February 6, 2016

Sat 8am

St Paul Miki & Companions, Martyrs

 

1 Kings 3:4-13; Ps 119:9-14; Mark 6:30-34

 

            Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Paul Miki and 25 Companions, Martyrs in Nagasaki, Japan in 1597 who were crucified for the faith. These men of great faith were canonized in 1862 by Pope Pius IX. And they are now counted among the saints of the Church.

          In the 1st reading we hear the familiar story of King Solomon who at the time was just a young man. The scripture said “Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings.” Wow! A thousand offerings. That’s a lot even for a king! The scripture says he loved the Lord and he showed it by such a generous offering in gratitude…And what happened that night? The Lord spoke to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Now think for a minute, what would your answer be? Solomon, instead of asking for riches, for personal gain or for revenge, from his heart asked for wisdom. And because of that humility and selfless request the Lord did answer his prayer for wisdom but also blessed him beyond measure with riches and glory as the scripture said.

          The lesson for us in this 1st reading is that when we offer ourselves, and when we offer a portion of our treasure with gratitude and when we seek God’s will not for our gain but for the other…we will be blessed beyond measure also in many different ways. Not saying we will become rich in material things but we will become rich in things more valuable than material – peace, joy and contentment, things that are priceless.

          And in the Gospel Jesus shows us what self-giving is. Even though He and the Apostles were tired and needed rest, they ministered to the people with compassion…Seek God’s will in your life in every aspect, offer yourself as gift and offer your treasure and you will be blessed beyond measure with the priceless.

          Jesus says to all of us, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”  What will you ask of Him?

 

            

On the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time the common theme throughout the readings is that being a disciple of Christ and a messenger of the Gospel is met with opposition, back in biblical times as well as today.

 

In the first reading the Prophet Jeremiah, known as the man of sorrows because of the opposition against him, is told by the Lord God that “They will fight against you but not prevail over you.” The Lord God knew that the truth would be meet resistance so He told Jeremiah, “Gird your loins…I this day made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass.” In other words, God is with him and made him strong for the battle.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus, also known as a Man of Sorrows, is met with resistance. After preaching the truth the scripture said, “When the people heard this they were filled with fury.”

 

 

As disciples of Christ, preaching the truth by word and by deed will be met with opposition today as it was in the days of Jeremiah and Jesus. But it is Jesus who fortifies us for the battle and who makes us strong to continue in perseverance. St. Paul in the 2nd reading gives us the key to continue in the face of opposition: faith, hope and love. In these three virtues, we will prevail! 

On the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time we hear the readings the Word proclaimed and the Word fulfilled.

The first reading from the Book of Nehemiah was written during the period of time when the Israelite people had been set free from exile and many were back in their home country. The city buildings had to be rebuilt as well as the community. At the proper time Ezra the priest stood before the people of God, opened the scroll, and proclaimed from the book of the law. The scripture said “All the people listened attentively…for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.” In other words, the Word was proclaimed and received. The word touched hearts and minds so deeply that the people were profoundly affected by it. It was through the Word of God that the community was built back up.

In the Gospel, from the first chapter of Luke, we hear of the Word made flesh, Jesus the Christ. It is through this Word that the Christian community is built up. Luke tells of Jesus, the Word of God, unrolling the scroll in the temple and proclaiming from Isaiah the fulfillment of the Word of God in Himself and why He came, “To bring glad tidings to the poor, to set the captives free, and recovery of sight to the blind.”

In the second reading from St. Paul’s 1 Letter to the Corinthians, we hear that when we receive this Word we are all part of one body in Christ and have been given gifts for the benefit of the Body.  

The Word of God is power. But it is most effective when listened to attentively and put into practice. As disciples of the Christ, let us listen and act upon the Word of God, proclaimed at mass and in our own private devotions. Let it profoundly affect us and enable us. When we receive and act upon the Word, the Body is built up in Christ.

When we do this we experience the last verse of today’s Gospel, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The scripture is fulfilled in Christ and in His disciples – us!

 

 

January 9, 2016

Sat 8am

 

1 John 5:14-21; Ps 149; John 3:22-30

 

            If you noticed in the 1st reading from 1 John the word “know” K-N-O-W was mentioned several different times. The dictionary describes the word know “to believe to be true; to be confident in; to believe as fact.” In Christian terms, the word know means to believe that the Gospel and Jesus Christ are totally true and that we are sure and confident about them.

          The 1st know mentioned: “We know that He hears us in regard to whatever we ask.” In other words, as Catholic Christians, we are confident that there is no doubt that the Lord God does hear our prayers.

          The 2nd know mentioned: “We know that we belong to God.” We are confident that through Baptism in and through Christ, we are children of the Father, heirs to the Kingdom.

          The 3rd know mentioned: “We also know that the Son of God has come.” As we have just celebrated in the Christmas Season which concludes tomorrow, we are confident and believe to be true that the Messiah and Savior, Jesus Christ came 2000 plus years ago for the forgiveness of sin.

          The 4th know mentioned: “The Son of God has given us discernment to know the one true God.” In other words, Jesus has revealed the Father to us and helps us to know Him in intimate relationship.

          In and through Christ, we know that we know that these things are true. It’s not so much head knowledge as it is heart knowledge. The knowing of God starts out and continues first with an openness to the Savior Jesus Christ and remains strong by continuing to seek Him.

          In the Gospel as John the Baptist knew that the focus should not be on himself, the best man, but should be on Jesus the bridegroom as he said, He must increase, I must decrease.”…The more we know Jesus and place our confidence in Him, the more we will want the focus on Him.

          In Christian terms, the word know means to believe in your heart that the Gospel and Jesus Christ are totally true and we live our lives as testimony to this knowledge in love of God and love of neighbor.

 

 

This Sunday within the Season of Christmas the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word epiphany means manifestation or revelation. There are several manifestations of the Lord including: the Nativity, the Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord and the Wedding at Cana.

