Monthly Archives: February 2019
Central theme: The readings today are linked together by one main theme: the power of Christian love, when exercised in unconditional forgiveness by the believing community of forgiven sinners. The readings also instruct us about our right and wrong choices. The right choices lead us to God, and the wrong ones break our relationship with Him and with one another.
Scripture lessons: The first reading shows us how David made the right choice, respecting God’s anointed king by forgiving his offenses, while Saul continued to make the wrong choices, perpetuating his misery with his revenge. In the Responsorial Psalm, Ps 103, the Psalmist reminds us of the mercy of God and His compassion which we should practice. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us how the “First Adam” made a wrong choice of disobedience, bringing death into the world, whereas Jesus, the “Second Adam,” made the correct choice of fulfilling his Father’s saving plan. Today’s Gospel (Luke 6:27-38) gives us Jesus’ revolutionary moral teaching about correct choices in our human relationships, placing special emphasis on the golden rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This golden rule is amplified by a string of particular commands: “Love your enemies…Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you.” For Jesus, love is a fundamental attitude that seeks another’s good. Jesus orders us to love our enemies and to be merciful as God our Father is merciful. Jesus challenges us to do for others what God has done for us. “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.” He concludes by instructing us to stop judging and start forgiving.
Life Messages: 1) We need to practice grace-filled behavior: What makes Christianity distinct from any other religion is the quality known as grace, i.e., God’s own life working in us, so that we are able to treat others, not as they deserve, but with love, kindness and mercy. God is good to the unjust as well as to the just. Hence, our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. His love conquers our hurts, fears, prejudices and grief. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment, and give us the courage to return good for evil.
2) We need to pray for the strength to forgive. At every Mass we pray the “Our Father”, asking God to forgive us as we forgive others. Our challenge is to overcome our natural inclination to hate family members, co-workers, neighbors etc. who offend us. To meet that challenge, we need to ask God for the strength to forgive each other. We must forgive, because only forgiveness truly heals us. If we remember how God has forgiven us, it will help us forgive others. Let us start forgiving right now by curbing the sharp tongue of criticism, suppressing the revenge instinct and tolerating the irritating behavior of a neighbor.
Greetings in Christ,
In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus is teaching the demands of love. Love is far more than an emotion. Jesus makes that very clear when he admonishes his followers to love their enemies, and to do good to those who hate them. This defines a way of living in the world under the guidance of the Gospel. Even more challenging, Jesus expects his disciples and all of us to put this mandate into practice. Jesus did this on the cross by forgiving his persecutors.
“Do good as you would have them do to you” is another version of the Golden Rule. By its nature, love stretches our level of acceptance, and allows good actions for others to flow from our hearts. The real test of kingdom living is found in concrete examples of loving one’s enemies and doing good to them. This is really happening at the Sacrament of Reconciliation when the Lord grants his pardon to sinners and tells them to go in peace and not to sin anymore.
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
We need your input!
As you may know, starting next week, we will conduct a comprehensive survey of the entire parish. This planning study follows an extensive process that helped produce our parish master plan. Before making any final decisions regarding the long-range plan for Holy Family, we need to hear from you.
I will ask everyone to share their thoughts regarding our needs and the possibility of conducting a major fundraising effort. Your feedback will enable us to determine potential support for our master plan projects. If we, as a faith community, choose to move forward, the planning study will also provide us with information to identify prospective campaign leaders and to establish a realistic campaign goal.
The Steier Group, our development firm, will compile this information and present it to parish leadership. At that time, we will make an informed decision regarding the implementation of our master plan.
I believe that this process is extremely important, and I encourage every parish family to participate. Your input is valuable as we plan our future at Holy Family.
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
Introduction: Today’s readings teach us that true happiness, or beatitude, lies in the awareness that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father and that we will be happy only when we share our blessings with our brothers and sisters in need and work to uplift them, thus declaring our “option for the poor,” as Jesus did. Contrary to the popular belief, wealth, health, power and influence are not the source of true happiness. The word “beatitude” means “blessedness” in a double sense: both enjoying God’s favor and enjoying true or supreme happiness.
