Christ the King Sunday by Father Peter Chinnappan

CHRIST THE KING: Ez 34:11-12, 15-17; I Cor 15:20-26, 28; Mt 25:31-46

Introduction: Today’s Scripture Readings revolve around the Last Judgment scene of Jesus Christ coming in glory and power. It was Pope Pius XI who brought the Feast of Christ the King into the liturgy in 1925 to bring Christ as Ruler, and Christian values, back into lives of Christians, into society, and into politics. The Feast was also a reminder to the totalitarian governments of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin that Jesus Christ is the only Sovereign King.  Although Emperors and Kings now exist mostly in history books, we still honor Christ as the King of the Universe by enthroning Jesus in our hearts, surrendering our lives to God. This feast challenges us to see Christ the King in everyone, especially those whom our society considers the least important, and to treat each person with the same love, mercy, and compassion Jesus showed.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Prophet Ezekiel, introduces God as the Good Shepherd reminding us of Christ’s claim to be the Good-Shepherd-King, leading, feeding and protecting his sheep. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 23), we rejoice in Jesus, who is our Good Shepherd.  In the second reading, St. Paul presents Christ as the all-powerful Ruler-King Who raises the dead and to Whom every form of power and authority must eventually give way.

On His Majesty’s Service: Polycarp, the second century bishop of Smyrna, was arrested and brought before the Roman authorities. He was told if he cursed Christ, he would be released.  He replied, “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my King, Jesus Christ Who saved me?”  The Roman officer replied, “Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt.”  But Polycarp said, “You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly.  Do what you wish.”   

Today’s Gospel describes Christ the King coming in Heavenly glory to judge us, based on how we have shared our love and blessings with others through genuine acts of charity in our lives. Jesus is present to us now, not only as our Good Shepherd leading, feeding, and healing his sheep, but also as dwelling in those for whom we care.  In the parable of the separation of the sheep from the goats at the Last Judgment, every person to whom we give ourselves, “whether hungry, thirsty or a stranger, naked, sick or in prison,” is revealed to us as having been the risen Jesus.  Our reward or punishment depends on how we have recognized and treated this risen Jesus in the needy.

Life messages: 1) We need to recognize and appreciate Christ’s presence within us and surrender our lives to Christ’s rule: Since Christ, our King, lives in our hearts with the Holy Spirit and His Heavenly Father and fills our souls with His grace, we need to learn to surrender our lives to Him,  live in His Holy Presence, and do God’s will by sharing His forgiving love with others around us. Aware of His presence in the Bible, in the Sacraments, and in the worshipping community, we need to listen and talk to Him.

2) We need to learn to be servers: Since Christ was a Servant-King we are invited to be His loyal citizens by rendering humble service to others and by sharing Christ’s mercy and forgiveness with others. 3) We need to use our authority to support the rule of Jesus.  This feast is an invitation to all those who have power or authority in the public or the private realms to use it for Jesus by bearing witness to Him in the way we live. Parents are expected to use   their God-given authority to train their children in Christian ideals and in the ways of committed Christian living.

3) We need to accept Jesus Christ as the King of love. Jesus. who came to proclaim to all of us the Good News of God’s love and salvation, gave us His new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn 13:34), and demonstrated that love by dying for us sinners. We accept Jesus as our King of love when we love others as Jesus already loves us — unconditionally, sacrificially and with agape love.

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The King of Kings is a silent film directed by Cecil B. De Mille in 1927.  It is a religious movie about the last weeks of Jesus on earth, with H. B. Warner starring as Jesus. It was a production acclaimed by world-famed scholars, the press and the public in the U. S.  and abroad, as the most ambitious presentation of the final years of the life of Jesus ever pictured on the screen. It was seen by over a billion people all over the world. De Mille claimed that the most important tribute to the movie he had ever received came from a woman who had only a few days to live. Her nurse wheeled her to a hall in the hospital to see the movie. After viewing the whole movie, she wrote to the producer DeMille: “Thank you sir, thank you for your King of Kings. It has changed my expected death from a terror to a glorious anticipation.” She shared the feelings of the good thief who heard the promise of Jesus: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Both of them were suffering, both expected death and both received new hope from the dying King of kings for only he could give them what he promised because he is God, the King of kings and Lord of all.  –Today, as we celebrate the feast of Jesus, the King of kings, and as his Calvary sacrifice is re-presented on our altar, let us approach our Lord with repentant hearts and trusting Faith in his promise of eternal life. 

