Monthly Archives: July 2015

Why Go to Church? by Deacon Ron

A serious question: Why go to church?  two fish

A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. ‘I’ve gone for 30 years now,’ he wrote, ‘and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time and the priests are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.’

My personal ANSWER:

‘I’ve been married for 47 years now.  In that time my wife has cooked some 44,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!

The first reading tells us how the prophet Elisha, Through God’s power, fed one hundred men with twenty barley loaves. The Fathers of the Church recognized this miraculous feeding by Elisha as a prototype of Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes.

The Psalm tells us: “The hand of the Lord feeds us; God answers all our needs.”

In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians and us that Jesus united the Jews and the Gentiles, bringing them together as Christians in one faith and one baptism. He urges them and us to keep this unity intact as one body and one spirit. If we become such a community, nobody will go hungry. We will meet the needs of people through our ministries and personal involvement. The miraculous feeding of the five thousand people by Jesus, with five barley loaves and two fish, is associated in Church tradition with the Holy Eucharist. And we who are nourished by receiving Jesus at Mass are challenged to be a provider and multiplier of bread for the poor.

We are to be the community that Paul describes. We are the ones called to feed the hungry today. One way we can do this at Holy Family is to support our Saint Vincent de Paul  ministry. They meet every Wednesday at 7 pm in the Family Life Center. Since they began at Holy Family in 2013 they have helped 1000 people. You can donate food and you can donate your time. And you can have a personal experience helping those in need…the poor … in our own community.

We see Jesus trying, in vain, to withdraw with His apostles from the crowds at Capernaum by sailing to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Four weeks ago, I was at the Sea of Galilee. The sea is beautiful. It is about 8 miles across. The Sea of Galilee has 64 square miles of surface area. Lake Tawakoni is 57 square miles; Texoma is 139 square miles.  I was there with our Holy Family parishioners who went on our Holy Land pilgrimage with Fr. Albert. Jesus performed miracles in the region around the sea, including the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor; Water into wine at the wedding at Cana; telling His disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat; Walking on the water and others…

They built a church in Tabgha located right on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5,000 of His followers.  It is called the Church of The Multiplication. We were scheduled to visit this church, but a few days before we arrived it was set on fire. On June 18, a fire consumed much of the interior of the monastery and destroyed the roof, leaving only charred remains of Bibles and other objects. The part of the church housing the rock where Jesus is said to have put the five loaves and two fish wasn’t damaged in the fire.

We should never take our faith and Church for granted. In many places it is difficult to live a Christian life, as there is much hatred and danger.

Jesus stepped ashore near a remote village called Bethsaida, where the River Jordan flows into the north end of the Sea of Galilee, and faced a large crowd of people who had pursued Him around the Sea on foot. Near the place where they had landed, there was a small grassy plain, and there He began to heal the sick among them and to teach them at length.

The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is found in all four gospels.  This is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that is told in all the gospels. The lesson for us is that, no matter how impossible our assignments may seem, with divine help they can be done. We may say, “I do not have enough money or talent to make any difference”.  But we need to remember that the small boy in the story had only five barley loaves and two dried fish. Like the small boy maybe we do not have a lot to give.

Perhaps our “fish” is not money, but a talent or an ability that God has given us. We all have something to give. If we have never trusted God with our time, or our talent, or our treasure…this is the time to start. This will be our two “tiny fish”. We offer ourselves and whatever we have to God saying, “Here is what I am and what I have Lord; use me; use it.” And He will bless us and bless our offering, amplifying it beyond our expectations. When we give what we have to God, and we ask Him to bless it then the miracle happens.

We, too, can perform wonders in our own time and place, by practicing   the four “Eucharistic verbs” of Jesus:

Take – take humbly and generously what God gives us,

Bless – bless…it by offering it to others in God’s love,

Break – breakit off from our own needs and interests for the sake of others,

Give – give…it away with joy-filled gratitude to God who has blessed us with so much.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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The World is in Need of Good Shepherds by Fr. Joel

shepherdIn the first reading of today, Jeremiah said, ‘’woe to the shepherd that mislead and scatter the sheep of my flock.’’ In the gospel, we saw how the twelve returned from mission and needed rest but the people would not let them rest because they were like sheep without a shepherd. They needed more from the apostle because they were helpless and troubled. That is what our world is going through today. Our world is helpless and troubled with all the things going on now. The world needs good shepherds now more than ever.

2000 years ago the people of God in Israel were ruled by the Romans with an iron fist. The Romans were so cruel to the Jews so much so that, in one day they crucified about 2000 Jews after a particular revolt. The Jews under this terrible rule were in search of a leader (messiah) who would deliver them from the hands of the Romans. Their own leaders failed them by collaborating with their oppressors.

Because of this reason, any time a charismatic person appeared, the people would flock to him with the hope that he would liberate them from their oppressors. They went to John the Baptist, but he told them he was not the messiah and pointed to Jesus as the messiah. And the people followed Jesus everywhere he went because they were like sheep without a shepherd. They were expecting Jesus to liberate them from the oppression of the Romans. Of course Jesus came to liberate people from the oppression of the devil. That was the mission of Jesus so that if they succeeded in getting rid of the devil in their lives, it would be easier to get rid of the Romans who were mere agents of the devil.

Today our world is going through the same kind of experiences like the people of Israel did 2000 years ago. Our leaders have failed us. We are being oppressed by leaders who do not believe in God. Our leaders are collaborating with our oppressor, the devil to humiliate our society. They are leading us away from the ways of God. They want us to go against God without minding the consequences. There are lots of evils being propagated and promoted in the name of civilization and modern time. Pope Saint Pius X says: ‘’for there is no true civilization without a moral civilization, and no true moral civilization without the true religion: it is a proven truth, a historic fact.’’ We have lost our moral values, true religion, and civilization; we have embraced a sinful way of life and we call it civilization. We lack manners, respect for human life, discipline and self-control; and we have become slaves to our passions and selfish desires. Our world is indeed blind and is being misled by ungodly people and ideas. We are being told to keep quiet and accept these evils in the name being nice and not wanting to offend anybody. Even our children and youth do not want to listen to parents and the church anymore. They say parents and the church are out of touch with modern times and civilization. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that, everyone today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents; parents have very little time for children and for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world. Because of the rights of a few who do not believe in God, the majority who believe in God are not free to express and practice their faith. What about the rights of those who believe in God?

In this present situation, we are like sheep without good shepherds. Religion that is the moral voice and conscience of society is being suppressed today. People want the church to conform to the world and people’s ideas instead of the world conforming to the teachings of the church, the word of God. In the prayer Jesus taught us, we often ask for the kingdom of God to come and for his will to be done in our lives. Yet we are doing things that are against His kingdom and will on earth. We as leaders have failed in our responsibilities to the world. Religious leaders, teachers, parents, and all adults have failed in their duties to lead the world in the right direction. We have been called like Jeremiah to be prophets and shepherds to the world. And prophets are the mouth piece of God to the society.

Do not forget we are going to be held responsible by God for the loss of souls to the devil. Parents will account for their children, for misleading them and not telling them the truth. Religious leaders and teachers will account for the flock and students entrusted to their care. All adults will give account of the little ones around us that we misled and refused to tell the truth. We must wake up from our sleep and be responsible leaders in our society. Tell the truth to our children, students, friends, and neighbors. We must always share with one another our experiences and teach our knowledge of God. Let us monitor, mentor and offer guidance to our children and youth as they use technology, play games, relate with others and as they live life generally or else they will be misled by bad people. Remember as prophets we are not loved by everyone because we tell the truth and the truth is bitter. Someone said that it is better to be slapped with the truth than to be kissed with lies.

SIXTHEEN SUNDAY 2015

Our Prophetic Mission to the World by Fr. Joel

mark 6In the Old Testament there were different types of prophets. Firstly, there were the professional prophets who were trained in the art and skill of prophesying. They were hired by those who needed their services, for instance, kings and high priests that could afford their salaries. Of course, ‘’he who pays the piper dictates the tune.’’ This class of prophets was careful to always prophesy only what their employers wanted to hear. If not they would be fired.

Secondly, is the type of prophets that were called by God, for instance, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, Ezekiel and many others. And since it is God that called and commissioned them, he dictates the tune of their messages. They say only what God wants and not what the people want to hear. That is why when they preach most people who were not doing the right things according God’s standard were always uncomfortable.

That was exactly what happened to Amos in the first reading of today. He was sent by God to prophesy to the people but his prophesy annoyed the leaders and people of that society, and they ordered him out of their territory. In the gospel Jesus is sending his disciples to preach the good news to people. However, he told them before time that they will experience opposition and rejection as they proclaimed his gospel to the world. He told them to be gentle as doves and wise as serpents because they will be like sheep among wolves in the world. We know that by virtue of our baptism, we have been commissioned to proclaim the gospel to the whole world too. ‘’ Go preach the good news and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’’ To carry out this mandate, we must be ready to face opposition and persecution.

The church is like a hospital were diseases are diagnose and treated. In the church, we are told about our sins and given the remedy to those sins namely, Jesus, who forgives and heals us. A good doctor will not hide your sickness from you, but he will tell you and offer you treatment so that you can get well. As Christians, we are like medical personnel working under Jesus, the great spiritual doctor who is capable of healing all kinds of diseases. Our job is to help one another diagnose our sicknesses and direct ourselves to the doctor/Jesus for treatment. If we hide our sicknesses from him, we are not helping ourselves because these sicknesses could kill us. The church is the instrument of God’s love and healing for all kinds of sicknesses. He told St. Paul in the second reading of last Sunday that his grace is sufficient to overcome all kind weaknesses. All that we need to do is to confess, do penance and our sins will be forgiven us. And then ask for the grace to be strong to overcome sins in our lives.

As prophets, we are to proclaim the gospel of Christ to all people, beginning with our family members. Tell them the truth because only the truth will save us. The truth may be bitter, but it is the only remedy for our salvation. However, you are free to refuse to accept the truth. When you refuse to accept it, be ready to face the consequences of your refusal. Like St. Paul would say, ‘’ the gospel, I must proclaim, and woe be to me if I do not proclaim the gospel of Christ.’’ This means proclaiming the gospel truth is mandatory for us Christians. And that if we refuse to proclaim it, there is punishment that awaits us.

Preaching the gospel is a difficult job given to us by God. Throughout history Christians have suffered persecution for their faith in Christ Jesus. Now is no exception. We are being opposed, challenged and denied the right to preach the gospel of Christ and practice our faith. Because of this, we are afraid to preach the gospel even to our children. If we do not teach our children and youth the truth of the gospel, the world will teach them the lies of the devil. If we do not teach our children how to love and respect life, they will be taught how to hate and destroy life by society. If we do not teach children about family and community life, society will teach them selfishness and individualism. If you do not teach your children how to relate with human beings, society will teach them to relate with images and shadows in the internet. Society today, tells us that happiness is about success, being wealthy, and doing what you want. For these reasons, we have been competing with one another for success, material things, and our selfish interest. God has been removed from our daily lives. The truth is, true happiness is only when you have God in your life. I urge you not to allow society to tell you how to live your life; do not let the media tell you what you are supposed to do. Decide how to live your life as a Christian by allowing God to guide you. The Bible is our guide. That is the only way true happiness is guaranteed, because true joy comes when you know God and have a personal relationship with him. Wealth, success and pleasure without God lead to emptiness and misery. When you learn how to die, then you know how to live. Only when you learn how to carry the cross, then you will be happy and receive the crown of glory. The world only pretends to tell us how to live and be happy, but in essence the world is teaching us how to destroy ourselves. You better be wise now before it is too late.

We are call upon today to reach out to people and preach the gospel of Christ to them. The way we live our lives as Christians is the most powerful way to preach the gospel. The love of God and of our neighbors is our guiding principle as Christians. Therefore, speak and live out love and the world will be a lovely place to be. Do this at home, mall, grocery store, gas station, restaurant, office, salon, and everywhere you find yourself. Do not be afraid and shy to proclaim the gospel to others. And remember that we shall be judged on the last by the scriptures and how we used our free will and not by human laws.

FIFTHEEN SUNDAY, 2015 

Where is the World Heading to?

in-god-we-trust coin  In our first reading today, we are told Ezekiel was sent to the people of Israel who had rebelled against God to let them know there was a prophet among them. In the second reading St. Paul was assured of sufficient grace to overcome his weaknesses in his effort to preach and live out the gospel of Christ. In the gospel, we saw how Jesus was rejected by his own people because he told them the truth. Many of us have rebelled against God by committing sin. Some of us have rejected the words of the prophets sent to us by God to teach us about the truth. Our world today is going against God’s teaching. Instead of asking for God’s sufficient grace to help us overcome our weaknesses, we are asking for approval of our weaknesses.

Please do not get me wrong. I want to express and teach what we believe as Christians. And to explain the response of the Bishops as regards the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage. The church is not in any way attacking anyone or rejecting anybody but just proclaiming what we believe and teach. The Church loves and welcomes everyone and at the same time has the mandate to teach us how to live according to the standard of God given us in the Bible. What we believe and teach comes from the Bible, the word of God. The Bible is the word of God and not the word of human beings, and so no people or government has the power to change it. The Bishops in their response said that the same constitution that has legalized same sex marriages protects the church’s right to carry on with her historic teaching regarding marriage as a sacrament and between a man and a woman.

In May this year, Ireland voted for same sex marriage, in June this year, the US Supreme Court voted for same sex marriage. I also read from the internet that adultery has been legalized in South Africa, that in Germany, their National Ethics Council has called for an end to criminalization of incest between siblings after examining the case of a man who had four children with his sister, and that in Japan, the court rules that adultery is ok if it’s for business purpose. Furthermore, I read somewhere that some people are also claiming right that, relationships between adults and minors should be legalized; and marriage between humans and animal should be legalized because that is their own sexual orientation too. Where is the world heading to for God sake?

Surely, the devil is at work and he is succeeding quite fast in turning things around in his favor. If God and the devil were to stand in for an election in the world today, God will lose the election to the devil because he has more followers. We see moral cases that have been known for ages to be sinful are being accepted and declared legal in our society today. People are now rejecting the natural way God design things to be and are now accepting what is unnatural. Someone said that there are no gay genes and that God created Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve. Another person said that even the devil who is the king of all evils was attracted to the nakedness of Eve and not Adam. How come you were born that way? When no one in your family was like that all these years, until now. I think after redefining marriage, the next thing to do is to redesign the human body parts to enable same sex couples to be able to give birth to their own children without adoption. Because, adoption of children by same sex couples, is denying those children the right to grow and benefit from the natural family of man and woman. We are only thinking of our own rights as adults, what about the children’s rights. We kill some of them in the womb in the name of choice, now we are denying them the right to a natural family and giving them wrong sexual orientation all for our selfish interest. We call the attitudes of Islamic extremists and dictators barbaric but we call gay relationship civilization.

All of these changes are done in the name of modernism and civilization. God is older than time itself and he is the same at all times and civilizations. Whatever was wrong in the past is still and will remain wrong forever. Whatever is sin is always sin no matter what you call it. The Bible forbids all kinds of evil including: Adultery, stealing, killing, cheating, false witnessing, injustice, incest, same sex relationship and many others. Remember legality is not the same as morality. Slavery is evil even though it was legal, abortion and euthanasia are evils even though they are legal, and same sex union is morally wrong even though it has been legalized. According to the standard of God in the Bible, all these are evil. The Church does not condemn anyone, but she calls all of us to repentance of our sins. The Church has no right or power to change anything in the Bible because it is God’s word. Christianity is not democracy where you vote for what you want and the majority wins.

The founding fathers of this nation said it is a nation created under God. In our currency, it is written, ‘’in God we trust.’’ We are no longer under God but above him and no longer trust God to rule our lives. Are we now telling God that he does not have the right to tell us how to live the life that he gave us? Are we saying that what people say is more important than what God said? Where is the supremacy and sovereignty of God in our lives? Are we now backing down from what we believe from the Bible because other people will be offended? Are we now accepting and making legal what the Bible forbid? Remember what Jesus Christ said, ‘’ if you deny me before people, I will also deny you before my father in heaven.’’ The apostles said to the government of their time that they will rather obey God than to obey men. Are we going to deny Jesus because we are afraid to offend people by expressing our faith?

The gospel today tells us how Jesus was disrespected by his own people because they knew his background. And because of that reason, he could not teach and perform miracles among his people like he had done in other places. And Jesus said, ‘’ a prophet is only despised in his own country, among his people.’’ This means, familiarity breeds contempt. Many of us are guilty just as the people at the time of Jesus. For instance, many cradle Catholics Christians take their faith for granted and are not committed like adult converts to the faith. It happens in marriages and family life as well, where members get familiar to each other and begin to disrespect one another. This often leads to crisis and division in a family. In the same way, when we get use to sin, we loss the sense of guilt and see sin as a normal way of life. That is exactly what is happening in our world today with the legalization of evil practices by various governments. We have become too familiar with God that we no long see him as the God who can direct our lives. And so we want to decide how to live our lives. We are making decisions and voting against the commandments of God. The gospel is meant to change the sinner. Not for the sinners to change the gospel to suit their sins. We are voting God out of our lives. Can we survive without God?

As Christians, we must remain firm in our faith and proclaim the teachings of God, the truth of the gospel and nothing else. We must stand on the side of God and his gospel and not what society said is acceptable moral conduct. Obedience must be to God and not to man. May God grant us the grace to be committed in proclaiming and living out his gospel truth.

FOUTHEEN SUNDAY 2015