A Letter from Father Albert

April 11, 2021

Greetings in the risen Christ,

This second Sunday of Easter is dedicated to the Divine Mercy of our Lord Jesus. Jesus revealed this to St. Faustina, which inspired the late St. Pope John Paul II to give Jesus’ Divine Mercy universal recognition and honor, to us and to the whole world. This is the other name of God’s love, a love seen through the lens of God’s compassion and forgiveness. Jesus is risen, and He has already conquered all obstacles that separate us from God’s love.

The emphasis of today’s Gospel message is the risen Lord appearing to the disciples while they are scared and hiding. The disciples share the news that Jesus has come and stood in their midst. Thomas, who is not with the other disciples when Jesus appears, is skeptical and says he will not believe until he sees with his own eyes. For the second time, Jesus appears, this time while Thomas is present, and Thomas worships the risen Jesus. The purpose of Jesus appearing to his disciples is to strengthen their faith, and to turn their doubts and fears into confidence and trust that He is the God of the living, who saves us from damnation caused by sins of unbelief.

Holy Family is dedicating all the Masses today, on the occasion of Divine Mercy Sunday, to those who have died in the past year, both from the coronavirus and from all other causes.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher

Divine Mercy/Second Sunday of Easter by Father Peter Chinnappan

EASTER II [B] (DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY) (4/11/2021)

(Acts 4:32-35, I John 5:1-6, John 20:19-31)

Introduction The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith, and our need for the forgiveness of our sins.  The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of everlasting Mercy.”  In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “His mercy endures forever!” God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, in sending His only begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord through His suffering, death and Resurrection.  Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments, instituted to sanctify us. 

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from Acts, stresses the corporal acts of mercy practiced by the early Christian community before the Jews and the Romans started persecuting them.  Practicing the sharing love, compassion and the mercy of God as Jesus taught, this witnessing community derived its strength from community prayer, “the Breaking of the Bread” and the apostles’ teaching at the worship service. The second reading:  taken from John’s  first Letter, deals with practicing both corporal and spiritual works of mercy by obeying God’s Old Testament commandments and focusing on Jesus’ commandment of loving others as He loves us, with selfless, sacrificial, agape love. Loving others as Jesus loves us also demands that we treat others with God’s mercy and compassion.  Today’s Gospel vividly reminds us of how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a sacrament of Divine Mercy.  The Risen Lord gave his apostles the power to forgive sins with the words, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:19-23).  Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28), the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed Divine mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.  

Life messages: 1) We need to accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy in our Christian lives: One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive and give thanks for Divine Mercy. But it is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment.  2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and that leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service.  The spiritual Fathers prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle:  a) First, we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible.  b) Next, we must strengthen our Faith through our personal and community prayer.  c) Third, we must share in the Divine Life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve.  Only then we put our love of God into action.”  

Homily anecdotes: #1:  Mercy during tragedy: The news is filled with illustrations of mercy—or the need for mercy—in our world. One of the most moving stories came to us on October 6, 2006, when an armed man entered an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He chased out the little boys and lined up the 10 little girls in front of the blackboard. He shot all of them and then killed himself. Five of the girls died. After the medics and police left, the families of the fallen came and carried their slain children home. They removed their bloody clothes and washed the bodies. They sat for a time and mourned their beloved children. After a while they walked to the home of the man who killed their children. They told his widow they forgave her husband for what he had done, and they consoled her for the loss of her spouse. They buried their anger before they buried their children. Amish Christians teach us that forgiveness is central. They believe in a real sense that God’s forgiveness of themselves depends on their extending forgiveness to other people. That’s what the mercy of God is all about. That mercy is why we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. (Rev. Alfred McBride, O.Praem: Catholic Update – March 2008).

 # 2: Divine Mercy in action: A TIME magazine issue in 1984 presented a startling cover. It pictured a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a blue turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and white running shoes. The older man was dressed in a white robe and had a white skullcap on his head. They sat facing one another, up-close and personal. They spoke quietly so as to keep others from hearing the conversation. The young man was Mehmet Ali Agca, the pope’s would-be assassin (he shot and wounded the Pope on May 13, 1981); the other man was Pope St. John Paul II, the intended victim. The Pope held the hand that had held the gun whose bullet had torn into the Pope’s body. This was a living icon of mercy. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him. At the end of their 20-minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the Pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly. When the Pope left the cell he said, “What we talked about must remain a secret between us. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.” This is an example of God’s Divine Mercy, the same Divine Mercy whose message St. Faustina witnessed.(http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0308.asp)

Easter by Father Peter Chinnappan

Introduction:   Significance of Easter: Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church for three reasons: 1) The Resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian Faith. It is the greatest of the miracles, for it proves that Jesus is God.  That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your Faith is in vain” (I Cor 15:14). “Jesus is Lord, He is risen!” (Rom 10:9), was the central theme of the kerygma (or “preaching”), of the apostles, because Jesus had prophesied His Resurrection as a sign of His Divinity:  The founder of no other religion has an empty tomb as Jesus has.  2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection.  Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in Me will live even though he dies” (Jn 11:25-26). 3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows, and tears.  It reminds us that life is worth living.  It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal as well as our communal prayer, strength to fight against temptations, and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.