A Letter from Father Albert

November 22, 2020

Greetings in Christ,

We honor Jesus today as Christ the “King”; it is “Cristo Rey Sunday”. This is the famous story about the final judgement of all nations. The apocalyptic style portrays God as the Son of Man, as well as a King, making his passage suitable for today’s solemnity. However, rather than stressing the royal power of a king, the Gospel story stresses the corporal works of mercy, loving kindness, and love of neighbor, as qualities that the king requires for inheriting the kingdom of God. The final judgement brings all nations before the Son of Man’s throne. The judgement itself separates the nations into two categories: the sheep and the goats. The sheep represent a positive judgement, while the goats symbolize the negative ones.

The challenge of Christian discipleship is to see the love of Christ in the many faces of the needy. Serving those in need means serving Christ. A strong sense of humility enables us to see Christ in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, and those in prison. The real focus here is on the need – not on determining whether this person is or is not Christ. The kindness shown to the least person is done for Christ the King.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher

A Letter from Father Albert

November 15, 2020

Greetings in Christ,

Jesus gives us another parable or story to illustrate and emphasize the teaching of the kingdom of heaven, that he gives to his disciples. The point of the story here is that we shall be judged by God according to the use we make of the gifts He has given us. We can apply the teachings of the parable to our own lives – the distribution of talents by the businessman is God’s giving of gifts according to our capacity to handle them; his going abroad is the time given to us to manage our gifts at the given time for accountability; the businessman’s coming back is our time to face God at judgement day, considering how we managed His blessings for His kingdom.

The lesson we get from this parable is mainly about faithful stewardship of the blessings God has given to our life. How have we handled our time, talents, and treasures, all for the glory of God? This will be for all of us to answer for in front of God on judgement day, based on the attitudes of the three persons described in the Gospel today.

We continue to live as faithful stewards of the Lord’s blessings in our life, promoting his kingdom.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Father Peter Chinnappan

OT 33 [A] Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; I Thes 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30

Introduction: This penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year reminds us, not only of the end of the liturgical year, but also of the end of all things and of the preparations we need to make to reach Heaven.  The main theme of the three readings is an invitation to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us, so that at the hour of our death Our Lord will say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant!… Come and share the joy of your master” Matthew 25: 21). (+ a homily starter anecdote)

The Scripture readings: The first reading suggests that we should be as diligent and industrious as a loyal and faithful wife, in the use of our God-given gifts and talents with “the fear of the Lord.” Unlike the one-talent man, she takes her gifts and “brings forth good, not evil”; she “reaches her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy,” and she is a portrait of responsible readiness. Responsorial Psalm, Ps 128, the Psalmist echoes the concept of the blessedness of the faithful servant of the Lord. The Psalm affirms that the fear of the Lord is the key to human happiness and joy. In the second reading, Paul advises us as “children of the Light”  to “stay alert and sober,” living in such a way that we will be ready when Jesus does come, and will encourage and build each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.” 

The man who did not bury his talent: Antonio Stradivari was born in Cremona, Italy, in 1644.  Because Antonio’s voice was high and squeaky, he did not pass the audition for the Cremona Boys’ Choir.  When he took violin lessons, the neighbors persuaded his parents to make him stop.  Yet Antonio still wanted to make music.  His friends made fun of him because his only talent was wood carving.  When Antonio was 22, he became an apprentice to a well-known violinmaker, Nicholas Amati.  Under his master’s training Antonio’s knack for carving grew, and his hobby became his craft.  He started his own violin shop when he was 36.  He worked patiently and faithfully.  By the time he died at 93, he had built over 1,500 violins, each one bearing a label that read, “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno……”  (“Antonio Stradivarius of Cremona made in the year…”)  They are the most sought-after violins in the world and sell for more than $100,000 each.  Antonio couldn’t sing, or play, or preach, or teach, but he used the   ability he had, and his violins are still making beautiful music today.  Antonio is a challenge to people who have only a single talent and who try to bury the talent for fear of failure — like the lazy servant in Jesus’ parable.