Scripture lessons: In the first reading, Jeremiah tells us that true happiness consists in our placing our trust in God and in putting our trust in His promises. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 1), finds beatitude in keeping God’s Law. In the second reading St. Paul warns us that true beatitude is obtainable only in Heaven and that Christ’s Resurrection gives us our assurance of reaching Heaven for an everlasting life of happiness. In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples in the paradoxical blessedness of poverty, hunger, sorrow and persecution. “Blessed are those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, insulted and denounced,” because in poverty, we recognize our dependence on God; in hunger, God’s providence; in sorrow for sins, reconciliation with God; and in persecution, the true joy of standing for the Faith with heroic convictions. What makes one blessed is not simply poverty or hunger or sadness or suffering for the Faith but living these in the context of our commitment to Jesus and his spirit of sharing. The beatitudes must be understood as eschatological statements which see and evaluate the present in terms of the future glory and everlasting happiness.
Life Messages: 1) We need to respond to the challenge of the beatitudes in our daily life. Millions are starving, persecuted, homeless, and leading hopeless lives. The only way the promises of the beatitudes can become a reality for them is through the efforts of people like us. Hence, let us remember that each time we reach out to help the needy, the sick and the oppressed, we share with them a foretaste of the promises of the beatitudes here and now. 2) Let us light a candle instead of blaming the political set-up. God knows that 50% of His children are hungry, 80% live in substandard housing and 70% have no education. If over half our children were hungry, cold and uneducated, how would we respond to their suffering? God wants us to live as brothers and sisters who care for one another. 3) We must take care to choose our way wisely. “There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the two Ways.” These are the opening lines of the “Didache” a first century Christian catechism used to teach new Christians the essence of the Christian Faith. The way of life and true happiness is the way of Jesus, the way of the beatitudes, the way of rendering loving service to God by serving our brothers and sisters.
OT V [C] (Feb 10 /2019): Is 6: 1-2a, 3-8; I Cor 15: 1-11; Luke 5:1-11
Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is God’s call to a person, and the positive response to this call which leads the person to discipleship. As in our own lives, that call has three steps: 1) The revelation of God Himself, or of Jesus’ identity as the One sent from God 2) The recognition and confession of one’s unworthiness and inadequacy to receive this call. 3) The word of reassurance from God, or Jesus, and a call to share in his life-giving mission. Today’s readings tell us that God has His own criteria for selecting people to be prophets and ministers. Presenting the special calls, or vocations, of Isaiah, Paul and Peter as life-changing events, the readings challenge us to examine our own personal calls to conversion and discipleship.
Scripture lessons: Isaiah, in the first reading, and Peter, in today’s gospel, express their unworthiness to be in the presence of God’s great holiness, and Peter and Isaiah both immediately receive their divine calls. Today’s second reading describes the call of another great apostle, Paul, who judges himself to be unworthy of the name or the call as he was a former persecutor of the Christians. It was by giving these three men a strong conviction of their unworthiness and of their need for total dependence on His grace that God prepared them for their missions. The Second Vatican Council teaches that we are all called to ministry by our Baptism into Jesus Christ.
“I don’t think I’ll be there.” Reverend Billy Graham tells of a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was. When the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Baptist church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to heaven.” “I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy said. “Why?” Billy Graham asked him. “Because you don’t even know your way to the post office! How can you show me the way to heaven?” Today’s readings tell us about the calls of the prophet Isaiah, Paul, and Peter to God’s ministry.
Life Messages: 1) We need to pray that our encounters with the holiness of God may lead us to recognize our sinfulness. God, who calls us and commissions us for His service, wants us to realize His presence everywhere and in everyone, to repent of our sins and to remain in readiness to speak and act for Him in our life circumstances as He shall direct.
2) We need to teach and practice expressions of reverence for the Lord. We need to express our reverence for God through appropriate bodily gestures. For example, when we come into church we need to show reverence for Jesus’ presence in the tabernacle by making a deep bow or by genuflecting and blessing ourselves with sign of the cross. Then we need to honor Him by listening to the word of God and by actively participating in the liturgy’s prayers and singing. This same sense of reverence can be expressed by keeping the Bible, God’s living word to us, in a prominent place in our homes and by kissing it each time we read from it. True reverence for God naturally leads us to the reverent, respectful love of our neighbors as God dwells in them.
3) Each of us has a unique mission in the Church. Therefore, God has a different call for each of us. Each of us is unique, so each of us has a mission which no one else can fulfill. Let us accomplish this mission by radiating the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus and by participating in the various ministries of our parish.
Greetings in Christ,
As you know, over 50 years ago, our founding members established Holy Family. Since then the parish has served our faith community well. From baptisms, to confirmations, through wedding vows and funerals, Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church remains committed to its people.
