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Fathers’ Day Reflection
The observance most like our Father’s Day was the ancient Roman Parentalia, an annual family reunion to remember and commemorate departed parents and kinsmen. The originator and promoter of Father’s Day was Mrs. Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington. Her father, William Jackson Smart, had accomplished the amazing task of rearing his six children after their young mother’s death. Mrs. Dodd’s suggestions for observing the day included wearing a flower — a red rose to indicate a living father and a white rose for a dead father. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge made the first Presidential proclamation in support of Father’s Day, and in 1972, President Richard Nixon declared the third Sunday in June a National Day of Observance in honor of fathers.
“Have you ever seen a saint praying?” St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Avila have their own stories about the influence their fathers had on their lives as role models. The Little Flower used to ask an innocent question to her first grader classmates: “Have you ever seen a saint praying?” She would add: “If you haven’t, come to my house in the evening. You will see my dad on his knees in his room with outstretched arms, praying for us, his children, every day.” She states in one of her letters from the convent: “I have never seen or heard or experienced anything displeasing to Jesus in my family.” In the final year of her high school studies, St. Teresa of Avila was sent by her father (against her will), to a boarding house conducted by nuns. Her father acted now he discovered bad books and yellow magazines hidden in her box. These had been supplied to Teresa by her spoiled friend and classmate, Beatrice. St. Teresa later wrote as the Mother. Fathers are role model for their children
Greetings in Christ,
We honor the Blessed Trinity this Sunday!
God’s love for us is shared by three distinct entities – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – called Holy Trinity, one God. Love unites intimately the Blessed Trinity into one God. This power of unity, created by God’s love, is shared with us on earth, as in a family. A family is united by the presence of love, one for the other, yet each family member is distinct – adults and children. The power of love is the Spirit that unites family members in faith, respect, honor and mutual support. They have the joy of serving each other – as one family.
The love, faith and unity of the Blessed Trinity continues to flow beyond families into clusters of families, becoming communities – even nations – united by the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate the same faith, and worship the same Lord, we become one parish family, like the Holy Family of Nazareth. This model family, for which our parish is named, can trace their unity, fidelity, service and holiness to the Blessed Trinity. We, then, celebrate one faith, one family, one parish. Blessed feast day of the Holy Trinity!
I hope your children are enrolled to learn and participate in this week’s Vacation Bible School. It is a great opportunity for them to share God’s love and faith as members of our one big family.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
HOLY TRINITY [C] (June 16): Prv. 8:22-31; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15
Introduction: The mystery of the most Holy Trinity is a basic doctrine of Faith in Christianity, understandable not with our heads but with our hearts. It teaches us that there are three distinct Persons in one God, sharing the same Divine Nature. Our mind cannot grasp this doctrine which teaches that 1+1+1 = 1 and not 3. But we believe in this Mystery because Jesus who is God taught it clearly, the Evangelists recorded it, the Fathers of the Church tried to explain it and the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople defined it as a dogma of Christian Faith.
Importance in Christian life: 1) All prayers in the Church begin in the Name of the Holy Trinity and end glorifying the Trinity.
2) All Sacraments are administered (we are baptized, confirmed, anointed, our sins are forgiven, and our marriage blessed, and our Bishops, priests and deacons ordained) in the name of the Holy Trinity.
3) Where Church bells ring thrice daily, they remind us to pray to the Holy Trinity.
4) We bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us, in the name of the Holy Trinity.
Biblical basis: There are only vague and hidden references to the Trinity in the Old Testament. But the New Testament gives clear teachings on the Holy Trinity.
1) At the Annunciation, God the Father sends His angel to Mary, God the Holy Spirit overshadows her and God the Son becomes incarnate in her womb.
2) At the baptism of Jesus, when the Son receives baptism from John the Baptist, the Father’s Voice is heard and the Holy Spirit appears as a Dove.
3) At the Ascension, Jesus gives the missionary command to his disciples to baptize those who believe, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
4) In John, chapters 15-18, we have a detailed account of Jesus’ teaching of the role of each Person of the Holy Trinity:
- a) God the Father creates and provides for His creatures.
- b) God the Son redeems us and reconciles us with God.
- c) God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, strengthens us, teaches us and guides us to God.
Simplified explanations by Ss. Patrick, Cyril and John Maria Vianney: The shamrock, a kind of clover, is a leguminous herb that grows in marshy places. St. Patrick, the missionary patron saint of Ireland, used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. Patrick’s friends couldn’t answer – the shamrock leaf looked like one, but it clearly had three parts. Patrick explained to them: “The mystery of the Holy Trinity – one God in Three Persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – is like this, but more complex and unintelligible.” St. Cyril, the teacher of the Slavs, tried to explain the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity using sun as an example. He said, “God the Father is that blazing sun. God the Son is its light and God the Holy Spirit is its heat — but there is only one sun. So, there are three Persons in the Holy Trinity, but God is One and indivisible.” St. John Maria Vianney used to explain Holy Trinity using lighted candles and roses on the altar and water in the cruets. “The flame has color, warmth and shape. But these are expressions of one flame. Similarly, the rose has color, fragrance and shape. But these are expressions of one reality, namely, rose. Water, steam and ice are three distinct expressions of one reality. In the same way one God revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Clear doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament.
- a) The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), describes how God the Father sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to announce to her that God the Holy Spirit, would “overshadow” her, and that God the Son would be made flesh in her womb.
- b) During the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17), the Holy Spirit was shown descending on Jesus in the form of a Dove, while the Voice of God the Father was heard from the clouds.
- c) John (Chapters 15 through 18), presents the detailed teaching of Jesus on the Persons of the Holy Trinity.
- d) In the preaching mission given by the risen Lord to his disciples, Jesus commanded them to baptize people “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”(Confer also Matthew 28:19; John 10:30).
Life Messages: 1. We need to respect ourselves and respect others. Our conviction of the presence of the Triune God within us should help us to esteem ourselves as God’s holy dwelling place, to behave well in His holy presence, and to lead purer and holier lives, practicing acts of justice and charity. This Triune Presence should also encourage us to respect and honor others as “Temples of the Holy Spirit.”
2) We need to be aware of God as the Source of our strength and courage. The awareness and conviction of the presence of God within us, gives us the strength to face the manifold problems of life with Christian courage. It was such a conviction that prompted the early Christian martyrs, when taken to their execution, to shout the heroic prayer of Faith from the Psalms: “The Lord of might is with us, our God is within us, and the God of Jacob is our helper” (Psalm 46).
3) We need to see the Trinity as the model for our Christian families: We are created in love to be a community of loving persons, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in love. From the day of our Baptism, we have belonged to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How privileged we are to grow up in such a beautiful Family! Hence, let us turn to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in prayer every day. We belong to the Family of the Triune God. The love, unity and joy in the relationship among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit should be the supreme model of our relationships within our Christian families. Our families become truly Christian when we live in a relationship of love with God and with others.
Pentecost (June 9) Acts 2:1-11; I Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23
Pentecost literally means 50th. It is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover feast by the Jews and a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus by the Christians. The Jewish Pentecost was originally a post-harvest thanksgiving feast. Later, the Jews included in it the remembrance of God’s Covenants with Noah after the Deluge and with Moses at Mt. Sinai.
The event: On the day of Pentecost 1) The Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary as fiery tongues. 2) The frightened apostles were transformed into fiery preachers and evangelizers and were given the gift of tongues by a special anointing of the Holy Spirit. 3) The listeners experienced a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit through the apostles’ gift of tongues: they heard Peter speaking in their native languages. 4) The early Christians became powerful witnesses and brave martyrs for their Faith in Jesus.
The Holy Spirit clean-up job: The Holy Spirit not only gives life but even brings dead bones to life. In Greek mythology, we read about the demi-god Hercules, son of Zeus and Alcmena. He was noted for his strength and was commanded by the King whom he was serving in expiation of a crime to clean the stables of Augeas, which housed 3000 oxen. The stable had not been cleaned for 30 years and Hercules was told to do the job within a day. This was a herculean job to complete. He could not do it by his own enormous power, so he directed the river Alpheus to run through the stable and so completed the task. The apostles themselves did a great job of cleaning and giving life to people by letting the Holy Spirit move into them.
The role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life: 1) As an indwelling God, He makes us His Living Temples (I Cor 3:16). 2) As a strengthening God, He strengthens us in our fight against temptations and in our mission of bearing witness to Christ by transparent Christian lives. 3) As a sanctifying God, He makes us holy through the Sacraments: a) He makes us children of God and heirs of Heaven through Baptism. b) He makes us temples of God, warriors and defenders of the Faith, through Confirmation. c) He enables us to be reconciled with God by pardoning our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. d) He gives us spiritual nourishment via the Holy Eucharist by converting bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood through Epiclesis. 4) As a teaching and guiding God, He clarifies and constantly reminds us of Christ’s teachings. 5) As a listening and talking God, He listens to our prayers and enables us to pray, and He speaks to us mainly through the Bible. 6) As a Giver of gifts, He gives us His gifts, fruits and charisms.
Life messages: We need to permit the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives: 1) by constantly remembering His holy presence and behaving well; 2) by praying for His daily anointing so that we may fight against our temptations and control our evil tendencies, evil habits and addictions; 3) by asking His daily assistance to pray, listening to God through meditative Bible reading and talking to Him; and 4) by asking the help of the Holy Spirit to do good for others and to be reconciled with God and others every day.
Greetings in Christ,
This Sunday is one of our most important feast days, Pentecost. It is known as the birthday of the Church.
John’s Gospel proclaims that our risen Lord appeared to his disciples inside doors that were locked for fear of the Jewish authorities. Jesus changed their fears into joy by greeting them twice with, “Peace be with you“, then “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven”.
Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to his apostles at this appearance. In the synoptic Gospels of Matthew and the rest of the evangelists, the time of receiving the Holy Spirit is spread over fifty complete days after the resurrection of Jesus, after he had ascended into heaven. We see that John’s Gospel is direct, less dramatic than the rest, yet all agree on the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is important for all believers, for all of us. Evangelists vary on their presentations, and the communities to which they proclaim.
We pray that the Holy Spirit of love remain in us like a gentle breath, moving us daily to strongly live by its guidance, as united families of believers.
Pray, and join the Women’s ACTS retreat this coming weekend.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Greetings in Christ,
It is now the feast of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. Everything that has happened to Jesus has been designed and guided by divine power. Nothing happens by chance. This is called divine necessity. Part of this, Jesus reminds his disciples to continue proclaiming his teachings to all nations. This means universality. It must begin from Jerusalem as symbol of the old world, and to Rome representing the new world at that time. From Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit will empower the disciples like a cloth from on high to move to all nations, sealed for fruitful missionary activities. This commissioning is shared to all of us now by witnessing the risen Christ in our daily life.
The Ascension of Jesus is described very briefly by Jesus blessing his disciples and is taken up into heaven. There is no sense of closure here. Moreover, the disciples are commissioned and empowered for more exiting ventures by putting the teachings and commandments of Jesus into practice. These apply to all of us baptized in Christ Jesus our risen Lord.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Ascension of the Lord (June 2, 2019) : Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Lk 24:46-53
Introduction: Today’s readings describe the Ascension of the Lord Jesus his Heavenly glory after promising to send the Apostles the Holy Spirit as the source of Heavenly power and commanding them to bear witness to Him through their lives and preaching throughout the world. But the ascended Jesus is still with us because of His promise, “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” He is always with us and in all places, releasing a new energy upon the earth, the energy of the Holy Spirit.
The Unfinished Painting: Leonardo da Vinci had started to work on a large canvas in his studio. For a while he worked at it – choosing the subject, planning the perspective, sketching the outline, applying the colors, with his own inimitable genius. Then suddenly he stopped working on it. Summoning one of his talented students, the master invited him to complete the work. The horrified student protested that he was both unworthy and unable to complete the great painting which his master had begun. But da Vinci silenced him. “Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?” Jesus our Master began to spread the Good News two thousand years ago by what he said and did, and supremely by what he suffered. Jesus illustrated his message and left us to finish the picture. Will Jesus’ life not inspire us to finish the picture? This is the message of the Ascension
The Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes the scene of Jesus’ Ascension, the promise of the Holy Spirit, instructions to the apostles to wait at Jerusalem for the power from above, and the missionary command to the apostles to bear witness to him. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 47), suggests that by his Ascension, the risen Lord “mounts his throne” in glory. In the second reading, Paul teaches us that God revealed His might in the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ and in exalting Him over all angelic forces. Jesus remains accessible to us now in the life-giving Holy Spirit, assuring us that one day we, too, will be ascending to Heavenly glory, provided that, with His grace, we live out our Faith in Him through the mission of loving service He entrusts to us. Today’s Gospel tells us that, with his return to the Father, Jesus completes his mission on earth. But just before his Ascension, Jesus entrusted to the disciples the mission of preaching the Good News and evangelizing the whole world by bearing witness to him through their lives. It is in his Ascension that we see Jesus entering fully into the life and glory of God. In the descriptions of Christ after his Resurrection, we are given a hint of what life will be like in Heaven. The prospect of sharing that glory should be the driving force of our lives.
Life messages: 1) We need to be proclaimers and evangelizers: To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. We preach with words, but we proclaim with our lives. Let us ask the guidance of the Spirit of God to bear witness to Jesus by our transparent Christian lives. 2) We have a teaching mission: Jesus taught us lessons of Faith, Hope, Love, forgiveness, mercy and salvation by his life and preaching and gave us the same mission to teach others. Hence, let us learn about Jesus and his teachings through our daily study of the Bible and the teachings of the Church, experience Jesus in personal prayer, our reception of the Sacraments and our works of charity, and convey to others Jesus whom we experience with the help of the Holy Spirit. 3) We need Jesus as our source of strength and encouragement in doing His will: We will be able to overcome doubts about our Faith and baseless fears, anxiety and worries by meditating on Jesus’ Ascension and the lesson it teaches that we, too, are called to share his glory in Heaven.
19th of May 2019
Greetings in Christ,
In this fifth week of Easter, the good news of the risen Christ continues inspiring our hearts with joy. Our Lord is risen; he is victorious in all ways! Our broken union with God has been restored by Jesus. God’s mercy and forgiveness abound among us, from Jesus, through His Divine Mercy. Conquering all troubles, sin, death and conflicts, the glory and power of God triumph.
Jesus gives a new commandment that is to love one another as he loves us. This is for all disciples and us, because the love of God conquers all. This love is an act of the will – a decision to put oneself at the service of the other, like Jesus did in washing the feet of his disciples. This kind of service is carried to its ultimate degree when Jesus is crucified out of love for us. When we serve each other, this love brings us to ultimate equality – and everyone can see that we are disciples of Jesus.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Easter V (May 19):
Acts 14:21-27; Rv. 21:1-5a; Jn 13:31-35
Introduction: Today’s readings are about renewal and new things: The New Jerusalem, a new Heaven and a new earth, and a new commandment. Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how the small Christian communities helped the work of renewal in their members by their agápe love, imitating the agápe love of Paul and Barnabas. The second reading, from the Book of Revelation, explains how God renews His Church, the New Jerusalem, by being present in her members and in their parish communities and liturgical celebrations. “See, I am making all things new.” Today’s Gospel passage gives us the secret of Christian renewal as the faithful practice of Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:35). Jesus has added a new element to the Old Testament command of love by teaching us that the true test of discipleship is to love other people in the same way that he has loved us, with sacrificial, unconditional, agápe love. Hence, the renewal of Christian life means a radical change of vision and a reordering of our priorities in life. Such a renewal brings us to embrace new attitudes, new values and new standards of relating to God, to other people and, indeed, to our whole environment.
“Little children love one another:” St. Jerome relates of the apostle John that when he became old, he used to be carried to the assembled Churches, everywhere repeating the words, “Little children, love one another.” His disciples, wearied by the constant repetition, asked him why he always said this. “Because,” he replied, “it is the Lord’s commandment, and if it only be fulfilled, it is enough.” John knew that the greatest truth was most apt to be forgotten because it was taken for granted. This is one of the greatest calamities in the Christian Church and the one that causes divisions.
Life messages: 1) Let us learn to love ourselves so that we may learn to love each other. The old commandment (Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18) says: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We cannot learn to cherish others and care for them if we have never learned to do the same for ourselves. We live in a world that denies our basic human worth. How do we reclaim our basic worth? We can become whole and holy only when we learn to love ourselves properly, acknowledging the fact that we are children of God and that the Triune God resides in our souls, making our bodies the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”
2) Let us love others in our daily lives: We are asked to love as Jesus loved, in the ordinary course of our lives. We love others by responding to their everyday needs with love and compassion. We love others by comforting and protecting those who have experienced loss. We love others by serving others in every possible way no matter how small, seeing the face of Jesus in them. We love others by forgiving rather than condemning, by challenging rather than condoning. Finally, we love others by sacrificially sharing our time, talents and blessings with them.
3) Let us demonstrate our love for others in our gatherings and parish assemblies: When we are assembled as a religious or social community, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our love for one another. People must see Christians as people who interact with a love and concern for one another that reveals their strong love and appreciation for each other. They should see in us a quickness to appreciate and readiness to forgive, even as Christ has forgiven us.
MOTHER’S DAY REFLECTIONS – MAY 12, 2019
Introduction: Today we thank our mothers, pray for them and honor them by celebrating Mother’s Day and by offering our mothers on the altar of God.
The origin of “Mother’s Day.” Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948), first suggested the national observance of an annual day honoring all mothers because she had loved her own mother so dearly. At a memorial service for her mother on May 10, 1908, Miss Jarvis gave a carnation (her mother’s favorite flower), to each person who attended. Within the next few years, the idea of a day to honor mothers gained popularity, and Mother’s Day was observed in several large cities in the U.S. On May 9, 1914, by an act of Congress, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. He established the day as a time for “public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” By then it had become customary to wear white carnations to honor departed mothers and red to honor the living, a custom that continues to this day. Proverbs 31:10-31 presents us with God’s description and estimation of what a godly wife and mother looks like.
Mothers and motherly women in the Bible: Certainly, the Bible recognizes women in positions of power – women who have contributed to making the world a better place. There was Miriam who led the people in praising God after the crossing of the Red Sea (Ex 15:21); Ruth who put God first and became the ancestress of King David (Ruth 1:16; 4:17); Deborah, a judge in Israel (Judges 5); Hannah who “gave to the Lord” the child of her prayers (1 Sam 1:28); Esther who took her life in her hands to plead for her doomed people (Esther C:14-30); the pagan widow whose obedience sustained the prophet Elijah (1Kings 17:9-16); a little captive Jewish maid who told Naaman’s wife of the man of God who could cure Naaman of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:2-4). The most important mother in the New Testament is Jesus’ Mother, Mary, whom Jesus, on the cross, gave to be Mother to John, his beloved friend, and in him to all of us for whom he was dying. Jesus praised the poor widow for her gift of two mites to the Temple (Mk 12:43
Ideal wife and mother in Proverbs: Prov 31:10-31 presents us with God’s description and estimation of what a godly wife and mother looks like. 1. She is a devoted wife (vv 11, 12, 23). She is one who has the confidence of her husband; she seeks his welfare and enhances his reputation. 2. She is a diligent partner (vv 13-17, 18b, 19, 22, 24). As a woman with God’s viewpoint, she is a willing worker, a wise shopper and a planner who is able to minister to her family because she keeps herself fit, spiritually and physically (cf. vv 18a, 25). 3. She is a dutiful servant to the needy and the poor (v 20). She has a vision for ministry not only to her family but also to her society. 4. She is a dependable mother (vv 15, 21, 27). She is devoted to the needs of her family. She is well-groomed, attractive, organized and disciplined; as such, she is a testimony to her children. 5. She is a doctrinally-oriented woman (v 26). She is a woman full of God’s wisdom. St. Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church (Eph 6:25). Husbands have the solemn duty to sacrifice themselves continually in their total love for their wives and their children. Each day provides numerous opportunities for husbands to live out their family life with many acts of patience, kindness and service. The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
The role of mothers in our lives: This is a day to admit gratefully the fact that none of us can return, in the same measure, all the love that our mothers have given us. Their influence on their children is so great that it affects the children throughout their lives. Our mothers not only gave us birth but nursed us, nurtured us, trained us in their religious beliefs and practices, taught us good manners and ideal behavior, disciplined us as best as they could and made us good citizens of our country, our Church and our society. There is a beautiful Spanish proverb: “An ounce of mother is better than a pound of clergy.” Hence, it is highly proper for us to express our love and gratitude to our mothers by our presence, gifts and prayers on Mother’s Day. We offer this Eucharistic celebration on Mother’s Day for all the mothers in our congregation, whether they are alive here or have gone for their eternal reward. The word “mom” is synonymous with sacrificial, agápe love in its purest form, as commanded by Jesus in his farewell speech: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Hence, let us lavish our love on our mothers and express our gratitude for them in the form of fervent prayers offered for them before God.