Today’s Gospel asks us if we are using our talents and gifts primarily to serve God and doing everything, we can to carry out God’s will. The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive, constructive and life-affirming with our talents here and now.

Life messages: 1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities we have been given.   We may be especially talented in teaching children or cooking meals or repairing homes or programming computers.  So, we should ask ourselves how we are using our particular gifts in the service of our Christian community and the wider society. 

2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish. In addition to our homes and families, the best place to do this is in our parish.  This means that we should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the Church and in various ministries of our parish, such as Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, Lector, Usher, Sunday school teacher, singer in the choir, volunteer and member of one or more parish organizations and community outreach programs. 

3)We need to “trade” with our talent of Christian Faith: All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent namely, the gift of Faith. Our responsibility is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith, but to work with it. We need to promote and add value to Faith by living it out. The way to preserve the Faith, or any other talent that God has given us, is to put it to work.

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Anecdotes: 1) Chance-taking adventurous voyagers. Columbus trusted his maps and calculations, considered his risks and sailed off to India – only to encounter the “new world.”  Magellan based his charts and maps on the most current information then available, and boldly circumnavigated the globe.  A few centuries later in their search for a Northwest Passage, Lewis and Clark set off, crossed the entire North American continent, and explored the nation. All these explorers had at least one thing in common.  They all based their momentous journeys on maps that were mostly inaccurate, hopelessly flawed, or vastly mistaken.  Yet each of these adventurers went ahead, accepted the risks, plunged into unknown territories, mapped them, and changed the world.  It is precisely because of their risk-taking that the face of the planet was re-drawn, and the dreams of future generations were re-shaped.  Those without the vision, without the courage to take risks, are quick to label others as crazy, crackpots, fools, and failures.  In the parable of the talents this week, Jesus gives a stern warning — discipleship does not promise complete safety.  On the contrary, true disciples are called to take risks and venture beyond the known and the secure.

2) Play it safe: There is an old story about two farmers visiting over a fence in early Spring.  “Jake,” the first one said, “What are you going to plant this year, corn?”  “Nope,” Jake replied, “scared of the corn borer.”  “Well, what about potatoes?” his neighbor asked.  “Nope, too much danger of potato bugs,” announced Jake. The neighbor pressed on, “Well, then, what are you going to plant?” Jake answered, “Nothing! I’m going to play it safe.”   In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of a lazy servant, like Jake, who buried his talent instead of doing business with it.

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Father Peter Chinnappan

OT XXXII [A] (Nov 11): Wis 6:12-16; I Thes 4:13-18; Mt 25:1-13

Introduction: This Sunday’s readings bring the usual warnings about preparation for the end of our own world, the end of our own time and our passage to another world.  They tell us that a searching, watching, and growing heart is essential for a lively, dynamic Faith in God.  They challenge us to check whether we are ready for these events and how we are preparing for them.

Scripture lessons summarized: Since Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel has five well-prepared, wise women, the first reading chosen for today is one which personifies wisdom as a woman. The author advises Jews in Alexandria not to envy the wisdom of the pagan philosophers, because they themselves have true wisdom in their Sacred Scripture, a wisdom which regulates not only this life but the next also.  Hence, they must live their lives in strict conformity with the Divine wisdom given them so generously by God.  In the second reading, Paul offers Christian wisdom, assuring those Christians who expected Jesus’ second coming in their lifetime that the death and Resurrection of Jesus is powerful enough to save even those who die before Jesus’ second coming. But they need to be alert, well-prepared and vigilant.

“Be prepared” and “Don’t run out of gas.”: One thing that all Scouts, young and old, never forget is the Boy Scout Motto: “Be prepared.” If you have ever set up a tent and did not tie your lines securely, you know what happens when the wind and rain hits! A tent-collapse in the middle of the night is a rude awakening! Or, if you get a brand-new pair of hiking boots and do not properly break them in, then go on a ten-mile hike, it is pretty painful! You might forget bug-spray during mosquito season. Or if you bring a flashlight on a campout, but not extra batteries; that can make it somewhat challenging finding the latrine in the middle of the night! We sometimes learn the hard way to anticipate our needs. We need to plan ahead, before it is too late. It was not raining when Noah built the ark! Through the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus warns us to be ever prepared for the end of our lives.  How many of you have ever run out of gas? In most audiences, this would be nearly everyone. I cannot verify these statistics, so I caution you that they may be flawed. It would appear that every year at least a half million people call for help because they have run out of gas. Besides flat tires, dead batteries, and misplaced keys, running out of gas ranks right up there in the reasons why people call for roadside service. One might understand this happening a generation ago, when gas gauges were not entirely accurate, and when all the warning lights of our day were non-existent. But now we have warning messages that our fuel is running low (giving us perhaps an hour more of driving), and then additional, progressively urgent warnings indicating just how many estimated miles of driving we have left. One must say that most people who run out of fuel are “without excuse.”