We attribute our success to the vision exhibited by our leaders, those individuals who expressed a desire to create the Holy Family Community. Forward-thinking leadership encouraged parishioners to unite in building the church and school in 1965. That same faith-filled spirit led to the construction of a new sanctuary 35 years later.
Today we, our lay leadership and myself, envision steps we must make to ensure we continue the legacy established decades ago. The process of enacting these moves began by establishing a Building Committee in 2017 charged with reviewing our facilities. Their assessment revealed the need to address a few campus upgrades. We followed that decision by hiring an architect early last year. By June 2018 we identified a project manager.
Now our next step is to conduct a planning study – we need to know what you think of our plans. Thus, we hired the Steier Group, a national Catholic fundraising and development firm, to gather your feedback; their work will begin shortly.
You’ll hear much more about the project in the comings weeks, but I want to stress my desire for you to participate in the upcoming study. This is your faith home. You help shape who we are. We, your prayerful leadership, truly need to know your thoughts.
This study is an important step for Holy Family and I graciously ask that when the time comes, you share your thoughts.
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
Greetings in Christ,
While inside the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read the scroll of Isaiah 61. The first reaction of the people was to speak highly of him. But the last portion of the Gospel describes the reaction of the people to what Jesus said about himself being the Messiah. This time Jesus was ready to receive Nazareth’s negative response, for they said “That cannot be. He is Joseph’s son. Everyone knows Jesus and his family. He is just one of us folks, like everyone else.” Their demand was “Take care of your own people first! Why should Jesus heal the gentiles and the Jews of Capernaum while there are many Jews needing help in his own hometown?”
The response of Jesus is like Isaiah referring to the Old Testament at the time of Elijah and Elisha. During a severe famine, Elijah was sent to a poor gentile widow in Zarepath. Elisha was sent by God to heal Naaman, the gentile leper, even though there were many Jewish lepers there. Luke, in telling the story of Nazareth, emphasizes the important theme of universalism. Jesus will fulfill the expectation that God sets forth in the Old Testament, but not necessarily the way the people desire and even expect. God cares equally for the gentiles, as Jesus is sent to save people of all nations. Jesus is Lord of all, not only for the few who claim Him to be their own.
Jesus is the reason for our unity here at Holy Family Parish!
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Fourth Sunday (Feb 3/2019) Jer. 1:4-5, 17-19; 1 Cor. 12:31–13:13; Luke 4:21-30.
Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is that we should have and show the courage of our Christian convictions in our faith and its practice in our communities, even when we face hatred and rejection because of our Christian faith.
Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us how God called Jeremiah as His prophet and equipped him to face opposition and rejection. In his prophetic vocation, which he lived out while encountering rejection and persecution, Jeremiah anticipated Jesus, the greatest of all prophets. In the second reading, we hear Paul speaking with the courage of his convictions in correcting the Corinthian Christian community where the exercise of God’s gifts was causing competition, jealousy and divisiveness. He courageously presents to them a “way” which surpasses all others, namely, the way of love and instructs them to exercise their gifts with love. Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s gospel presenting his own people’s reaction to Jesus’ “Inaugural Address” at the synagogue of Nazareth. The passage shows us how Jesus faced skepticism and criticism with prophetic courage. Jeremiah, Paul and Jesus believed that they were commissioned by God to proclaim a disturbing prophetic message (Jer 1: 4-5, 17-19). No matter how strong the opposition, the three had the conviction that God was with them.
1) We need to face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. Perhaps we have experienced the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, violated trust, neglect or abuse, even from friends and family members, when we reached out to them as God’s agents of healing and saving grace. Perhaps we ourselves are guilty of such rejection. Perhaps we, too, have been guilty of ignoring or humiliating people with our arrogance and prejudice. Let us learn to correct our mistakes and face rejection from others with courage.
2) Let us not, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, reject God in our lives. We reject God when we are unwilling to be helped by God, or by others. Such unwillingness prevents us from recognizing God’s directions, help and support in our lives through His words in the Bible, through the teaching of the Church, and through the advice and examples of others.
3) We need to follow Christ, not political correctness, and to speak the truth of Christ without being hypocritical or disrespectful. We must never remain silent in the face of evil for fear of being thought “politically incorrect.” Jesus taught us to love and respect others without condoning or encouraging sinful behavior. We need to be kind, charitable, honest, forgiving, but clear in speaking out our Christian convictions as Jesus was when he spoke in the synagogue.