Today our focus is on the Epiphany of the Lord Jesus Christ, when the Savior of the world was revealed to the nations (non-Jews). It is an extremely important feast for us as Gentiles because with the Epiphany we as non-Jews are counted among the “chosen people of God.”

 

In the first reading the prophet Isaiah looks forward to the day when the Light of all lights would be revealed to the world and people from all nations would bow before Him to worship Him and offer gifts to Him.

 

In the second reading St. Paul proclaims with the revelation of the Messiah, Christ the Lord, “The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” In other words through the Good News of Jesus Christ the Kingdom is open to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

 

And in the Gospel passage when the magi found the King of kings they worshiped Him and offered their gifts. What an example for us as stewards of God’s gifts to offer a portion back to Him in worship and in thanksgiving of our time, our talents and our treasure.

 

As disciples of Christ, the Light of the world revealed to the nations, we rejoice in the words of Isaiah that have come to pass, “Rise up in splendor, your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you!”

 

The old saying is, “Wise men and women still seek Him.” Seek the Light and spread the Light as stewards of God’s grace. 

 

The Sunday after Christmas Day is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In the Gospel from Luke we see that even the Holy Family did not have it smooth all the time. The passage said when Jesus was about 12 years old they could not find Him until three days of searching for Him. But after that the scripture said, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He was obedient to them.” Family life is not always easy and is sometimes very difficult. But we as Christian families are to strive for holiness in the example of the Holy Family. We are to live in respect for each other and live selflessly for the good of the other.

The Feast of the Holy Family is an important feast for us. We have all grown up in a family whether it was whole and traditional or broken and dysfunctional.  This example of Mary and Joseph shows us what a family is supposed to be like which is obedient to the ways and will of God. God’s will for the family is that they look to Him for love, strength and sustenance and then turn to each other with that same love. God’s love is unconditional. Our love within the family must also be unconditional lifting each other up in prayer and charity.

 

It has been said and is true that the family that prays together stays together. The family that attends mass together and spends time with God together at Church and at home stays together. And just as important, the family that plays together stays together… The family is a sacrament (a sign) of the Trinity which is perfect relationship. The family is an important part of the foundation of the Church and of society. As disciples of Christ in the family of God let us promote, encourage and lift up the family… because as the family goes so goes the Church and society.     

December 20, 2015

4th Sunday of Advent

Sun 10am & 4:30pm

 

Micah 5:1-4a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45

 

            The new highly anticipated Star Wars movie came out this weekend. People all over the country are excited about it. But we as Catholic Christians have something infinitely more to be excited about: the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!

On this 4th and final Sunday of Advent, just a few days before Christmas we are asked to stop and to fully realize what we will be celebrating. In other words we need to put on the brakes, take a time out, as they say “Take a “chill pill”, or as Fr. Ken says in Spanish, “calma, calma.”

          So as we get ready to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ Jesus, the 2nd person of the Trinity becoming man, we must take a pause to fully realize the “ultimate gift” we have been offered and how truly blessed we are if we accept this gift…In the first reading the Prophet Micah lifted the spirits of the people of Israel who were in exile, who had been taken away from their homes into slavery. Micah foretold of the coming Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, who would be their Deliverer and their Shepherd. He would give them peace in the midst of chaos, a peace that they had not ever experienced before. In other words, the message of the coming Messiah gave them hope for a brighter future.

          In the second reading from Hebrews we hear of the fulfillment of the coming of the Messiah in Jesus and why He came: to offer His holy body as the final sacrifice necessary for the salvation of souls, fulfilling the will of the Father. The scripture said, “By this will we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” By this “ultimate gift” of the coming of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross, and by the acceptance of this gift we are blessed beyond measure: entrance into the Kingdom of God. Through Christ we are children of the Father and heirs to the Kingdom! This is the greatest gift ever given. In it is the greatest blessing ever bestowed.

          In the Gospel, we are taken to “The Visitation” (2nd Joyful Mystery of the Rosary) in which the newly pregnant Mary travels to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant, in her 6th month. The scripture said when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting she was “Filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice…How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth was so thankful and felt so blessed that Jesus the Savior was brought to her that she was overwhelmed with joy…When we truly realize the gift that we are given, the gift that we will be celebrating in just a few days, we should also be filled with a joy that cannot be contained….And another side effect of the gift of Christ besides joy is peace. (Have you ever seen the commercials where they advertise their product, maybe a medication that will cure you of some symptom but the side effects are way worse than the symptoms?!! Nausea, dizziness, bleeding through the ears, possibility you might go blind!)

          Well, the side effects in accepting the gift of Christ are all good…When we accept this gift of the Savior personally in our hearts and in our lives we receive His peace among the chaos of our lives. Like Micah foretold, with Jesus and because of Jesus, we experience a peace that we have not ever experienced before, a peace that passes all understanding. In other words, the Savior gives us hope for a brighter present and a brighter future…Now this doesn’t mean that everything will always be “smooth sailing” but there is a saying I have adopted from Catholic Radio, “Too blessed to be stressed.” In other words, with Jesus, the greatest gift ever given, we are too blessed to worry too much about anything. With Him we don’t have to stress out because with Him by our side and dwelling inside of us we can get through any difficult time in our lives. With Him we are positive thinkers. With Him we see the glass ½ full…because we are so blessed!...When people ask me how I am I respond “Too blessed to be stressed.” But it is one thing to say it but another to mean it and believe it!

          We are not only blessed with our salvation (if we continue in Him) and with joy and peace but we are also blessed in our everyday lives. Do we fully realize this? Do we know how blessed we are?...Think about this:

·        If you woke up this morning with more health than illness…you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

·        If you can attend church without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death (like many in the world today)…you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.

·        If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes in your closet, a roof over your head & a place to sleep…you are richer than 75% of the world.

·        If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet, and spare change somewhere…you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.

How blessed are we?!!

Let’s really put it in perspective…let’s take a personal and a home inventory (me included): Think…

·        Pairs of shoes?      Number of pairs of jeans?

·        Smart Phone?        Computer? Laptop?  I-Pad? I-Pod? Kindle?