 In the Gospel parable of the ten virgins, the foolish virgins represent the “Chosen People of God” who were waiting for the Messiah but were shut out from the messianic banquet because they were unprepared.  The parable teaches us that, like the five wise virgins, we should attend to duties of the present moment, preparing now, rather than waiting until it is too late. 

 Life messages: 1) We need to  be wise enough to remain ever prepared:  Wise Christians find Jesus in the most ordinary experiences of daily living — in the people they meet, the events that take place, and the situations in which they find themselves, and they carefully make their daily choices for God. They are ready to put the commandment of love into practice by showing kindness, mercy, and forgiveness.  2) Let us be sure that our Lamps are ready for the end of our lives: Spiritual readiness, preparation, and growth are the  result of intentional habits built into one’s life.  We cannot depend on a Sunday Mass or morning service to provide all our spiritual needs.  We cannot depend on Christian fellowship to provide us with spiritual development.  The meeting of spiritual needs and spiritual development itself come through routine, mundane attention to ordinary spiritual disciplines — making sure we have enough oil or spiritual fuel: oil of compassion and mercy, oil of patience, sympathy, and forgiveness.    We open ourselves to receive these graces by taking time for prayer, and being alone with God; by reading God’s Word; by living a sacramental life; by offering acts of service to others; by moral faithfulness, by loving obedience, and by spending time with other Christians for mutual prayer, study and encouragement. When we receive the graces we need, we thank God for His generous love.  As taking these ways becomes habitual, they cease to be a struggle and begin to be a source of strength and blessing.  They make our lives powerful against the onslaught of the world.

Anecdotes: 1) Forgetting the parachute:  In April 1988, the evening news reported the sad story of a photographer who was also a skydiver.  He had jumped from a plane along with several other skydivers and filmed the group as they individually dove out of the plane and opened their parachutes.  As the video was being shown of each member of the crew jumping out and then pulling their rip cord so that their parachute opened to the wind, the final skydiver opened his chute and then the picture went out of control.  The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without a parachute.  It was not until he reached for the ripcord that he realized he was in free fall, taking pictures without a parachute.  Tragically he was unprepared for the jump.  It did not matter how many times he had done it before or what skill he had.  By forgetting the parachute, he made a foolish and deadly mistake.  Nothing could save him, because his Faith was in a parachute which he had never taken the trouble to buckle on.  It is a story not unlike the parable which Jesus tells about the foolish bridesmaids forgetting to bring something very important and necessary. 

2) “What’s your purpose in life, Bob?” Josh McDowell tells about an executive “head-hunter” (recruiter) who goes out and hires corporation executives for large firms. This recruiter once told McDowell that when he gets an executive that he’s trying to hire for someone else, he likes to disarm him. “I offer him a drink,” said the recruiter, “take my coat off, then my vest, undo my tie, throw up my feet and talk about baseball, football, family, whatever, until he’s all relaxed. Then, when I think I’ve got him relaxed, I lean over, look him square in the eye and say, ‘What’s your purpose in life?’ It’s amazing,” said the recruiter, “how top executives fall apart at that question.” Then he told about interviewing one fellow recently. He had him all disarmed, had his feet up on his desk, talking about football. Then the recruiter leaned over and said, “What’s your purpose in life, Bob?” And the executive who was being recruited said, without blinking an eye, “To go to Heaven and take as many people with me as I can.” “For the first time in my career,” said the recruiter, “I was speechless.” [Stories For the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Books, 1996), p. 112.] No wonder — he had encountered someone who was really prepared! In today’s Gospel parable of the ten virgins Jesus warns us to be ever prepared to meet God our Creator at the end of our lives to give an account of how we have lived.

