through our one God, we identify three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So, we do not speak of three separate Gods, but see three in one. We see a love that is truly powerful!

 

Our Father gives his compassion, as he always calls for us, reaching for his children. His love is forever present, even when we are distant, just like the love for the prodigal son. With his son, Jesus an overflowing love is revealed through the cross, his sacrifice for our sins at Calvary and by the way He constantly gives himself to us in the Eucharist. And, with the Holy Spirit we are moved, taught and guided in our very personal lives on our journey to heaven. Together they represent the fullness of love.

 

Our lives should reflect the Trinity. We should always be creative like the Father, compassionate like his Son, and generously give our talents in the service of others through and like the Holy Spirit.

 

As we are God's creation, we are his beloved children. And his love will remain with us surrounding and sustaining us in all that we do and in all that we are.

 

May God's Holy Trinity continue to teach and guide our lives, as we continue to discover His ever-present love poured into our hearts through the Father and through the Son and through the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus said to his disciples, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

 

Blessings,

 

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

The Ascension of the Lord

We have journeyed together forty days from Easter and now we are heading for the Holy Spirit’s descent at Pentecost.  For many the feast of the Ascension of the Lord feels like a “farewell celebration” for Jesus, a farewell until we see Jesus again at the end of time.  Ascension is definitely not a farewell.  Far from being a farewell, what our feast actually does for us is to remind us that Jesus has become present to us in a new and more powerful way.  One way we might envision the ascension is by imagining that Jesus is saying good-bye and the Christ is saying hello. 

 The disciples, then and now, can no longer see Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified and has been raised from the dead, but the disciples can see the Christ into whom Jesus has been transformed.  He becomes present to all of us in spirit.  He had to return to the Father in order to change the way He could live in our midst.  The ascension of Jesus completes his mission on earth.  He came from God and now he returns to God.  We are commemorating the moment that Jesus handed the continuation of his great work over to us, the Church.  Jesus commissioned his disciples to baptize in his name, reminding them that he is always present through his Spirit.  He sent his disciples and us “into the whole world to proclaim the gospel” by the way we live.  Jesus is lifted up.  Yet he is not taken away.  He remains with us and will come again. 

 After Jesus’ ascension what are we to do?  Do we sit around and wait for something to happen or do we go and do something?  The ascension of Jesus reminds us that during our lives we are “only passing through” on this earth, as we say.  We are pilgrims on a journey.  Just as Jesus’ earthly life was temporary, and he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, so also our lives here are temporary, will come to an end, and we will meet God in the next life.  Jesus ascended into heaven, blessing His disciples and promising that they would soon receive the power of the Holy Spirit.  

 We who have received that promised gift of the Spirit 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.  As good stewards let’s sing praise to God in thanksgiving for His glory and rule in our lives!

 

Peace!

Deacon Modesto Cordero

Sixth Sunday of Easter Year B1

Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 30, 35, 44-48; 1John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17

Happy mother’s day! As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, the readings helps us to focus attention on God's universal love, expressed in Jesus Christ as our model for loving others as God has loved us. But for a moment let us focus on what a mother has in common with God. A mother goes long ways to ensure the security of her children and in fact even to risk her own life to save her children. There is a true story of a mom who was walking with her two-year-old daughter, when she suddenly made a quick decision to cross the train tracks, even after the warning bars had descended and the lights were flashing. Suddenly, the stroller was stuck and in her panic managed to push her daughter free, but she could not free herself and was hit by the train and died instantly.

 

I tell this story because it is a concrete example of what Jesus is teaching in the Gospel this Sunday. The focus is on our relationship to others in the same way that God in Christ relates to us. "As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” Just as a mother’s love is not about a feeling, but real love, so too God loves us with real love, and asks us to extend that same love to others. The mom in the story risked her life to the point of death. God in Christ does the same for us in Christ who risks His life to save us from our enemy within – sin. When Jesus commands us to “love one another, as I have loved you", He challenges us to be prepared even to die for others. We are invited here to reflect on the example of Christ who has loved us to the point of suffering and death on the cross for us. The ultimate expression of Jesus' love for us is the cross - the "greater love" which emanates from the Father. "Greater love than this no one has". For a mother to love her child is natural. To love others as Jesus did is indeed a far greater challenge for us. Jesus loves all without exception, without discrimination, without preference. He loves all to the point of death, death on the cross. To love others to the point of death is to be prepared to risk one's life for others; to give up one’s comfort for the sake of others; to detach oneself, and in all humility to empty oneself of pride; to let go so we may become totally for others. The example of Jesus leads us to die to self so that others may have life in its fullness. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings challenge us to love all people without exception just as Jesus does; 2) Like the mom in the story, we too must be prepared to lay down our lives; to risk for others; to speak on behalf of the poor; on behalf of those debt burdened, even when that might mean risking our lives, out of a greater love for others. 3) The only way we know that we remain in the love of Jesus is by loving others as Jesus has loved us to the point of dying on the cross for us. Think about it!

©2015 John S. Mbinda

 

 

Episcopal Visitation & Our Pastoral Plan

Our Four Top Priorities

The town hall meeting of February 21, 2015, helped us to identify and focus on four top priorities of our parish. Four core values of stewardship hospitality, prayer, formation and service, have inspired our parish community life profoundly. The feature of these four values flow into our four top priorities.

 

1. Community/Building & Facilities

Goal Statement: To build additional space/building, facilities in order to increase evangelization in our faith community; to better facilitate the needs of the community to evangelize, educate, serve and socialize. To realize this objective we plan to:

· Identify usage of current building space in order to determine what needs to be increased within the first 6 months.

· Increase non-assessed building fund by 25% within the first year.

· Assess our parish size and space requirements of our parish education ministries that include the Preschool, RE & RCIA.

· Move step by step on the points outlined in last week’s bulletin insert.

 

2. Youth & Young Adults (YYA)

Goal Statement: To welcome, recognize, and retain the youth & young adults in order to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person. We will do the following to realize this objective:

· Increase participation in YYA activities.

· Create programs that are age appropriate between July – December 2015.

· Designate the 6pm as the YYA led and oriented Mass.

· Provide homilies that are relevant toward YYA.

 

3. Mass/Worship

Goal Statement: To provide faith formation sessions to the faithful on the Mass and training of liturgical ministers in order to increase the understanding of the Mass leading to stronger spiritual and faith renewal experience during our worship; to improve the quality of preaching by simplifying the message and making a connection to our daily lives. We plan to achieve the following objectives:

· Reverence throughout the Mass by parishioners & ministers

· Increase parishioner participation at Eucharistic Adoration

· Evaluate the quality of our current sound system

· Centralize and coordinate sound system management.

 

4. Evangelization/Welcoming & Inviting

Goal Statement: To welcome and be available to everyone with all our heart and soul, from arrival in and departure from the parking lot, in order to witness to God’s aloha (love and welcome) to all people, in order: to increase the number of active parishioners, new parishioners and participation in Mass and church activities. We will achieve these objectives by:

· Welcome packages for new parishioners.

· Welcome letter, ministry brochure for new parishioners.

· Being more considerate of people with disabilities.

· Warm welcoming evangelization through group prayers.

 

Implementation of Goals and Objectives

To implement these objectives, I am calling to ministry a task force that will help the whole parish to ensure that we do what we have promised ourselves to do: to implement the four top priorities.  We will also implement the second tier of priorities as we go forward. The task force consists of persons who participated in the February 21 town hall focus study.

 

The implementation of our four top priorities will go nowhere if ministries in our parish remain disconnected. Communication, connecting, and meeting with each other is the key for better implementation. Our parish ministries under the model of the Church as communion can serve the parish more effectively if better organized into clustered advisory councils and commissions. The values in our parish vision/mission will become more alive through a network of ministries by which parishioners live out their faith more deeply. Each ministry contributes to the living out of our parish life as communion in Christ. At the center of our life is Jesus Christ, who gathers us as a parish community in the Eucharistic celebration daily and Sunday after Sunday.

 

The model of parish life as communion in Christ is expressed better in a leadership model wherein all ministries function at the service of the parish community in relation to Christ who gathers us at the Eucharistic celebration. In the bulletin insert, you will find a graphic that expresses the model of parish life and leadership. It shows the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) leadership model of our parish as communion, consisting of twelve chairs of advisory councils and commissions. The implementation of this model will begin on July 1, 2015. All commission chairs will be commissioned on the occasion of our parish leadership retreat, given by Fr. Gary Kastl, Friday evening/Saturday morning, June 12-13.

 

Msgr. John Mbinda, Pastor

 

 

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Alleluia, the Lord is risen. Jesus metaphorically speaks of his Father’s pruning us branches who are attached to the vine, who is Jesus. Just as God planted and tended the true vine, Jesus, so does God tend us- prune us- so that we, too, might “bear much fruit.” God prunes from us whatever does not give life and nourishes within us whatever does. Our remaining in Jesus, our bearing fruit as disciples, our believing in the Son and keeping the commandments are all work of the Father, who tends with great care the risen Life of Jesus within us. This act of remaining in Jesus is permanent and habitual. Jesus desires that you remain in Him so that you may be able to encounter anyone or anything and penetrate further still into these depths of our faith.

 

The pruning of which Jesus speaks is simply a means to an end. The end is the bearing of much fruit. To this end, Jesus’ word has a twofold purpose. On the one hand, his word is prophetic and prunes whatever drains life out of us his disciples. On the other, his word is the very sap of life that enables his disciples to remain in him and bear fruit. True discipleship is to “remain” in Jesus. Remaining in Jesus does not mean stagnant, staying put, not moving forward. Paradoxically it means growing, changing, and bearing fruit. We remain in Jesus through our gift of believing and living in love. It is necessary to remain united with Christ to produce the required fruits.

 

We see a good example of this in the call and ministry of Paul, who did not act on his own. Barnabas witnesses how the apostle Paul was “pruned” by his encounter with the risen Jesus, an encounter so intense that he was “pruned” from his old zealous hatred of the Christians and became a disciple himself, one who remained in Jesus. He did not live on the border line of the community, but tried by all means to enter in communion with his brothers in the faith and never gave up, even when he saw their distrust and suspicion. Paul’s behavior of courage and determination to their suspicion should be for us an example and a stimulus to accomplish what we resolved on the day of our baptism. To follow Christ we may have to give up some of our ways of thinking. Our friends, colleagues and relatives may wonder at our option.

 

The enemy within that prevents us from being pruned and bearing fruits is destroyed by swords of life. We fight and destroy the culture of death by building the culture of life through mastering our own weapons, the seven saintly swords: justice, courage, wisdom, temperance, faith, hope, and love. In the world of darkness, these virtues bring light. We are called to be light of the world. We are called to stand in the middle of the culture of lies and death and to live the truth through authentic Catholic lives. Now, more than ever, we need heroic Catholicism to transform every aspect of the current culture with outstanding witness that pricks the consciences of all to conversion. This will be affected by aspects of spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical sainthood which will bring transformation in the lives of the individuals.

 

Fr. Boniface Waema

 

Parochial Vicar

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Happy Easter!  Today’s Gospel is about the "Good Shepherd."  It gives us a chance to consider the "shepherds" in our lives and also those who consider us their “shepherds."  Every flock has a shepherd; they hear and recognize his voice.  The voice of a shepherd is one that provides safety and security.  Jesus refers to Himself as “the Good Shepherd.”  He is the leader of this flock, we call the Church; the shepherd that knows his sheep, that can call them by name.  Do you want to be a lamb in the flock of the Good Shepherd?  I hope your answer is a resound YES! Jesus laid down his life for us.  He protects us.  When he said, “I am the gate,” he literally meant it. 

 

A shepherd loves and protects each of his sheep from danger.  At night, when the sheep were safe in the sheepfold, the shepherd would lie across the opening.  He was the gate.  He protected the sheep.  He kept out the wolves and thieves who came to rob and steal.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” 

 

Today we are reminded that danger and death are always lurking near us.  We know that following Jesus will lead to insult, suffering, judgment, and the cross.  In many cases we find ourselves moving away from our Christian path, wandering away from our Shepherd.  We can pretend we don’t hear the familiar voice of the Good Shepherd and convince ourselves that the voice we do not know is a good voice.  We can be faithful to our commitments as husbands, wives, and friends or we can jeopardize these commitments because we listen to voices that call us to some very adult danger.  It is important, therefore, that we learn to recognize the voice ... that will bring us back to the real Shepherd in our lives.

 

There are times when we want to be lambs, cradled, protected, healed, brought back when we stray.  But there is nothing to compare to the reality of being a child of God now.  Hope you are having a joyful and blessed Eastertide! 

 

Deacon Modesto Cordero

Third Sunday of Easter

The readings for today are full of Easter excitement. Peter and John are heading for prayer in the temple of Jerusalem.  Each day a man who has been crippled is placed near the Beautiful Gate to beg from the people going to pray at the same temple. When Peter and John pass the man, he calls out for alms. They reply that they have neither silver nor gold, but the richness they do have, they share with the man. They raise him in the name of Jesus and the man stands up praising God and jumps for joy. The people come running to see this transformation and it is to them that Peter addresses words, which we hear in the First Reading.

 

The Gospel of Luke has its own Easter event. Two disciples had been taking their exit-walk from Jerusalem back to Emmaus. Jesus had met them, responded to their invitation to stay with them, and, while eating, was known to them in the “breaking of the bread”. Then Jesus vanishes, but their hearts were so filled with joy that they decided to return and reveal to the others what they had experienced.

 

What we hear in today’s Gospel is the rest of the story.  While the disciples are relating their being accompanied by Jesus, the very same Jesus appears in the midst of the group and extends “peace” to all.  Terrified and thinking they were seeing a ghost; the assembly has a real Easter dinner. Jesus, knowing their doubtfulness, invites them to touch His body and then asks for something to eat.  Luke is greatly aware that his Greek readers were skeptical about such a thing as rising from the dead. He inserts this part of the story to comfort such skeptics.  Jesus is offered some fish and eats it as a sign that He is truly Himself. Ghosts don’t have bodies nor do they eat.

 

Jesus extended a deep relationship to His disciples by surprising them with the mystery of His bodily resurrection, but did not explain how it happened.  They had, and we have, doubts and questions.  He continues calling us to take a leap of faith to continue on our journey.

 

What have we learned from these stories?  Jesus is alive and present to the world as God is.  The disciples recognized Jesus in their own transformation and experience it with a joy, which enabled them to proclaim the good news to all.

 

Last year in one of his homilies, Pope Francis said, “Christianity is not a school of ideas or a collection of beautiful temples and lovely art. It is a living people who follow Jesus and give witness to him every day.  The invitation and challenge from today’s readings is for us to be witnesses of Easter joy and peace to everyone we meet.

 

Easter Blessings,

Deacon Wally Mitsui

 

 

My Lord and My God

Easter is the season when we celebrate with even greater joy the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the gift of salvation that He won for us all.  Now, we have the opportunity to focus on our response to our Lord as a community of faith.

 

The Gospel reveals that after Jesus’ death the disciples felt frightened, gathered within a locked room filled with disappointment and uncertainty. The violent death of Jesus shattered their expectations, leaving them hopeless. They were left shocked, disorientated, and lost.

 

After His resurrection, Jesus came to His disciples to remind and challenge their faith to continue to be followers as one family in Christ. He came to forgive their weaknesses and transformed them into a community of faith.  He empowered them with His mission through the Holy Spirit proclaiming God's mercy of forgiveness and salvation. He granted the disciples the authority to forgive sins in His name. As witnesses of Jesus' Resurrection, they were the channel to the sacrament of Reconciliation, the sacrament of Divine Mercy: "For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained" (John 20:23). The Church will continue this wonderful work of God's mercy in her sacramental life and ministry today.

 

Because Thomas was absent when Jesus appeared to the other disciples, his doubt got the best of him. He demanded physical evidence to see Jesus in person, and when he did, Thomas responded, "My Lord and my God”. Jesus then showed Thomas His mercy with forgiveness and truth. 

 

Like the first group of disciples, we hold firmly that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Our faith must be lived out in our actions together. As in the Acts of the Apostles, "The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul" (Acts 4:32a). Let us be motivated by God’s love, His forgiveness, His open arms, and truly strive for the genuine concern of those people around us as one family and one community. Let this Easter season be filled with the Holy Spirit, empowering us to live a new life with Him and influencing others to say 'My Lord and my God’ in our very lives.

 

Peace Be With You,

 

Deacon Romeo Ganibe

The Resurrection Promises Victory

The readings give us four witnesses of the resurrection: Peter, Paul, Mary of Magdala and John. Proclamation and witness are therefore the two central themes running through today's readings. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter speaks about his own experience and shares that experience with the listening crowds. Because of his experience of knowing 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 advice that we keep focused on the risen Christ, since Christ is our life. For Paul, we know that his experience of the Risen Lord brought a total transformation in his life and gave him a total new vision of things and especially of the meaning of Jesus' life and message. In the Gospel, we have the experience of the empty tomb as a sign that Jesus is risen, He is not there. This first day of the week is full of emotions and commotion.

 

The discovery of the empty tomb by Mary of Magdala leads to her running back to tell Peter and John that the Lord's body is not in the tomb. That experience may have been very disappointing, but it was also a clear message that Christ is risen as he had said. John, who writes the Gospel, tells us that he entered into the empty tomb, “he saw and he believed”. He believed that the Lord is risen indeed.  As we rejoice in the resurrection, we need to be aware that Christ won the war over sin and death, but the war within each of us continues in the post-resurrection time as long as we are in this world. Christ has done his part. You and I need to know the enemy and free ourselves in readiness for the battle. The risen Lord is on our side and so we are not alone. How shall I fight such a battle, you may ask?

 

The parish is giving you some ammunition to arm yourself for battle. The parish is once again giving each household a special gift. The book you get today by John Wood is entitled “Ordinary Lives Extraordinary Mission”. In the coming Sundays, the clergy will help you during their homilies to understand each chapter and sharpen your weapons. Our mission is to win the war within. I have read this book and it has transformed my life. It will transform each of us in readiness for this battle. We are at war and Christ the resurrection promises victory. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed.  Happy Easter and may God bless each of you.

 

 

Msgr. John S. Mbinda, Pastor

Holy Thursday of the Lord's Supper

Readings: Ex 12:1-8,11-4; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15

 

A Model to follow; a model of service; bread broken and wine poured out for others. “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, so you should also do.” Tonight we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and the ministry through which the memorial of Christ is kept alive – the Priesthood. We celebrate the mystery of how we become “One Ohana” (family) in Christ through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and in the sharing of His Body and Blood. In the Gospel of John however, the emphasis in tonight’s celebration is on the ministry that makes the Holy Eucharist possible under the image of Christ the “servant” who washes the feet of others.

 

Rather than present the institution of the Eucharist, St. John Evangelist gives a commentary on the Eucharist – The Holy Mass in the form of Christ’s foot washing.  Tonight, Jesus first gives his final testament, then rises and washes the feet of his disciples.  He then concludes with “as I have done for you, so you should also do.”  Jesus stoops down from the height of his divinity and serves his own creatures.  He asks us to stoop down as well.  God comes to serve us, so we too may serve the least of society and care for the casualties of our society. Just as Christ becomes Food and Drink for us, we too become bread broken and wine poured out for others. On many occasions Pope Francis has shown us how we become food and drink for others.  When he washes the feet of others he symbolizes what his ministry as Pope is meant to be – “servant of all.” We too can do this by giving our time, talent and treasure: our energy, our love to those who count for nothing, those whose God-given dignity is still veiled and hidden to the eyes of the world.  We are called to reach out to the sick, the poor, the handicapped, the dying, the unborn, to those who are nobodies in the eyes of the world.  So often, our society treats them as slaves or as nothing.  Our sharing in the Eucharist is quite fruitless unless we become the bread broken and wine poured out for others. In the words of Mother Teresa, “we called to live simply so that others may simply live.” In so doing we become instruments of transforming people one at a time, leading them to be the best version of themselves.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis continues to show us what it means to stoop down like Christ. Yesterday, the Pope celebrated the Lord’s Supper at a detention center outside Rome. In all humility, Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve of these neglected prisoners (male and female), who never dreamt of having any attention in the world. That is what our stewardship must do for the least – to give them dignity, to give them more humanity and hope in this world. “As I have done for you, so you should also do.” This sets the stage for the Rite of the Washing of the Feet which is a powerful metaphor for the servant Church founded by Christ. This is what you and I must do if we are to be bread broken and wine poured out for others, as we symbolically wash the feet of others. A faithful steward is one who gives time, talent and treasure in the service of others so that they may have life in abundance, and so discover the best way to live. On this Holy Thursday, may we go at the end of the celebration and reflect more on the metaphor of foot washing in our lives. How do I wash the feet of others? How do we as parish ohana serve those in need in our midst and beyond? How do I as a member of a family wash the feet of other members of my family?

©2015 John S. Mbinda

Jesus Generously Gives up His Life for Us All

There are many facets and themes that can be drawn from Mark’s passion account.  It is filled with denials: Peter’s, the Apostles’, Pilate’s and Jesus’ accusers. Jesus, who came to his people riding a lowly animal, was welcomed with great admiration and feted in Jerusalem, after a few days crowned with thorns, not with gold, and beaten rather than worshipped.  He who would judge heaven and earth is judged and condemned by the very people He created.

 

Mark paints a vivid picture of the sufferings of Jesus.  At the same time, his passion account – even his whole gospel – rose to a crescendo in the centurion’s amazing proclamation of the faith, as he stood facing the crucified, dead Jesus. “Truly, this man was the son of God!” The one, both hailed and derided as King of the Jews and crucified, is finally revealed in His deepest identity as the “Son of God.” His mission is accomplished in the shedding of his blood. He gives his blood as the new fruit of the vine in which we all share each time we commemorate his saving mission.

 

During the last hours, Jesus was abandoned with only a few of the faithful people who stood by him.  Perhaps there were only four who remained close to his cross; Mary, his mother, John the Apostle, Mary Magdalene and the Roman Centurion. As Jesus carries His cross past us, he gives us a choice of the role each one wants to play. As we hear this passion proclaimed, where do we stand or what is our reaction to it?

 

Jesus went through all the humiliations and pain of the cross so that we could be reconciled with God and restore our dignity.  He, who is life itself, embraced suffering and death so that we could receive life eternally.  Despite rejection and insults from the leaders and crowds of people at time of His trial, He continued to love and forgive as He hung on the cross. Jesus never forgot His mission to save us all.  By his wounds, we were healed!

 

As we hear this passion account proclaimed, our call is to embrace, more fully, our baptismal commitment and to stand with Jesus to become one with Him so that our denials of Him, through weakness, become fewer, running from Him becomes less quick, and our faithfulness to follow and continue His mission becomes stronger. Rather than denying Jesus, we are called to steadfastly stand with Him. How are we called, especially during Lent, to empty ourselves like Jesus for the good of others? How have our reflections on global solidarity affected how we view poor and vulnerable people in our own communities? God reveals Himself through Jesus and in Him, He shows us His love. We are invited to reflect and meditate on the example of Jesus Christ, as we celebrate His greatest act of humiliation, namely death.

 

Fr. Boniface Waema

 

Parochial Vicar

"Everyone Who Lives and Believes in Me Will Never Die." John 11:26

In this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the readings talk about three different meanings of death.  For the prophet Ezekiel, death means to be in exile.  Ezekiel is not talking about physical death. He speaks of spiritual death, a death many of us might suffer from without even realizing it.  To Paul, death is to live in sin. In his letter to the Romans, he says that those of us who look at life on strictly human terms cannot please God. He is concerned about what motivates us, suggesting that only a person with God at the center truly lives.  Paul calls us to trust in the Lord.  Without that center and trust, we are just dry bones.  Putting our trust in the Lord is important for good stewardship.  Paul invites us to look at our lives from the perspective of Christ.

 

In the Gospel, we heard of the physical death of Lazarus. First of all, Lazarus’ death and being brought back to life previews for us Jesus’ own death and resurrection and our journey from death to life.  As amazing as the raising of Lazarus is, the full extent of Jesus’ power over death would be revealed only in his resurrection and in ours.  Secondly, the life that Jesus gives us is a life in which we never die at all.  Resurrection is not returning to live more of this life.  The raising of Lazarus from physical death to life is a demonstration of the power Jesus has to raise the dead to eternal life.

 

Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He promises “everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”  From each of these views of death (Ezekiel, Paul and the Gospel), God wants to bring us from death to life. We are invited to believe that death is truly a gift of God.  As good stewards, we believe all that we are and all that we have, including our lives, are true gifts from God.  So, death is the door, the way to our salvation.  We see the dying in our everyday lives through pain, sickness, suffering, death, sinfulness, self-emptying, discipline, and giving up our wills. 

 

The gospel challenges us to see and believe, equally, the signs of the grace of new life – glory, joy, peace, forgiveness, mercy, trust, and kindness.  Living the paschal mystery draws us to see these dying and risings as two aspects of the same mystery.  The “now” of eternal life is God’s grace already working in our lives.  This is why the dying is not what is important.  It is the rising to a new life what we need to focus on...and that is the gift!

 

Lenten Blessings,

 

Deacon Modesto Cordero

Christ Transforms Our Blindness Into 20/20 Vision!

Light and darkness, sight and blindness are the contrasting images that help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. The central message is that Christ heals our spiritual blindness in our Baptism and makes us witnesses of the truth. That is the meaning of the second Scrutiny celebrated this Sunday for those preparing for the Easter Sacraments. 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 and to follow him like the man born blind in the Gospel. 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 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 verse before the Gospel introduces the central point of our celebration. "I am the light of the world, anyone who follows me will have the light of life" (John 8:12). The entire liturgy therefore celebrates the mystery of Christ - the light of the world; the light that dispels the darkness of our minds and our hearts. We celebrate Christ who heals our spiritual blindness. The three readings therefore help us to see a sharp contrast between light and darkness; spiritual sight and spiritual blindness.

 

 In the first reading, Samuel struggles as if it were in darkness, trying to find a king, but can only succeed to find the young David when he begins to see as God sees. In the second reading, Paul reminds us that we were once darkness, but now because of our Baptism we are light in the Lord. We are therefore challenged to be children of the light, for the effects of the light are seen in goodness, in right living and in truth. The story of the man born blind in the Gospel is not so much about the man being healed, but about seeing as God sees. Here we meet a blind man with spiritual sight as compared to the intellectual Pharisees who are spiritually blind. The Gospel reminds us that our Baptism transforms us into disciples and stewards of Christ who embrace God’s vision, life, goodness and truth. Our Baptism commits us to be bearers of the truth 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. The passage leads to a controversy with the Pharisees who are in the darkness of their own prejudice, they refuse to recognize Jesus as the messiah; they refuse to acknowledge that Jesus has the power to heal the blind man.

 

The message we take home is threefold: 1) In baptism, Christ has healed our spiritual 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 by Jesus began to witness to Jesus Christ, we too are challenged to spread the light of Christ wherever we are, 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 Mbinda

 

Pastor

The Third Sunday of Lent

In the Gospel story this week we see three points that come to light. Our closeness to God transforms us rather than any effort of our own; a growing understanding of the Word of God will help us to change; and a listening heart will lead to an active love of one another.

 

The story of the meeting of the Samaritan woman and Jesus at the well is very significant.  In scripture a well was an essential part of desert living.  It signified life and refreshment in fact like all symbols it supplies endless material for reflection.  In the ancient scriptures some important marriages began at a well.  Moses met Zipporah at a well.  A bride was found for Isaac at a well.  Jacob first saw his beloved, Rachel, as she brought her flocks to be watered.

 

Jesus goes to the well and is seeking someone with whom he can share God’s vision.  The vision of a world longing to reach its potential, a world that recognizes that such a vision can be realized through responding to the graciousness of God.

 

As Jesus and the woman converse their relationship changes. They cease to be strangers. The Samaritan woman comes to the well without a flock but leaves as shepherd of the kingdom.

 

The women of the Jewish stories found love and a partner with whom to begin a family. The Samaritan woman finds a new way of loving and the ability to be a spiritual mother and founder of a Christian community.

 

Jesus promises the woman the water of life. This water is the grace of God which fills her so completely that she too can become a fountain overflowing and bringing life to others. By embracing the Word, she becomes an evangelist, a bearer of Good News to her kinsfolk.  Later they were able to tell her that they had become disciples.

 

St. Paul, who was also a bearer of Good News, compares the love of God to water poured out upon us.  As we sweat in the hot sun and watch the land crack, the grass wither, the image of rain covering the land is a powerful reminder of the renewing power of God’s love. God’s love as Paul says, is freely given to all.

 

The gift of Jesus’ fidelity to his mission is expressed through the virtue of endurance.  This is in total contrast to the complaints of those brought out of Egypt by Moses.  Instead of trusting the God who had freed them from slavery they complained about the lack of water and the discomforts of travel.

 

Even the gift of water from the rock did not soften the hardness of their hearts.  Paul says that the virtue of hope is the gift that, through Christ, keeps us going.

 

When people come to us seeking hope, let us be generous with the well of living water that we have received.

 

Lenten Blessings,

 

Deacon Wally Mitsui 

Second Sunday of Lent

Today’s readings asks us to remain faithful (like Abraham), to have courage (don’t be afraid) and to listen (listen to God’s Son). God’s command to listen to His beloved Son is also a command to change. Listening requires that we encounter Jesus, come to know who he is, and allow ourselves to be changed. Throughout our lives we have experienced change in many different ways. When we heard the words “I love you” for the first time, when we heard our first son or daughter calling us “Mama” or “Dada” for the first time, when we heard an inspiring musical piece for the first time... all those moments changed us! How we miss these moments if we do not stop long enough to really listen! What we hear can change us; but we need to change in order to hear. Are we ready to change? Are we ready to be transfigured? Lent is meant to be our time of transfiguration. We are transfigured – we are changed – when we take the time to listen to what God is saying to us through Jesus. In this second Sunday of Lent we are challenged to be transfigured like Christ. As we transfigure ourselves we need to remember that each of us shares in the divine life of Jesus. We are made in the image of God. No matter how rough, how unpolished, or how ordinary we may be... we, like Jesus, have divinity within us. So, we are called to act like Jesus did: when we reach out to others who are in need; when we forgive; visit a lonely, elderly person; or listen to a troubled teenager; or when we bite our tongue instead of saying sharp words. When we do these things, we ourselves experience a kind of transfiguration. We need to remember that our journey of faith involves struggle. During times of hardship, rather than despair, we are called as good Christian stewards to keep our faith and hope in the Lord and to give thanks for His blessings. Jesus speaks to us in our encounters and struggles with each other, in the ordinary events of every day, in our quiet times of prayer and reflection. But we cannot hear what he is saying to us if our lives are so frantic, so noisy, and so distracted that we never encounter him. In today’s Gospel, Peter, James, and John have a “mountain top” experience at Jesus’ transfiguration. God asks them to “Listen to Him.” As Christian stewards we are also called to listen to Jesus and His teachings. Finally, Richard Rohr has said, Suffering is ...the most efficient means of transformation, and God makes full use of it whenever God can.” The way of the cross does involve suffering, and as we transform to be like Christ, we will experience some of that suffering. We need to accept it and pray that our suffering here will earn us rewards later in heaven.

 

Lenten Blessings,

Deacon Modesto Cordero