Life Messages: 1) Let us live the lives of “Resurrection people”: Easter gives us the joyful message that we are a “Resurrection people.”  This means that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits, dangerous addictions, despair, discouragement, or doubts. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the living Presence of the Risen Lord in all the events of our lives and amid the boredom, suffering, pain, and tensions of our day-to-day life.  2) We need to live aware of the presence of the Risen Lord with us. Our awareness of the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord in and around us, and the strong conviction of our own coming resurrection, help us to control our thoughts, desires, words and behavior.  This salutary thought inspires us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure, and free from evil habits and addictions. Our conviction about the presence of the Risen Lord in our neighbors and in all those with whom we come into contact should encourage us to respect them, and to render them loving, humble and selfless service.

3) We need to radiate the Risen Lord all around us: We are called to be transparent Christians, showing others through our lives the love, mercy, compassion, and the spirit of self-sacrificing service lived by the Risen Jesus dwelling in our hearts.

4) We need to share in the power of the Risen Lord: Let us recall that, each time we try to practice Christian charity, mercy and forgiveness and each time we fight against temptations, we share in the Resurrection of Jesus. (L/21)

Good Friday Reflection by Father Peter Chinnippan

THE GOOD FRIDAY-2021: THE PARADOX OF DIVINE FOOLISHNESS

Paradoxes in Jesus Christ: A paradox may be defined as “A statement opposed to common sense, yet true in fact.” We observe four paradoxes in Jesus Christ. i)He came to the earth in order that we might go to Heaven. ii) He was born in the flesh that we might be born of the Spirit. iii) Christ accepted poverty so that we might be made rich. iv) He was rejected of men that we might be accepted by God.

Paradoxes in Christian Faith: We Christians believe in several paradoxes and ironies. 1- We believe that God had to become man to save man from the bondage of sin and eternal damnation. 2- We believe that was because God loved man so much (Jn 3:16). 3- We also believe that the best option for God to express His love for man was through the suffering and death of His Son. 4- We believe that Christ’s passion and death in a remote corner of the world has universal salvific effect on the entire human race. 5- (Rom 5:8,10):  According to St. Paul these paradoxes form the core of God’s ‘Foolishness.’

The paradox of living as fools for Christ: (I Cor. 4:10). To die for the sins of all mankind, knowing that man would never stop sinning, seems like the crazy act of a fool.  So, in a sense, Good Friday is “Fool's Day.”  You and I as Christians are indeed FOOLS for Christ.  "We are FOOLS for Christ's sake," (I Cor. 4:10) The Cross was “a scandal to the Jews and as FOLLY to the Greeks”, Saint Paul tells us in his epistle (I Cor. 1:23).  For a Divine Person to leave Heaven, come to earth, take on a human nature, and most of all to die willingly for the sins of mankind is FOOLISH in the eyes of the world.  The Romans and the Jewish leaders thought Jesus a Fool to ask people to "love your enemies," to "turn the other cheek," and to "forgive those who wrong you."  Throughout history, the followers of Christ have been labeled fools, from the martyrs who preferred to die rather than denounce their Faith, to the defenders of the right to life of the unborn.

Paradoxes of Good Friday: 1) On Good Friday, we remember the irony of how mortal man killed an immortal God. 2) Paradoxically, the main accusation leveled against God by His own “Chosen people” was blasphemy — God Incarnate, Jesus, claimed that he was God. 3) The paradox of a clean finish. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he meant our salvation, plain and simple. What was “finished” was the power of sin to control and rule our lives. 4) The paradox of the cross is that from a symbol of violence it was transformed into a  symbol of our salvation by Jesus’ dying on it. 5) The paradox of willingly carrying the cross and following Jesus, dying to ourselves. As saints and martyrs did, we choose to carry the cross of Jesus. 6) The paradox of accepting, rather than avoiding suffering:  Jesus chose suffering to save us and thus gave meaning to our suffering. 7) The paradox that we are the crucifiers of Christ by our sins and don’t admit it.

Life messages: We need to apply the paradox of the cross in our daily lives: that it is only by “dying to self,” or “losing oneself,” that one can “find oneself.” Through death alone, we find real Life. Accepting and bearing, instead of refusing, or cursing our crosses, we find they are loving gifts from God meant to make us stronger in Christian life and more dependent on God. When we willingly forgive, instead of harboring grudges for injuries, we are freed from death and enter Life.  Carrying our cross also means resisting that temptation to do what everybody else does, like not having sex before marriage and being faithful to your spouse after marriage. Cross-bearing means putting down the remote control and picking up one’s Bible, or praying when one would rather be sleeping. Carrying our cross means  asking God to help us “swallowing our pride,” get past our fear and just tell someone about Jesus. In sum, we bear our cross by doing what God wants us to do, instead of what we want to do. 

Introduction: A paradox may be defined as “A statement opposed to common sense, yet true in fact.” The cross of Christ is the greatest of all paradoxes. It was the most tragic event in the history of the world, yet the most wonderful thing that ever happened. It was the saddest spectacle man ever beheld, yet it was the most stunning defeat Satan ever suffered and the most glorious victory Christ ever won. He won by losing. He conquered by surrendering. The cross portrays man’s sinfulness and God’s holiness, human weakness, and divine strength. It demonstrates man’s inability to save himself, and God’s ability, power, and willingness to do this for him. The cross, from the human standpoint, is foolishness; yet it is a revelation of the highest wisdom of God. We observe four paradoxes in Jesus Christ. i)He came to the earth in order that we might go to Heaven. ii) He was born in the flesh that we might be born of the Spirit. iii) Christ accepted poverty so that we might be made rich. iv) He was rejected by men that we might be accepted by God.

Holy Thursday Reflection by Father Peter Chinnippan

Holy Thursday evening Mass (April 1)

(Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15)

Introduction: We celebrate three anniversaries on Holy Thursday: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass; 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy Mass, to convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners, and to preach the Good News of salvation; 3) the anniversary of Jesus’ promulgation of his new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). First, we remember how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover.  The Jewish Passover was, in fact, a joint celebration of two ancient thanksgiving celebrations.  The descendants of Abel, who were shepherds, used to lead their sheep from the winter pastures to the summer pastures after the sacrificial offering of a lamb to God.  They called this celebration the “Pass over.”   The descendants of Cain, who were farmers, held a harvest festival called the Massoth in which they offered unleavened bread to God as an act of thanksgiving.  The Passover feast of the Israelites (Ex 12:26-37) harmoniously combined these two feasts, in a ritual meal instituted by God, to be celebrated yearly, thanking Him for His miraculous liberation of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery, their exodus from Egypt, and their final arrival in the Promised Land.

Scripture lessons summarized:  In the first reading, God gives the Hebrews two instructions: prepare for the moment of liberation by a ritual meal and make a symbolic mark on your homes to exempt yourselves from the coming slaughter. In the second reading, Paul teaches that the celebration of the Lord’s Supper was an unbroken tradition from the very beginning of the Church, by which Christians reminded themselves of the death and Resurrection of Jesus.  Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the Eucharistic celebration. After washing the feet of his apostles and commanding them to do humble service for each other, Jesus concluded the Seder meal with its roasted Paschal lamb by giving his apostles his own body and blood under the appearances of bread and wine as spiritual food and drink.

Life Messages: 1) A challenge for humble service.  Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another, and revere Christ’s presence in other persons. In practical terms, that means we are to consider others’ needs to be as important as our own and to serve their needs, without expecting any reward.

2) A loving invitation for sacrificial sharing and self-giving love.  Let us imitate the self-giving model of Jesus who shares with us his own Body and Blood and who enriches us with his Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.  It is by sharing our blessings – our talents, time, health, and wealth – with others, that we become true disciples of Christ and obey his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

 3) An invitation to become Christ-bearers and Christ-conveyers: “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” really means, “Go in peace to love and serve one another.’’ We are to carry Jesus to our homes and places of work, conveying to others around us the love, mercy, forgiveness, and spirit of humble service of Christ whom we carry with us.

1. Why is the other side empty? Have you ever noticed that in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper everybody is on one side of the table? The other side is empty. “Why’s that?” someone asked the great artist. His answer was simple. “So that there may be plenty of room for us to join them.” Want to let Jesus do his thing on earth through you? Then pull up a chair and receive Him into your heart, especially in Holy Week (Fr. Jack Dorsel).

2.The Stole and the Towel is the title of a book, which sums up the message of the Italian bishop, Tony Bello, who died of cancer at the age of 58.  On Maundy Thursday of 1993, while on his deathbed, he dictated a pastoral letter to the priests of his diocese.  He called upon them to be bound by “the stole and the towel.”  The stole symbolizes union with Christ in the Eucharist, and the towel symbolizes union with humanity by service.  The priest is called upon to be united with the Lord in the Eucharist and with the people as their servant.  Today we celebrate the institution of both the Eucharist and the priesthood: the feast of “the stole and the towel,” the feast of love and service.

A Letter From Father Albert

March 28, 2021

Greetings in Christ,

This Sunday we are reflecting upon the Gospel account of Jesus’ entry into the city of Jerusalem. This is the goal of his mission – doing the will of the Father who sent him. In obedience to the Father’s will, Jesus is given the name foretold according to the prophet Isaiah as the “Suffering Servant”. He suffered for the salvation of all.

These are the major moments of Jesus’ passion that we recall all throughout this week: Jesus gathers his disciples together for His last Passover meal and there gives them his Eucharistic Body and Blood; Jesus agonizes over his coming death in the garden of Gethsemane; Jesus is arrested through the betrayal of Judas, one of his disciples; Jesus is hauled before the Sanhedrin, where he is examined and condemned; Jesus is put on trial before Pontius Pilate; Jesus is crucified, dies, and is buried.

Jesus humbles himself by refusing all aspects of power, glory, and domination. He refuses to deviate from God’s sacred plan. This is his mission, to lose his life so that he can gain real life. On the surface he looks weak, at the deeper level he is strong. Jesus reveals to us the power of God at the time of his death – by saving us all from the evil of sin.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher

Palm Sunday by Father Peter Chinnappan

PALM SUNDAY (March 28): Mk 11:1-10 (Blessing of Palms & Procession) Holy Mass:  Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Mk 14:1–15:47

Introduction: The Church celebrates this sixth Sunday of Lent as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. This is the time of year we stop to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. What we commemorate and relive during this week is not just Jesus’ dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in Jesus, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption.  Attentive participation in the Holy Week liturgy will deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith, and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. Today’s liturgy combines contrasting moments, one of glory, the other of suffering:  the royal welcome of Jesus in Jerusalem, and the drama of the trial, culminating in crucifixion, death, and burial for the Christ.

Are you a donkey with a Christian name only, or one carrying Christ? An interesting as well as challenging old fable tells of the colt that carried Jesus on Palm Sunday.  The colt thought that the reception was organized to honor him.  “I am a unique donkey!” this excited animal might have thought.   When he asked his mother if he could walk down the same street alone the next day and be honored again, his mother said, “No, you are nothing without Him who was riding you.”  Five days later, the colt saw a huge crowd of people in the street.  It was Good Friday, and the soldiers were taking Jesus to Calvary.  The colt could not resist the temptation of another royal reception.  Ignoring the warning of his mother, he ran to the street, but he had to flee for his life as soldiers chased him and people stoned him.  Thus, the colt finally learned the lesson that he was only a poor donkey without Jesus to ride on him.  As we enter Holy Week, today’s readings challenge us to examine our lives to see whether we carry Jesus within us and bear witness to Him through our living or are Christians in name only.

Scripture: Today’s first reading, the third of Isaiah’s four Servant Songs, like the other three, foreshadows Jesus’ own life and mission. The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 22), “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” plunges us into the heart of Christ’s Passion. The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of who Jesus is, and of how his mission saves us from sin and death. The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception Jesus received from his admirers, who paraded with him for a distance of two miles:  from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem. In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to/participate in a reading of the Passion of Christ according to Mark.  We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the Passion story – like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience as he condemned Jesus to death on the cross, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.

 Life messages: We need to answer 5 questions today: 1) Does Jesus weep over my sinful soul as he wept over Jerusalem at the beginning of his Palm Sunday procession? 2) Am I a barren fig tree?  God expects me to produce fruits of holiness, purity, justice, humility, obedience, charity, and forgiveness.  Do I? Or worse, do I continue to produce bitter fruits of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, jealousy and selfishness? 3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with his whip?  Jesus cannot tolerate the desecration of the temple of the Holy Spirit that I have become by my addiction to uncharitable, unjust, and impure thoughts words and deeds; nor does Jesus praise my business mentality or calculation of loss and gain in my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father.  4) Do I welcome Jesus into my heart?  Am I ready to surrender my life to him during this Holy Week and welcome him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Savior? Let us remember that we are all sinners who have crucified Jesus by our sins, but we are still able to turn to Jesus again to ask for pardon and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is through the Passion of Jesus we receive forgiveness: “through his wounds we are healed.” (Is 53:5).  5) Are we like the humble donkey that carried Jesus, bringing Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness, and sacrificial service to our families, places of work and communities by the way we live our lives?

A Letter from Father Albert

March 21, 2021

Greetings in Christ,

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus says, “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” He uses the imagery of a grain of wheat, saying, “Truly, truly I say to you unless the grain of wheat falls unto the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The “hour” that Jesus is taking about here is the hour of his death on the cross. At the same time, this is also the hour of his glorification and exultation. Without his death, there is no glorification. Jesus highlights this by describing the need for a grain of wheat, once it has fallen to the ground, to die, in order that it may ultimately produce fruit.

Jesus moves from the grain of wheat to reflecting on the fate of his disciples. Those who follow Jesus must be willing to do what he will do: lose his life in order to have eternal life. Jesus here clearly opens our eyes of faith to the destination of life’s journey – as believers we must die to this world to gain the next reality where He eternally reigns.

Please be reminded of the additional Confession hour this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Father Peter Chinnappan

LENT V [B] (3/21/21): Jer 31:31-34; Heb 5:7-9; Jn 12:20-33

Introduction: Today’s readings focus on the approaching death of Jesus which Paul considers a priestly sacrifice and John considers the moment of Jesus’ “exaltation” and “glorification.” The readings offer us a challenge.  Just as Jesus became the “Promised Messiah of Glory” and the “Conquering Son of Man” by offering his life for others, we, too, if we would come to Heaven, must die to self by loving obedience, spending our lives in self-giving, sacrificial service. 

Life messages: 1) Today’s Gospel teaches us that new life and eternal life are possible only by the death of the self through obedience, suffering and service. Salt gives its taste by dissolving in water.  A candle gives light by having its wick burned and its wax melted.  The oyster produces a priceless pearl by transforming a grain of sand through a long and painful process.  Loving parents sacrifice themselves so that their children can enjoy a better life than they themselves have had.  Let us pray that we may acquire this self-sacrificing spirit, especially during Lent.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah, explains how God   will replace the Old Covenant of Judgment with a New Covenant of Forgiveness of sins. This New or Renewed Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah was fulfilled, at least in part, through Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection.  In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Hebrews that it is by Jesus’ suffering and death, in obedience to his Father’s will, that Jesus established the New Covenant. Using metaphors of the “sown wheat grain” and the “spent life” in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the lessons St. Paul will repeat. The Gospel hints at the inner struggle of Jesus in accepting the cup of suffering to inaugurate the New and Eternal Covenant. However, Jesus accepts the cross as his “hour,” meaning the stepping-stone to his passion, death, Resurrection, and exaltation. Jesus also considers his “hour” as the way of glorifying his Heavenly Father and of being glorified by his Father. In addition, it is the way by which all people will be drawn into the saving action of God. Finally, the “lifting up” of Jesus on the cross and later into Heavenly glory by Resurrection and Ascension is the assurance of our own exaltation and glorification, provided we accept our crosses.

2) Only a life spent for others will be glorified, sometimes here in this world but always in Heaven. We know that the world owes everything to people who have spent their time and talents for God and for their fellow human beings.  Mother Teresa, for instance, gave up her comfortable teaching career, and with just 5 rupees (17 cents) in her pocket began her challenging life for the “poorest of the poor” in the crowded slums of Calcutta.  We see similar cases in the history of great saints, scientists, and benefactors of mankind in all walks of life. They chose to burn out rather than to rust out.  Examples are the Rockefeller Foundation for scientific progress and the Bill Gates Foundation for AIDS Research.  Let us, too, spend ourselves for others.

I made a difference for that one.” (Adapted and condensed from “The Star Thrower” – a story by Loren Eisley (1907-1977), from the book Unexpected Universe): One day, a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.  Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.  The surf is up, and the tide is going down.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”  After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said, “See, I made a difference for that one.”  “The Star Thrower” is a classic story of the power within each one of us to make a difference in the lives of others. – Today’s Gospel challenges us to make a difference in the lives of other people by our sacrificial service to those around us – in the family, in the workplace, and in a wider society.

A Letter from Father Albert

Greetings in Christ,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” There is an expression that God can write straight in a crooked line. Through the misunderstanding of Nicodemus, Jesus draws this opportunity to reveal the truth about “eternal life”. The humiliating death of Jesus on the cross is the lifting of him as the Son God. His crucifixion becomes saving action of Jesus for us to enter eternity. Our baptism into Christ is the time when we are born again from death to sin to new life in the risen Christ.

This Gospel reminds us by living our identity into Christ through our baptismal vows and promises. The indelible mark of Jesus’ presence in our soul is our guarantee to enter into God’s kingdom. This is the identity of God’s love for us.

Blessings,

Fr. Albert B. Becher