A Letter from Father Albert

November 8, 2020

Greetings in Christ,

Jesus speaks about the parable of the ten virgins, five of them foolish and five of them wise. All of them are waiting for the bridegroom to come. Therefore, they are all vigilant. What makes the five foolish is that they are not prepared. What makes the other five virgins wise is because they are prepared, no matter what happens. The point of this parable is not that the five foolish virgins are not vigilant, but that they are unprepared. Vigilance is not enough when one knows not the day nor the hour. Preparedness is always required.

These ten virgins in the parable represent all Christians. On receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, the Christian starts on the road to heaven. He gets his invitation to the heavenly nuptials, but this is only the beginning. From the moment he comes to reason, he is expected to prepare himself by living according to the law of God, for the great moment when the call will go forth, “Behold the bridegroom! Come to meet him.” This moment will be, first, at the hour of death for each individual when each one’s eternal fate will be decided, and second at the general judgement of humanity. During our lifetime we all are invited to the heavenly wedding, and all have the necessary means to get ready. But, like the foolish virgins, many will fail to make use of these means, and will realize their stupidity when it is too late. Sad, but true.

We live our faith in Jesus by doing good works every moment, both corporal and spiritual.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher

A Letter from Father Albert

Greetings in Christ,

We have a double celebration today, Sunday as the Day of our Lord, and All Saints Day, falling on the same date. The Lord is the original cause for our rejoicing, as he gives graces to all the saints who join Him in heaven. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, which all saints have now fully encountered.

The key phrase from the Gospel message today is “Blessed are you”. All the saints have now found the right place, fully enjoying God’s love in heaven. This is the final destiny for us all. God wants all of us to be saved, and to rejoice, united with Him forever. Saints are called “Blessed” because they have surpassed many trials on earth by their faith and trust in God. In the most difficult situations in life, in all life’s “tests”, they have triumphed by doing God’s will. Now, they are rewarded by God in heaven. Saints have a mission to pray for all of us through their intercessions. The saints, existing with God in heaven, pray for all of us, that one day we may be united with them as one family.

We do not pray to the saints. We pray to God. We acknowledge the saints as having been rewarded by God through their examples of faithfulness until the end. As we call every saint’s name, we say “pray for us”, asking for graces and favors we need, ones they now enjoy in God’s presence. Happy All Saints Day!

Tomorrow, Monday, at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m., we remember all suffering souls. These two masses begin our nine-day Novena prayers for All Souls Day.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher

All Saints Day by Father Peter Chinnappan

All Saints Day (Nov 1, 2019): Rv 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a


The feast and its objectives: All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is intended to honor the memory of countless unknown and uncanonized saints who have no feast days. Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. This feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man (I Tm 2:5). The Church reminds us today that God’s call for holiness is universal, that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness. We grow in holiness when we live wholesome lives of integrity, truth, justice, charity, mercy, and compassion, sharing our blessings with others. (* see anecdote)


Reasons why we honor the saints: 1- The saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip and to Timothy, he advises Christians to welcome, serve and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus. The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration of them. 2- The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy and unconditional forgiveness can, with the grace of God, be lived by ordinary people from all walks of life and at all times. 3 – The saints are our Heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4,). 4- The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Ex), the bones of the prophet Elisha (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts 19:12) and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work miracles.


Life messages:

1) We need to accept the challenge to become saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If he and she can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?). We all can become saints by choosing well by doing good and avoiding evil, by choosing to follow Christ, all the way to heaven

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2) We need to take the shortcuts practiced by three St. Teresas: i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Him ii) St. Therese of Lisieux: Convert every action into prayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of your ability. iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): Do ordinary things with great love. Do something beautiful for God.