·        Number of TVs in house?        

The point is, is that we are SOOO BLESSED in Christ. Even if we think we don’t have a lot, there are always others who have even less than we do. We must realize that we are blessed beyond measure in Christ and everything that He provides for us…And when we do realize this, we will be filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. We will be so thankful that it will automatically give us the desire to give of ourselves and to share our blessings…Look at Mary in the Gospel. After she received the message from the angel Gabriel, she traveled a long distance in rough terrain to the hill country to give of herself by helping her cousin Elizabeth. The scripture said, “Mary remained with her about 3 months.” So even though Mary was pregnant herself, because she felt so blessed by God, she desired to serve her cousin with joy. Who is your Elizabeth? There are plenty of them out there. They are right in your own family, they are here at church, they are in the poor and the less fortunate. Like Mary, when we know we are so blessed we will joyfully come to the aid of our neighbor to: feed the hungry (with food as well as satisfy their hunger for companionship and friendship); we will welcome the stranger (the one who seems alone or not welcomed by others); we will clothe the naked (with the sharing of our blessings); and we will visit those in prison (the ones who seem isolated and confined) Matt 25…As in the Stewardship prayer we recite at the beginning of every mass, “God my Creator, you made me all that I am and gave me all that I have. Help me show my gratitude by using these gifts to serve others in your name.” Gratitude is the key…when we are thankful for how blessed we are, we automatically desire to give of ourselves and to share our blessings in the name of Christ Jesus.

          So on this 4th and final Sunday of Advent, just a few days before Christmas we stop to fully realize what we will be celebrating which is the greatest gift ever given, the greatest blessing ever bestowed…If we accept this gift of Jesus Christ and remain in Him, we will be “Too blessed to be stressed!” Because with Him we have a bright present as well as hope for a bright future. Receive that hope, share that hope!

And I leave you with a twist on the Star Wars saying, “May the Force of Christ’s Spirit be with you!

 

            

The 3rd Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as “Gaudete Sunday” which is Latin for Rejoice. We rejoice because we are past the half way mark of Advent, closer to the great celebration of the Nativity of Christ the Lord.

In the 1st reading the Prophet Zephaniah exhorts the people of Israel to rejoice even though they are in a time of trial and distress. And the same message is for us today, “Shout for joy! Sing joyfully! The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst!”

In the 2nd reading St. Paul tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice!” Even if we are in a time of distress we have reason to rejoice at all times because we have the Lord with us.

And in the Gospel John the Baptist points us to our source of joy, “The one mightier than I.”

As disciples of Christ the Lord, even though things may not always be easy, we always have cause to rejoice because of Jesus the Christ. As disciples let us fill ourselves with the source of true joy as we draw ever closer to Christmas. And let us spread that joy to all we meet.

“Shout for joy! Sing joyfully! The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst!”

 

Maranatha!

Sunday November 29th 2015 is the 1st Sunday of Advent. The word advent means “coming” or “arrival”. The Season of Advent is a time of preparation to get us ready to celebrate the first coming or arrival of our Savior at His Nativity but also to help us be prepared for the 2nd coming of Christ at the end of time.

Advent is a Season of hope. In the 1st reading from the Prophet Jeremiah we hear of the hope of the first coming of the Messiah. Jeremiah was proclaiming this message of hope to a people under a very real threat of a conquering nation (Babylon). The prophet guides the people to look to their God who they can trust as He tells them Himself, “In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; He shall do what is right and just in the land.” Of course, we as Catholic Christians believe this promise was and is fulfilled by Jesus the Christ, the just and righteous one.

In the Gospel we hear Jesus prophecy of His 2nd coming at the end as He instructs us to be aware of the signs of the times, “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” In other words, Jesus is telling His disciples no matter what happens place your hope in me. I will not fail you or abandon you. But He also tells us it will not be easy and that we will need stay in prayer and be vigilant.

In the 2nd reading St. Paul tells the disciples of Christ how we are to live while waiting for the 2nd coming, “Increase and abound in love for one another and for all…to be blameless in holiness…at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Living prepared to celebrate His 1st coming as well as living prepared for His 2nd coming is living in Christian love and holiness united to the Savior Jesus Christ.

Advent is the beginning of a new Liturgical Year. Let it be a new beginning for us as disciples of Christ, pilgrims on the journey toward our heavenly home. Let Advent prepare us for our coming Savior, in whom we place our hope and trust.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

 

 

The Liturgical Year closes with the great feast of “Christ the King” proclaiming Jesus Christ as King of the Universe! This is a fitting end to the Church Year and all its different seasons.

In the first reading the prophet Daniel foresees the coming of the Son of Man, the Messiah. This Son of Man would receive dominion, glory, and His Kingship would last forever.

In the opening chapter from the Book of Revelation St. John tells us of the one who fulfilled this vision of Daniel. He tells us of Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, firstborn of the dead (resurrection) and ruler of all the kings of the earth, past, current and future. He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

And in the Gospel Pilate and Jesus have a verbal exchange with the result of Jesus revealing that His Kingdom is not of this world but of the next. Jesus proclaims that He came into the world to reveal the truth and “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to His voice.”

As disciples of Christ we are to listen to the voice of our King. We are to allow Him to be King of our hearts and of our lives. We are to be subject to Him in all things and look to Him to guide us, provide for us and protect us. But in union with Him we are to serve Him in others especially the poor and the less fortunate. When we serve others we are serving Christ. When we live the Gospel we have nothing to fear now or at the end of time.

Let us proclaim Christ the King in our personal lives and our lives in service as sheep of the shepherd King.

 

Cristo Rey!

November 15, 2015

33rd Sun Ord Time

Sun 8am & 10am

 

Daniel 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32

 

            This is the 2nd to the last Sunday of the Church Year, and as always at this time of year the Church has us focus on the 2nd Coming of Jesus and the end of time. The ominous first reading from the Prophet Daniel said, “At that time will be a time unsurpassed in distress since the nations began.” And in the Gospel Jesus said, “In those days after that tribulation…they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”…So on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being highest) how often do you think about the end of time? Not at all or not very often? Sometimes? All the time? The end is not something we should stress out about but it is definitely something we should think about and be concerned with because the end of time as we know it, as well as the end of our own time will eventually come. Sometimes sooner than we think like the victims in the tragic attacks in Paris a few days ago…All of us in world have an expiration date because we were not made for this world.

          I’m sure you have heard the term “bucket list” right? A bucket list is a list you want to accomplish before you “kick the bucket”. Let me share with you 3 items from my bucket list (no particular order): (1) I want to catch a foul ball at a professional baseball game. I have been to a lot of games but have never caught a baseball. Once we had tickets right behind home plate. I didn’t drink anything so I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom. But in the 7th inning I couldn’t hold it any longer. Sure enough the ball flew right over my seat! (2) I’m a big Notre Dame Football fan. I want to walk in to Notre Dame Stadium and see “Touchdown Jesus” from the stadium.

(3) I would like my wife and I to take a cruise to Alaska, to see all the beauty of the Northwest…These are just a few items on my bucket list. But these are temporal, these are things that will pass away with the end of time. They will vanish in thin air just like all the other material things that we accumulate. *What’s infinitely more important is the “spiritual bucket list” which I will call the “eternity list”.  This is the list that will go with us into eternity. These are the things that will cross over to the other side with us. This is the list we should be concerned about and focused on, these are the things that really matter. By living the “eternity list” we will always be ready for the end of time whenever it comes sooner or later

          So what is on the “eternity list”? This list is like a 3 legged stool that needs all 3 legs to stand. Only with all 3 legs will we live ready, will we live prepared. (1) The 1st leg that our eternity stands on is prayer. A life living prepared starts with an initial encounter with Christ and then a continual relationship with Him. Allow Jesus into your heart and mind daily through planned, scheduled, prayer as well as spontaneous prayer. Come to know Him more and more by meditating on His holy Word and allow Him to speak to you in the silence of your heart. Pray as an individual, pray as a married couple and pray within the family. Pray with the Church in Liturgy and in community. This is where a life living prepared starts and is sustained: constant communication with our God. Prayer enables us to live the other two legs of the stool. (2) The 2nd leg is service. Christian service is using our gifts of time and talent. It is self-offering as Jesus offered Himself on the cross of Calvary. It is following Christ as His disciple as He came “not to be served but to serve.”  Service is being Christ by thinking of and doing for others as He did. Jesus, at the Last Supper, put the apron around His waist and proceeded to wash the disciples’ feet. He did this to show us what He expects of us as His disciples. At Baptism we were configured to Christ as servant. Self-sacrificing service takes the focus off of ourselves and places it on the other. It is in service that we receive more than the one we are serving. In some grace-filled way it is we who receive authentic joy, peace and contentment in Christian service. (3) The 3rd leg that our eternity stands on is giving, the giving or sharing of our treasure.  This is a difficult one for a lot of people. And that is why Jesus teaches on it over and over again in the scriptures. Because He knows that if we hold on too tight to our treasure it is not we who own it but it is it that owns us! If it owns us we are slaves to it. Jesus calls us to share a prayed about portion of our blessings to set us free from this slavery. It is not that He needs us to give (He owns everything, He has no need of our treasure). He asks us to share because it is us who have the need to give, to set us free… When we offer our first fruits to God (not our left overs) it is a form of worship. Just as the Israelites were instructed to offer their first fruits from their harvest or from their livestock, to offer from their unblemished best, it was in worship to God. The same is true for us. When we willingly and joyfully offer from our best, from our first, it is in worship to our God, it is spiritual, it is holy, it is Eucharistic.  Giving is not a one-time thing or a sometime thing, it is a way of life. As God continues to give and bless, we continue to give and bless, every Sunday after Sunday as we bring our worship offerings forward to the altar. /As I mentioned, God doesn’t really need our treasure. But by giving a portion of it we learn to trust in Him, that He will provide all of our needs like the two poor widows in last week’s readings.  In reference to our new Church building: you know God could touch a billionaire to finance the whole thing (he could write a check on the spot!). Why doesn’t He do this? Because He allows us as a community to come together, to offer our blessings as one body, which in turn teaches us to trust in Him and it also binds us closer together as family in Christ. And it allows us to take pride in our community here at Resurrection, what we will accomplish together.  Like some of you, my wife and I have been actively pledging since 2006. With God’s grace we increased our initial pledge, finished that off, now we have started a new one. Giving is a way of life, a form of worship, it is spiritual, it is holy, it sets us free and teaches us to trust in God who provides all things. Giving is for our own good.

          These are the 3 legs of the “eternity list”: prayer, service and giving. It needs all 3 legs to stand. It will not stand if it does not have all 3. But the key to living all 3 is gratitude.  Our level of gratitude will always determine our level of generosity and how we live the “eternity list”. It depends on how much we realize and are grateful for what God has done for us and is doing for us. In the 2nd reading from Hebrews we heard of the one true sacrifice for our sins by the cross of Christ. When we are truly thankful for this priceless gift of salvation offered to us, it is then that we will live the eternity list with joyful enthusiasm. When we fully realize and are thankful for all that God provides for us every day of our lives, it is then that we will desire to live prayer, service and giving.

          So the question is, “If Jesus were to return today, would you be ready?” You see, there are two different outcomes. In the 1st reading from Daniel it said about the end, “Some shall live forever…shining brightly like the stars forever…but some shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.” And Jesus said in the Gospel, The Son of Man (Jesus) will send out the angels and gather His elect” (referring to the ones who live prepared). How we live the “spiritual bucket list” the “eternity list” will determine the outcome.

          When will the end come? Jesus said in the Gospel, “Of that day or hour, no one knows.” If we pray, serve and give, we will be ready!

 

          

On Sunday November 1st the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints and on Monday November 2nd the Solemnity of All Souls.

All Saints, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, was instituted by Pope Boniface IV in 615 and has been celebrated on November 1st since about A.D. 731 when Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica in honor of all saints especially those who have not been assigned a day in the Church Calendar.

All Souls Day is a day of solemn prayer for all the departed souls that was established by St. Odilo in A.D. 998. It was accepted by Rome in the 13th century.

These two great solemnities give us hope. In All Saints we honor all who have made it to heaven, those known and those unknown. We have the hope that if we also live as true disciples of Christ we too will be counted among the saints honored on this day. And it gives us hope knowing that we are not alone but we have those in heaven praying for us as we journey through this life as the pilgrim people of God.

All Souls gives us hope, the hope that by our prayers our loved ones, who may be in Purgatory, will be helped in their quest for heaven. And it gives us the hope that we too will be prayed for when we are in need.

As members of Christ’s Church, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, we are reminded by these two great feasts that we are part of the entire body of Christ: the Church on Earth (Militant), the Church in Purgatory (Suffering), and the Church in heaven (Triumphant). As we journey through this life let us always remember that this life is only a passing through and that we are citizens of heaven!

Strive to be saints on earth so that we will someday be saints in heaven!

 

 

October 31, 2015

Sat 8am

 

Romans 11:1-2A, 11-12, 25-29; Psalm 94; Luke 14:1, 7-11

 

            Our readings this morning once again teach us a lesson in humility. In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans we hear about how the chosen people of Israel rejected the offer of salvation and how it is now offered to the Gentiles (non-Jews). This is known as the plan of salvation, that all people be given a chance to accept eternal life. The lesson of humility is in the scripture from our 1st reading, “I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you will not become wise in your own estimation.” In other words, we as Gentiles must always remember that the Jews were 1st then the Gentiles. We must always remember we are very, very fortunate that the offer of salvation comes to us after the Jews, through Christ, that we are “grafted” into the chosen people of God. When we remember this it will help keep us humble, “not wise in our own estimation.”

          And in the Gospel the lesson in humility continues. Jesus tells the parable of the invited guests at a wedding banquet who “choose the places of honor at the table.” The wedding banquet in the scriptures represents the Kingdom of God which we are all invited to. Jesus warns us to stay humble in the Kingdom by not always wanting to be first. He teaches us to not think of ourselves better than anyone else, anyone in our own parish, or in any other church in the world. This is in imitation of Himself who lowered Himself before all.

          It has been said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” In other words, true humility is not walking around with your head lowered saying “Woe is me, look at me I’m humble” No, true humility is knowing that it is God who has accomplished everything through us and it is God who has raised us up.

          And the way we stay humble is living a life of gratitude, knowing that all blessings are from God and thanking Him every day for those blessings. When we live a life of gratitude we will remain humble in our thoughts, words and deeds.

          So I close with the words of Jesus at the end of today’s Gospel, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

            

Oct (17) 18, 2015

29th Sun Ord Time

Sat 4:30, Sun 4:30

 

Isaiah 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

 

            This Sunday’s readings and message are about Christian service & Christian sacrifice…There’s a story of a man leaving mass one Sunday as the priest was standing at the door greeting everyone and shaking hands. As the gentleman came by, the priest grabbed his hand and said to him, “You need to join the army of the Lord!” To which the gentleman replied, “I’m already in the army of the Lord.” The priest looked puzzled and said, “Then how come I don’t see you around Church serving?” The man replied, “Because I’m in the Secret Service.” We are all called to Christian service. Diaconia is the Greek word for service, which we get the word “deacon.” But not only deacons, all the Baptized are called as servants as followers of Christ.

The first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah Chapter 53, which is part of the section known as “The Suffering Servant.” In this reading we hear about an individual, called a servant, who according to the Lord’s will, would suffer and take on the guilt or the sins of many. This was written about 700 years before the birth of Christ but we as Catholic Christians see this as a prophecy that Jesus would fulfill when He took all sin on His holy body upon the cross. He accepted suffering and death as a servant of God for the good of others.

          In the second reading from Hebrews we hear about Jesus, the Son of God, serving as the high priest. In Old Testament times once a year the high priest alone would go into the Temple, into the Holy of Holies, and offer sacrifice on behalf of the people’s sins. He would offer the blood of bulls or goats. But the high priest would have to do this year after year, over and over. The scripture said Jesus is the great high priest meaning that He is the final, the last high priest ever needed. After His sacrifice on the cross no other blood sacrifice would be necessary. Because the blood that He offered was His own precious blood.   

This is the gift of all gifts, the priceless, immeasurable gift, offered by Christ the servant High Priest. Jesus took our sins on His holy body so we would have an opportunity for eternal life! He took our place on the cross, He took our shame and our guilt. But this priceless, tremendous gift requires a response…We are all offered this gift and we all have a choice: to accept it or to reject it. Jesus will not force Himself on us…If we reject His offer He will let us walk away, He will respect our free will. But if we choose to accept it, if we choose life, then we also choose to be His disciple. And as His disciple we are called to be a servant for the good of others just as He was. In Baptism we are configured to Christ in the common priesthood (to offer sacrifices as a priest), configured to Christ as a prophet (who spreads the Gospel by word and by deed), and as king (servant king as Christ was servant King). 

But this call to be servant and sacrifice was not easy for the disciples in the time of Jesus as it is not easy for us today. It is not easy because it is opposite of what the world thinks. The world tells us you are great if others serve you. But Jesus tells us true greatness is found when we serve others. In the Gospel Jesus had just finished teaching the disciples for the third time that His followers were called to imitate Him in service and in sacrifice but James and John request, “Grant that we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus’ response is, “You do not know what you are asking.” In other words, “I just told you that service and sacrifice are required of my disciples and you want places of honor!” When Jesus hung upon the cross in ultimate self-gift, what was to the right and to the left of Him? Crosses just like His! You see, just like the disciples in the Gospel, many people today do not get this concept and calling of true, authentic discipleship that includes servanthood and sacrifice. When we are baptized we are signed on the forehead with the sign of the cross, marking us for service in Christ. People wear a crucifix around their neck. Do they know what it stands for? That it means that I am a disciple of Christ, a servant for the good of others, dying to myself. This is what it means to be an authentic disciple of Christ.

When we come into relationship with the servant high priest, Jesus Christ, when we accept His gift on the cross daily we will naturally choose to serve as He served. Service is a sign in our lives of our love and thanksgiving for Him. We will look for opportunities to serve. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received gifts, use them to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” With Christ the Servant dwelling in us we will use our gifts, talents and blessings in service for the sake of others and for the Kingdom…A recent example: Last Saturday night the Knights of Columbus put on a very successful Columbus Day Spaghetti & Meatball dinner with over 300 people in attendance. This dinner didn’t just happen…it took planning meetings, and volunteers to serve as set-up, as cooks, as cashiers, as servers, and as clean-up. My brother Knights, their wives and children joyfully shared their time as servants for the good of others. All the proceeds are going to our new Church building and to Knights of Columbus charities. And the fellowship and community building was invaluable. This is one example of service in and through Christ bearing good fruit…In our everyday lives, as disciples of Christ, we should look for opportunities to serve as He served, in our homes, at work, and in our parish. At home we can treat our family members as if we are doing it for Jesus. We do things, little things, not expecting anything back in return. Maybe we clean up after others without complaining. Maybe we do chores that normally are done by the other. Maybe we do things out of the ordinary for the other as a pleasant surprise and as a blessing. My wife doesn’t ask me, but I make sure her car is clean and gets its regular maintenance, I fill her tank with gas (I don’t even think she knows she has a gas gauge). I do this because the love Jesus has placed inside of me for her comes out in loving service. The same is when we love our God, it will be manifested in loving service unto Him and His Church...At work we can show them the servant Christ by doing little things for people, by assisting them and blessing them in whatever way we can, all without being asked…And in our parish community we serve as Christ in ministry, we give of our time and talents inside mass and outside mass. Not because we have to or are forced to, but because we want to as Christ did. Configured to Christ as priests, we here at Resurrection offer a portion of our treasure in sacrifice to keep the daily needs of the Church provided for. And we offer a portion of our treasure in sacrifice for our new church building knowing that our sacrifice is helping build up the people of God, that it will draw more and more souls to God and to His Kingdom as a form of evangelization. Not all of us can give the same. We are not asked to. It is not equal giving but equal sacrifice…Guidance in Giving has been telling a story at the campaign receptions that illustrates this perfectly. On a previous campaign at another church there was a family that pledged some odd amount of $34.33 a month. This was so odd that they had to ask the family why this uneven amount? They said that they discussed it together and they prayed about it and that they would sacrifice their cable TV for 3 years and $34.33 was what their cable bill was every month. That amount means just a much in the eyes of God as someone who can afford to give $200 a month! Not equal giving, but equal sacrifice.   

When I see people serving in our parish in one way or another I always tell them what I seen on a Christian tee-shirt years ago, “Serving the Lord doesn’t pay much, but the pension plan is out of this world!” That’s true, we are serving not for this life but for the next…But that saying also is NOT true in a sense…We DO get paid a lot when we offer our lives in service and sacrifice: we receive joy only Jesus can give, we receive His peace that passes all understanding, and we receive contentment that can only be found in self-gift for the sake of others. Remember last week’s Gospel in reference to sacrifice, “You will receive a hundred times more now in this present age.” We do get blessed much in this life and still we have a pension plan that is out of this world!

Service is not always convenient and sometimes we just don’t feel like doing it. That’s when we need to call on the Lord for His grace and He will provide it.

 

And so in closing, we have been offered the priceless, unthinkable gift of eternal life won for us by the blood of Jesus Christ, the servant High Priest. If we choose to accept it, if we choose life, then we also choose to be His disciple. And as His disciple, configured to Him in Baptism, we are called to be servants for the good of others just as Christ who told us in the Gospel today, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” We are called to do no less. We are called to be not in the Secret Service, but servants for all the world to see for the glory of God! 

The readings on the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time speak to us about the wisdom of God. In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, which was not written by but attributed to King Solomon, we hear him pray for and choose wisdom over health, good looks and wealth.

 

In the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews we hear from where wisdom can be found, “Indeed the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”

 

And in the Gospel, the rich man turns away from the wisdom of Jesus because His teaching is difficult.

 

The wisdom of God is offered to us, through His word and through His Church. The question for us is, “Will we turn away from it or will we whole heartedly accept it and live it?” The wisdom of God does not make sense to the rest of the world but for us who seek it and accept it, in it we find the way to eternal life.

 

 

The scripture says “seek and you shall find.” If we seek God’s wisdom it will be given to us. It just depends on how much we desire it. Disciples of Christ, seek it, it is priceless!

The readings on the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time are about the covenant relationship of the Sacrament of Marriage. In the first reading from Genesis, which means “in the beginning”, we hear that God created marriage from the very beginning as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman. This relationship was to be between two equals as companions for life.

In the Gospel Jesus raises this relationship to a sacrament, “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” This covenant relationship is between the man and the woman but it has one more, God Himself. The marriage covenant is between three in the form of a triangle: God at the top point with the husband and wife on the bottom points as equals. The closer the husband and wife come to God the closer they move up the triangle to each other and their covenant relationship grows stronger.

The Gospel naturally flows into the subject of children. Marriage is for two reasons as per the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1601,”The matrimonial covenant…is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring…”Marriage is to be open to children, blessings from the Lord.

The 2nd reading from Hebrews ties it all together, “Jesus, for a little while, was made lower than the angels, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” Jesus is our example in all things and also in the Sacrament of Marriage, which is the sacrament of commitment but also of service. In marriage the husband and wife are to be Christ to each other, to “lower” themselves in loving service, to die to self. In this they become a sacrament, a sign of Christ’s love for His Church.

Traditional marriage today is under severe attack. The best way we can defend and promote traditional marriage is by living holy, sacramental marriages. God created it from the beginning then raised it to sacrament. Defend it, promote it, live it!

October 3, 2015
Sat 8 am

Bar 4:5-12, 27-29; Ps 69:33-37; Lk 10:17-24

Our first reading is from the Book of Baruch, who was the well-known secretary of the Prophet Jeremiah. Our reading is taken from the 4th Chapter of the book and the chapter is entitled “Jerusalem bewails and consoles her captive children.” This reflects on when the chosen people of God were held captive in exile in Babylon. Jerusalem is seen as the “mother of all the exiles” who mourns over her children. It was believed the people were in this predicament because of what we heard in the reading, “For you provoked your maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods. You forsook the Eternal God who nourished you.”

We as Christians see a parallel in the Blessed Mother or the Church that bewails over her children who have forsaken the one true God for false idols. All of us at times may fall into this category. But the Blessed Mother and the Church tells us the same that was told to the people in exile in Babylon, “Fear not, my children; call out to God! Turn now ten times the more to seek Him.” This is a message of hope! It’s a message we hear during Advent and Lent, but it is good to hear, good to be reminded any time of the year: that we must continually repent, turn away from false gods, turn our hearts back to the one true God who will always receive us with open arms!

The Psalm continues this message in the refrain, “The Lord listens to the poor.” - The poor in spirit, who totally turn to and cry out to the Lord God. The Psalm said, “See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive!” Those who seek and humble themselves before the Lord, those who turn to Him for mercy will be re-born again and again, will be made new!

And in the Gospel Jesus tells the 72 disciples who returned from mission, “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” In other words, God will do mighty things through those who are filled with His Spirit. But don’t rejoice in the works, rejoice because of His mercy that we are counted among His people.

God has revealed these things not to the wised of this world but to the childlike: the ones who are as innocent as a little child. As Jesus told the disciples He tells us, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” Rejoice because we have seen salvation in Jesus Christ! We have experienced His love and mercy! So we continue to turn our hearts back to Him as the scripture said, “Ten times the more!”

September 20, 2015
25th Sun Ordinary Time
Sunday 8am, 10am & 4:30pm

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Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Wisdom which was written only about a ½ century before the birth of Christ. It describes the thoughts and feelings of the people in the world at that time who were not living their faith and how they felt about the ones who did. We heard, “The wicked say: Let us beset (to attack or harass) the just one, because he is obnoxious to us…With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test…Let us condemn him to a shameful death.” We as Catholic Christians see this reading from Wisdom as a foreshadow or a prophecy of what was to be done to Jesus, the Just One, by the wicked or the unbelievers. In the Gospel, for the 2nd Sunday in a row, Jesus predicts His passion and death that would fulfill this prophecy in Wisdom, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill Him.”

But as always, as on every Sunday, we need to look deeper into the readings to reflect on what the message is for us today in our lives here in 2015. *The first reading from Wisdom portrays the world’s or earthly thinking versus heavenly or Godly thinking. And as always, the first reading prepares us for the Gospel. In today’s Gospel passage, right after Jesus taught the disciples for the 2nd time that He would be handed over, tortured and killed for the sake of others He finds them thinking and talking about earthly, selfish things. He asks them, “What were you arguing about?...They had been discussing among themselves who was the greatest.” You see, the disciples had been walking closely with Jesus as He taught them about heavenly things yet they were still thinking as the world or as unbelievers. They were arguing about who was better than who and who was higher than who. They failed to understand what Jesus was trying to tell them. They failed to connect being a disciple of Christ with suffering (as we heard in last week’s readings), servanthood, and self-denial following in His example. Jesus is teaching them about the necessity of self-denial and service and all they can think about is power and prestige (what’s in it for me)…*You can almost see Jesus stop in His tracks and rub His forehead thinking to Himself “These guys are not ready to be my disciples and to preach the Gospel!” He stops them right then and there and explains very plainly to them the basic principle of true Christian discipleship, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” *His point to them and to us is: greatness in the Kingdom of God is found in self-gift, and in humble service to others and to the Church. This is totally opposite of worldly thinking which is: more power, wealth, pleasure, more for me, live for the moment, move up the ladder. While, on the other hand, discipleship is humbly submitting to the will of God, it’s about service for the sake of others, it is about giving up status, it is about moving down the ladder as Christ showed us.

Bishop Robert Barron who was just ordained as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has a great example about climbing the ladder of success. He says “Some people work hard at climbing the ladder, striving after worldly success and material things, pleasure and comfort, thinking only of themselves. At the end they turn and see a different ladder, and they realize in horror that all of their life they were climbing the wrong ladder!” They were climbing the one that was temporary, finite, the one that would pass away. They failed to climb the one that leads to eternal life, the only one that matters.

So we ask ourselves, which ladder are we climbing? Do we think more like the world with selfish ambitions and desires as James talks about in the 2nd reading or is our thinking in line with Christ and His will?...Basically there are 3 types of people: (1) the unbeliever who denies the existence of God or who doesn’t care that He exists; (2) the true disciple who lives their life in the will of God, using their blessings of time, talent and treasure in service for others and the Kingdom; (3) the lukewarm, neither hot or cold, who have one foot on one side and the other foot on the other side, sometimes living as a believer but sometimes not…There’s a very good Christian movie that came out a few weeks ago called “War Room” (I highly encourage you to see it – homework!) About 40 of us from Resurrection went to see it on opening night. (Spoiler alert) – In the movie a young woman, who is a wife and a mother, and who is a real estate agent comes over to an elderly lady’s home who wants to sell her house. The elderly lady, whose name is Miss Clara, first wants to get to know the young woman so she bluntly asks her if she goes to Church. The young woman answers “Well yeah, most of the time.” Miss Clara raises her eyebrows then continues to probe about the young lady’s faith making her squirm in her chair. Then Miss Clara asks her if she would like a cup of coffee. The young lady says yes, so Miss Clara brings over a tray with 2 cups. She hands her guest a cup who takes a sip and almost spits it out and says, “This is lukewarm! It’s not hot at all. Is this how you like your coffee?!!” Miss Clara chuckles a little and says, “Mine is hot.” Then she quotes the scripture in Revelation, “The Lord says, I know your works, I know that you are neither cold nor hot…So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” *This is what we in the Church must be fully aware of, that we must NOT be only lukewarm, going through the motions, one foot in the world and one foot in the Church. We must be all-in for the Kingdom, in the way we think and in the way we live! We are called to live our lives to the best of our abilities with the grace we are given in humble service in the example of Christ. In Baptism we are made one with Christ who came to serve and not to be served. Each of us is challenged to respond to Jesus’ call by a life of discipleship in service, using our unique gifts and talents in the circumstances of our lives.

A true disciple, climbing the ladder that leads to eternal life lives life not with the thinking of the world but with the mind of Christ and the attitude of Christ. Three examples of worldly thinking vs heavenly thinking: (1) Worldly Thinking - My time is my time. I will spend it how I want, when I want, doing what I feel like doing, it’s my time…Godly thinking – God has blessed me with life itself and with each day. In joyful gratitude I offer a portion of my time to Him in prayer, in service in ministry, in helping where I can and volunteering. A great example of this is the 600 plus stewards (volunteers) that signed up to help with the Capital Campaign just recently. And also all the stewards who have given and continue to give of their time in all of the ministries in our faith community. (2) Worldly thinking – I know I have talents but I’ll just keep them to myself…Godly thinking – I will offer my God-given talents to use for His glory in whatever way I can. (3) Worldly thinking – I work hard for my money. My money is my money! Song by rapper Snoop Dog – “Laid back with my mind on my money and my money on my mind”...Godly thinking – The Lord has blessed me with everything I have and has given me my job and the ability to earn a living. In gratitude I joyfully offer a prayed about portion of my earnings each and every Sunday at the collection, I help the less-fortunate, and I offer my monthly pledge for the new Church, all for His glory and for the good of my brothers and sisters now and for the future. I know I can’t out give God. I trust in Him who provides all of my needs.

But how do we possibly do this in our humanness, when we have desires and passions that are selfish and self-serving, and when we want to be first and recognized by the world? Jesus tells us the secret in the Gospel: the innocence of a child. In other words, come to the Father who waits with open arms. Come to Him as an innocent child, who trusts in their father to provide their every need. Come to the Father and through His Spirit He will give you the mind and the attitude of Christ.

In closing, which ladder are we climbing? That depends on our way of thinking. Is it worldly thinking (Bishop Brom calls “stinkin thinkin”) or is it Godly thinking?...*Jesus stops us right now in our tracks and explains very plainly to us the basic principle of true Christian discipleship, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last and the servant of all.” This is complete opposite what the world tells us but it is the way to true greatness and to eternal life!

So His message for us this Sunday is: greatness is found in self-gift, and in humble service which is Godly, heavenly thinking, which is all-in for the Kingdom of God.

I got my mind on Jesus and Jesus on my mind!

Sept 12, 2015

Sat 8 am

Most Holy Name of Mary

 

1 Tim 1:15-17; Ps 113:1-7; Lk 6:43-49

 

            Today the Church celebrates the Most Holy Name of Mary. God the Father raised Mary in His plan of salvation and has given her name honor, a holy name, a maternal name. We worship the name of Jesus but we honor the name of Mary in her many titles.

          In our readings this morning we hear the simple but powerful proclamation of the Gospel and how we are to live once we have accepted it…In the 1st reading St. Paul gives it to us straight and direct, “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” It’s as simple as that! That’s why the Father sent His Son, because without Him there was or is no way to be saved from eternal damnation…St. Paul goes on to admit that he was the worst of sinners and through the mercy of God he has been redeemed. And that must be our first step, to admit that we are sinners and that we need the mercy of God received only through Jesus Christ.

          And once we have admitted our sinfulness and have received the mercy of God we live our lives proclaiming today’s Psalm, “Blessed be the name of the Lord both now and forever.” Once we have received his mercy, we live a life that glorifies God with joy in every aspect, everywhere we go: in our homes, at work, in our faith communities and out in the world. People should know there is something different about us. They should recognize it and when they do, they will want it.

          When people know that we are Catholic Christians, redeemed by the Savior, they are watching us. We are an ambassador for Christ and for the Gospel. That’s why Jesus said in today’s Gospel passage, “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.” That’s why we must always bear good fruit, in every situation in our lives. The only way we can do that is what Jesus told us this morning, “Build your house on the rock foundation of Christ, listen to His words and act on them.” In other words, stay connected to Jesus, the source of our faith, the strength that we need to be His ambassadors. Keep connected to Him in prayer, His Word, the sacraments and fellowship with other believers. If we do this we will be equipped to live a life proclaiming, “Blessed be the name of the Lord forever!”

          Mary, Queen of Heaven and earth, pray for us…

 

          

On the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time we hear in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah at a time when Israel was about to be invaded by the powerful and warlike empire of Assyria around 700 BC. As you can imagine the people of Israel were very frightened. But Isaiah proclaims, “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, He comes to save you…The eyes of the blind will be opened…streams will burst forth in the desert.” In other words, don’t be afraid, trust in God, He will come to you, He will be with you and He will bless you.

In the Gospel we see Jesus as the fulfillment of this prophecy. God does come, in Jesus, and He is with His people and He does open the eyes and ears of those who trust in Him.

The Gospel said Jesus entered the “district of the Decapolis” which was a Gentile (non-Jew) area. This marks a dramatic shift in Jesus’ public ministry. Up to this point He had ministered only to the people of Israel. Here He turns toward the Gentiles. This is highlighted in the 2nd reading from James, “Show no partiality as you adhere to the faith.” In other words, the Kingdom of God and all its blessings are open and available to all!

As disciples of this Jesus who came and still comes to all who are frightened, to all who need healing and comfort, we need to trust in Him, not be afraid and believe that He is with us in all our situations of life. And we need to bring others to Him as it said in today’s Gospel passage, “And people brought to Him a deaf man…and begged Him to lay His hand on him.”

 

Be strong (in Him), fear not because He is with you! 

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