Contacting extraterrestrials on All Saints Day: There is a branch of science called Astrobiology or Exobiology. Applying all modern branches of science, it studies the possibility of existence of living beings in other planets or stars and consequence of human contact with any of the terrestrial form of life. On July 16, 1969, the day Unites States sent Apollo 11 to moon with three astronauts, the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) passed a law concerning extraterrestrial contacts. Its title 14 in section 1211 stipulated that anyone who comes into contact with any form of extraterrestrial life should immediately report the matter to the federal Government and undergo a period of quarantine to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria or viruses or other dangerous pathogens on earth. The Law was withdrawn in 1991 because no such case was reported except in science fictions like Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain. But scientists have been sending signals into the cosmos, hoping for a response from some intelligent being on some distant planet. Only the Church has always maintained a dialogue with the inhabitants of another world — the saints – that is both possible and profitable. That is what we proclaim when we say the Creed, “I believe in … the Communion of Saints” and when we celebrate All Saints Day. Even if inhabitants outside of the solar system existed, communication with them would be impossible, because between the question and the answer, millions of years would pass. But in the case of saints, the answer is immediate because there is a common center of communication and encounter, and that is the risen Christ. (Adapted from Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, Vatican).


A pumpkin story: “What is it like to be a Christian saint?” “It is like being a Halloween pumpkin. God picks you from the field, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you by inviting you to confess your sins and seek reconciliation. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out the yucky stuff. He removes the pulp of impurity and injustice and seeds of doubt, hate, and greed from you. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light of holiness or Holy Spirit inside you to shine for the entire world to see by your serving and sharing love, mercy and forgiveness.” This is the Christian idea behind the carved pumpkins during the Halloween season.


* Diversity of Saints One thing that strikes you first about the Saints is their diversity. It would be very difficult to find one pattern of holiness, one way of following Christ. There is Thomas Aquinas, the towering intellectual, and John Vianney (the Curé d’Ars), who barely made it through the seminary. There is Vincent de Paul, a saint in the city, and there is Antony who found sanctity in the harshness and loneliness of the desert. There is Bernard kneeling on the hard stones of Clairvaux in penance for his sins, and there is Hildegard of Bingen singing and throwing flowers, madly in love with God. There is Albertus Magnus, the quirky scientist, half-philosopher and half-wizard, and there is Gerard Manley Hopkins, the gentle poet. There is Peter, the hard-nosed and no-nonsense fisherman, and there is Edith Stein, secretary to Edmund Husserl and colleague to Martin Heidegger, the most famous philosopher of the twentieth century. There is Joan of Arc, leading armies into war, and there is Francis of Assisi, the peacenik who would never hurt an animal. There is the grave and serious Jerome, and there is Philip Neri, whose spirituality was based on laughter. How do we explain this diversity? God is an artist, and artists love to change their styles. The saints are God’s masterpieces, and He never tires of painting them in different colors, different styles, and different compositions. What does this mean for us? It means we should not try to imitate any one Saint exactly. Look to them all, study their unique holiness, but then find that specific color God wants to bear through you. St. Catherine of Siena was right: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” (Bp. Robert Barren)

A Letter from Father Albert

Greetings in Christ,

Jesus is our great teacher of God’s commandments. After Jesus silences the Sadducees, the Pharisees come together. One of them, a lawyer, asks Jesus a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus gives the summary of the Law and the Prophets in the shortest way possible. It is love of God and love of neighbor, which correspond to each other. This answer from Jesus silences them because they realize the truth in his answer. This is the content of the Gospels: our love for God opens our heart to love our neighbor, who are the image and likeness of God. St. John supports this, saying, “anyone who says he loves God and hates his neighbor is a liar”. Jesus clarifies that loving God and loving our neighbor go hand in hand.

All ministries of our Holy Family parish are based on this teaching of Jesus. From all faith formation, which enlightens the values of the Gospel, to the ministry of our St. Vincent de Paul conference, are services to our neighbors in-need. I invite each one of you to join any ministry you feel Jesus is calling you to, in accordance with your time, talents, and treasures. God invites you to be generous in sharing your blessings and gifts for our church and school needs.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Father Peter Chinnappan

OT XXX [A] OT 30 [A] (Oct 25): Ex 22:20-26; I Thes 1:5c-10; Mt 22:34-40

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is the greatest commandment in the Bible, namely, to respond to God’s love for us by loving Him, and then to express that love in action by loving Him living in our neighbor. Our love for God is tested and put into practice by the way we love our neighbor.

The inspiring six-word sermon: There is a legend handed down from the early Church about John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. Of the twelve original apostles, only John lived to a ripe old age. In his later years, not only his body but also his eyesight and his mind began to fail him. Eventually, according to the legend, John’s mind had deteriorated to the point that he could only speak five words, one sentence, which he would repeat over and over. You can imagine the high regard in which the early Church must have held the last surviving apostle of Jesus. The legend says that every Lord’s Day, John would be carried into the midst of the congregation that had assembled for worship in the Church at Ephesus, where John spent the last years of his life. Total silence would fall over the congregation, even though they already knew what John was going to say. Then the old man would speak the words, “My little children, love one another.” Over and over, he would repeat them until he grew tired from talking, and no one yawned or looked at his watch or gazed off into space absentmindedly. They listened as John preached his five-word sermon over and over: “My little children, love one another.”

Scripture lessons:  The first reading, taken from Exodus explains the second greatest commandment, namely, loving one’s neighbors, especially the underprivileged.  The chosen people of Israel should remember that once they were aliens in the land of Egypt.  Just as God protected them and treated them kindly, so they are to protect others and treat them with kindness.  Thus, they should become a humane society rooted in the basic religious concept of loving God living in their neighbor. In the second reading, St. Paul congratulates the Thessalonians on the positive effects of their example of loving one another as Jesus had commanded them to do.  Their mutual love and their loving reception of Paul and response to his preaching has bolstered the Faith of Christians elsewhere who have heard about them. In the Gospel today, Jesus combines the commandment to love God with the commandment to love one’s neighbor and gives the result as the one Commandment of supreme importance in Christian life. Jesus underlines the principle that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves because, as God’s children, both of us bear God’s image, and to honor God’s image is to honor Him.  Love for our neighbor should not be a matter of feelings, but of deeds by which we share with others the unmerited love that God lavishes on us.

Life messages: 1) We need to love God:  Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, in response to His total love for us, means that we should place God’s will ahead of ours, seek the Lord’s will in all things and make it paramount in our lives.  There are several means by which we can express our love for God and our gratitude to Him for His blessings, acknowledging our total dependence on Him.  We must keep God’s Commandments, and offer daily prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and petition.  We also need to read and meditate on His word in the Bible and accept His invitation to join Him in the Mass and other liturgical functions. 2) We need to love our neighbor: God’s will is that we should love everyone, seeing Him in each of them.  Since every human being is the child of God and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, we are giving expression to our love of God by loving our neighbor as Jesus loves him or her.  This means we need to help, support, encourage, forgive, and pray for everyone without discrimination based on color, race, religion, gender, age, wealth, or social status. Forgiveness, too, is vital.  We love others by refusing to hold a grudge for a wrong done to us.  Even a rebuke can be given as an act of love if it is done with the right heart. We also express love through encouragement and by helping others to grow.  We express agápe love in meeting the needs of others by using the talents and blessings   that God has given us to comfort each other, to teach each other and to share the Gospel with each other, in deeds and in words. (L/20)

#2: “Christians love one another.”  In the second century AD, a non-Christian named Aristides wrote to the Emperor Hadrian about the Christians.  He said, “Christians love one another.  They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them.  If one of them has something, he gives freely to those who have nothing.  If they see a stranger, Christians take him home and are as happy as though he were a real brother.  They do not consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers through the Spirit, in God.  And if they hear that one of them is in jail or persecuted for professing the name of their Redeemer, they give him all he needs.  This is really a new kind of person.  There is something Divine in them.”  No wonder the non-Christians of the first century used tell one another, “See how these Christians love one another.”

#3: Love them anyway:In Calcutta, India, there is a children’s home named Shishu Bhavan (Children’s Home), founded by Mother Teresa. The home continues to be operated by her community, the Missionaries of Charity.  On the wall of the home hangs a sign which reads:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
LOVE THEM ANYWAY.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
DO GOOD ANYWAY.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
SUCCEED ANYWAY.
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow’
DO GOOD ANYWAY.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight.
BUILD ANYWAY.
People really need help but may attack you if you help them.
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.

Mother Teresa counsels her young charges that the challenges offered by this sign can be met only if human beings are motivated by a love and a respect for one another which looks beyond faults, differences, ulterior motives, success, and failure.  Mother Teresa once said of herself, “By blood and origin, I am all Albanian.  My citizenship is Indian.  I am a Catholic nun.  As to my calling, I belong to the whole world.  As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.”  (A Simple Path, Ballantine Books, New York: 1995).  It is this relationship of belonging and the loving service which grows out of that belonging which the Scriptural authors called Covenant. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez)