Greetings in Christ,
God calls each one of us to be neighbors to one another here at our Parish of Holy Family, the kind of neighborhood that is inspired by the Gospel message, not determined by closeness of our homes or physical boundaries. Being neighbors to each other is not determined solely by racial, cultural or religious heritage. As Jesus has clearly shown in the Gospel, a neighbor is anyone who acts out of love for God and meets people’s needs with love. Jesus is teaching a hard lesson: No one has exclusive rights on God’s avenues of grace. No one is off limits for God. Humans do not determine who is acceptable or unacceptable to God.
At Holy Family, everyone is welcome to participate in any ministry as it serves out of love for God to every member. God has given anyone different talents so that various services can exist with one motivation – to do it at the service of our Lord. The beauty is that everyone can love, and everyone also needs love. As we keep this intention of serving each other’s needs in our hearts, we become one people in one body of Christ, and one parish of Holy Family.
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
In the parable of today, a traveler, assumed to be a Jew, is attacked by robbers on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem. A Priest comes along, he does not help. Then comes a Levite, he too does not help. Both, the Priest and the Levite, have their reasons not to reach out to the wounded man who is now lying like a corpse. Touching him would defile them and render them impure to minister in the temple. They are following the directives of the law. Remember, it is a lawyer who has asked Jesus the question: “Who is my neighbor” (Lk 10:25,29). In the mind of the Jewish listeners (yes, and in the mind of the lawyer, for that matter) the next to appear on the scene should be a Jewish layman. But the twist to the story: one who appears on the scene is a Samaritan. It must have been obvious to the Samaritan from his clothes that the wounded man was a Jew. The Samaritan would have nothing to do with a Jew (see Jn 4:9: “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew. How is it that you ask me, a Samaritan, for something to drink?’ – Jews, of course, do not associate with Samaritans”). But he breaks the ‘law’ of his own culture and times. He reaches out. This adds weight to the message of Jesus: your neighbor is anyone who is in need. Even if you have been brainwashed by your culture that the people of your in-group are more important than those of the out-group, you need to break the taboo and reach out to the person in need. This is the key message of the gospel text of today.
Having stated the core message of the gospel of today, I would like to focus on some details. Often, I myself want to reach out to others, but lack the means, the time, and the resources. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed to be acting alone faced with the enormity of the need of my neighbor. So, what shall I do? How do I implement the message of Jesus?
“He lifted him up to his own mount”: Use your own means to reach out
As a priest ministering largely in the developing world, almost daily people come asking for help. Often help simply means money! And money, I do not have. So, how could I help? How could I reach out to my neighbor? Often, I am like the disciples who replied to Jesus when he asked them to “give them something to eat yourselves”, “Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?” (Mk 6:37). Jesus challenges me with the same words, “’How many loaves have you? Go and see.” In other words, he says, go and see what you do have, and help out your needy neighbor with that which you have! This is challenging!
The Samaritan in the gospel of today has compassion on the wounded man, he reaches out to him; he is ready to change his timetable. He does first aid – pouring wine and oil to disinfect the wounds – and then lifts the wounded man “to his own mount.” Basically, he uses what he has. That is, it! His expertise ends there, not his compassion. So, he does a referral!
Maybe I should do the same with those wounded brothers and sisters of mine in Africa and India – wounded by the lack of opportunities. I could offer them my time, my skills, my education. And not necessarily money! But when my limits end I can always do a referral to someone else.
“Carried him to the inn”: You don’t need to do it all on your own
Overwhelmed by the need around us, sometimes we all ask ourselves: what can I do alone – all by myself. It is too much for me. And thus, we do nothing about the situation.
Having provided first aid, and used the resources that he possessed, the Good Samaritan takes the wounded man to an inn. Probably, he could not take him to his own home. Maybe he was on an important mission and could not go back home. But he can create a network of helpers. The man outsources his objective of showing compassion.
It is not uncommon to see in the context of the charities run by the Church, and among religious orders, certain level of competition and even envy. What Jesus teaches us through the parable of today is to network with like-minded people so that we could reach out to our needy neighbors more effectively.
May be the inn-keeper might ask the Good Samaritan about the background to the wounded man, he might share in the compassion of the Good Samaritan. He might not only condone the expenses but become more compassionate himself. Thus, the Good Samaritan not only has reached out to the wounded man but has also brought something good out of the inn-keeper. A good action properly carried out becomes positively contagious.
“On my way back, I will make good any extra expense”: Follow up
To help someone once, just by dishing out some money is paternalism – acting as if you are superior to that person and showing off that you have something that they don’t have. One way of overcoming paternalism is by spending time with the person listening and being present for that person, another way is also to follow up the impact of the help rendered to that person.
Having taken the wounded man to the inn, the Good Samaritan is willing to do a follow up on this stranger: he promises to visit him “on his way back” and even pay the extra expenses that might be due to the inn-keeper.
The follow up can take several forms. If I am a frequent visitor on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem, and I am quite aware that the road is infested with robbers, maybe I might have to put up a sign-post that warns the travelers not to travel alone along that road. May be, I need to ask a more fundamental question: Why is this area full of brigands? What is driving them to such an action? Could there be a structural solution to this problem? And I might have to do some lobbying and advocacy work to deal with the problem. This way, I will be reaching out not just to one wounded neighbor, or not even to more neighbors, but I will be establishing the Kingdom of justice and peace more tangibly.
And Jesus said, “Go and do the same yourself!”
Can we ask ourselves the following questions?
- When a similar situation comes, what are we planning to do?
- Are we scared to help anyone because of legal issues that follow?
- Can we go move away from self-centeredness to help others no matter what comes next?
- Doing something for others we find Jesus in other persons as Mother Teresa of Calcutta?
7th of July 2019
Greetings in Christ,
We, as believers of Jesus, are called to be His disciples. The need during these modern times for discipleship is inspired by urgency and mission – the secular world is leading people more to deny God’s presence, and even to the sense of sin. We see many kinds of addiction, now more than before. Does anybody care for God amid worldly affairs?
Jesus’ mission is to fulfill people’s hunger and thirst for God’s love and compassion, turning them away from being victims of sinful pleasure-seeking and selfish desire. He heals the souls of victims searching for truth and true freedom from the endless slavery to sin. Jesus sees how great is the harvest of souls hungry for God’s love and mercy. These souls are seeking inner peace that only God can give. Real joy is a gift from God. Jesus calls each one of us to continue His mission, to spread God’s kingdom of love, justice and peace. He needs more disciples within His community of believers to spread the fire of God’s divine love to souls suffering for healing and forgiveness.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
July 7, 2019: OT XIV [C] Is 66:10-14c; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10: 1-12, 17-20
Introduction: Today’s Scriptures are about announcing the Good News. They remind us that announcing the Good News of the Kingdom by words, deeds and life is not the task of only a few. Rather, it is a task for all baptized Christians.
Scripture lessons: In the first reading, Isaiah announces the good news to the returned Babylonian exiles that the ruined and desolate Jerusalem will take care of them “as a mother comforts her baby son.” Isiah assures the returned Jews that they will live in the certainty of Yahweh’s promises of love, protection, prosperity and salvation. In today’s second reading, Paul removes the confusion created by the Judaizers in the minds of the new Gentile Christians of Galatia. He clearly conveys the good news that it is Jesus’ death on the cross which brings one’s salvation and not Jewish heritage or practice of Torah laws. Paul reminds us that the mission of each member of the Church is to bear witness to the saving power of the cross of Christ through a life of sacrificial, self-giving service. In today’ Gospel, Luke describes the fulfillment of the prophetic promise made by Isaiah in Jesus’ commissioning of 72 disciples to preach the Gospel or the good news of God’s love and salvation in towns and villages in preparation for his own visit. Jesus gives the paired disciples “travel tips” for their missionary journey. They must be walking witnesses of God’s providence, relying on the hospitality of others, living very simple lives, preaching the Good News and healing the sick. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we, the 1.5 billion Christians in the world today, have the mission of the 72, to preach the Gospel of Christ to the rest of world’s 4.5 billion non-Christians.
Reflection anecdote: Jesus needs leaders: One leader in the Old Testament who possessed both expressive and instrumental leadership abilities was Josiah (2 Kings 22-23). King Josiah was a great leader. When he came to the throne of Judah at age eight, the nation was essentially pagan. Heathen altars stood on the high hills, and the people offered incense to false gods. The Lord God was forgotten. The Law was lost. The Temple was closed, and the Passover was only a distant memory. When King Josiah died 31 years later, the nation had been completely changed! The pagan altars were only piles of rubble. The Covenant with God had been renewed. The Law once again was read and revered. The Temple doors were opened, and the priests fulfilled their duties faithfully. The Passover was celebrated and the Lord God, Yahweh, was worshiped. Josiah was a leader who knew how to lead God’s people Israel. Today’s Gospel outlines Jesus’ action plan for future leaders in his Church.
Life Messages: 1) We need to continue the proclamation of the Gospel: Just as Jesus, in today’s Gospel, gave instructions to the seventy-two missionaries, he also gives each one of us a mission to carry out. As faithful Christians, we should attract others to the Faith by leading exemplary lives, just as a rose attracts people by its beauty and fragrance. This is our job and our responsibility. We must not miss the current opportunities to be apostles through our words and deeds in everyday life.
2) We need to avoid giving the counter-witness of practicing the “supermarket Catholicism” of our politicians who publicly proclaim their “Catholicism” and yet support abortion, gay marriage, human cloning and experimentation with human embryos. Nor should we be “armchair Catholics,” “cafeteria Catholics” or “Sunday Catholics” who bear counter-witness to Christ through our lives.
OT XIII [C] (June 30): I Kgs 19:16b, 19-21; Gal 5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62
Introduction: Today’s readings are about God’s call and man’s commitment in answer to that call. They ask for total commitment in total freedom with the spirit of patient love, saying an unconditional “Yes” to Jesus and to the Christian life as a true disciple of Christ.
Scripture lessons: The first reading describes how Elisha committed himself whole-heartedly to answer God’s call to be a prophet, despite his initial hesitation when God called him through the prophet Elijah. The Responsorial Psalm, (Psalm 16), offers us the refrain, “You are my inheritance, O Lord.” This Psalm has traditionally been used to exemplify commitment to the ordained ministry or to religious profession. But it more accurately reflects the commitment made by all Christians in their Baptism. The second reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, reinforces the commitment message of the first reading and the Responsorial Psalm. Paul warns that true freedom is not meant to be a license for self-indulgence, but to be a way to show God, ourselves, and other human beings our commitment to God and to His service.
The first part of today’s Gospel records Jesus’ teaching on Christian tolerance, given after he had observed the angry response of two of his apostles. James and John were angry and asked if Jesus wanted them to bring down fire from Heaven to destroy the Samaritans who had refused to receive Jesus as a prophet and allow him to travel through their village because Jesus was travelling to Jerusalem. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Luke introduces three potential disciples who offered lame reasons that made Jesus’ call to ministry “impossible” for them to accept, after Jesus had told them plainly what the commitment required, and the cost involved. They were found unfit and unprepared to follow Jesus as his disciples. We too, are asked to follow Jesus, totally and immediately, without any reservations, both by giving priority to him and to his cause and by surrendering our lives to God in humble and dedicated service to others.
The Cost of Discipleship: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran theologian, wrote a series of reflections on the Sermon on the Mount entitled, The Cost of Discipleship, in which he maintained that discipleship requires that we make a fundamental decision to follow Jesus and to accept the consequences of that decision. His own religious convictions led him to stand up to the tyranny of Nazi Germany and to participate in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The plot was uncovered, Bonhoeffer was apprehended, and the ultimate “cost” of discipleship was exacted of him: he was hanged by the Nazis on April 9, 1945. While discipleship might force some people to decide between life and death, few of us will be asked to pay that ultimate price. But today’s Gospel challenges us to live in a certain way, imitating the prophetic vocation of Jesus
Life messages: As Christians, we should have the courage of our convictions and so honor our commitments: a) The marriage commitment. The spouses are expected to honor their marriage commitment, that is, to remain in mutual love and respect till their death and to raise their children to be zealous Christians. b) The priestly and religious commitment: Priests, Deacons and religious should honor the commitment they have made to obey their lawful superiors, to keep their vows and to spend their lives serving God’s people faithfully. c) The Christian commitment: As Christians, all of us should honor our Baptismal commitment: to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, to obey his law of love and to bear witness to him through ideal and transparent Christian lives.
Greetings in Christ,
Jesus’ call for discipleship is of primary importance. He calls us with a significant mission to accomplish – that is, to proclaim God’s kingdom. This is the presence of God among us, already realized, which will continue to be fulfilled in the next life to come. The coming of Jesus begins the reign of God in our midst. There are many who need to be aware of God’s reign, and this must be accomplished by the proclamations of someone commissioned by Jesus to do so, by personal witnessing, both in deeds and in good works. In the Gospel, Jesus does not accept excuses from those he asks to “Follow me.” Even looking back to say farewell will cause delays in addressing the urgent need for souls to be saved, and for spreading God’s reign.
By our Baptism into Christ, we are called in our own little ways to follow Jesus. Our daily mission is to witness to Jesus’ presence, accepting him as the center of our life. The mission Jesus wants for us can be fulfilled by each of us choosing a parish ministry that fits God’s calling for us individually, and in doing so, give of our time, talent and treasure. This includes participating in our parish campaign for development. We give these to the Lord as concrete acts of worship, in faithful response to following his call.
Happy Fourth of July celebration week! Let us exercise our freedom of religion by being faithful to Jesus’ call to follow him.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Greetings in Christ,
Welcome, as we honor the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ this Sunday! This is usually called the “Corpus Christi” Sunday.
The greatest gift our Lord ever gives to us is His loving presence. Jesus dwells among us in His most sacred Body and Blood in the Eucharist. He has made himself humble and vulnerable. He gives us his sacred Body for us eat, and Blood to drink at Holy Communion. In turn, Jesus nourishes us by giving eternal life to all who receive him with love and faith. God has made himself very close to us in this way, because He loves us immensely. God’s real presence among us in the Eucharist is not symbolic. God’s presence is real, a gift that we can see, taste, touch, feel and receive by eating and drinking at Communion, because God wants to be the central part of our lives.
After 10:00 a.m. Mass this Sunday, everyone is invited to join our “Corpus Christi” Sunday celebration at Holy Family. We will have a procession around our parish campus as an expression of our faith and love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Please join us; you are very much welcome.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST [C] (May 29)
(Gen 14: 18-20; I Cor 11: 21-26; Lk 9: 11b-17)
Importance: 1) The last two precious gifts given to us by Jesus are the Holy Eucharist as our spiritual food on Holy Thursday and Jesus’ mother Mary as our spiritual Mother on Good Friday 2) Corpus Christi is the celebration of the abiding presence of a loving God as Emmanuel – God with us – to give collective thanks to our Lord for his living with us in the Eucharist. 3) The feast also gives us an occasion to learn more about the importance and value of the “Real Presence” so that we may appreciate and better and receive maximum benefit from the Sacrament.
We believe in the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist because 1) Jesus promised it after miraculously feeding the 5000. 2) Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during his Last Supper. 3) Jesus commanded his disciples to repeat it in his memory. 4) “Nothing is impossible for God.”
We explain the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by: the Aristotelian philosophical term “transubstantiation” which means that the substance of the consecrated bread and wine is changed to the substance of the risen Jesus’ glorified Body and Blood by the action of the Holy Spirit, and its accidents (like color, shape, taste etc.), remain the same.
Scripture lessons: This year’s readings for the feast emphasize the theme of Covenant blood because the ancient peoples sealed covenants with the blood of ritually sacrificed animals, and Jesus sealed his New Covenant with his own Blood shed on Calvary. Today’s first reading describes how Moses, by sprinkling the blood of a sacrificed animal on the altar and on the people, accepted the Covenant Yahweh proposed and made with His People. In the second reading, St. Paul affirms that Jesus sealed the New Covenant with his own Blood, thereby putting an end to animal sacrifices. Today’s Gospel details how Jesus converted this ancient ritual into a Sacrament and sacrifice. Instead of the lamb’s blood, Jesus offered his own Divine/human Body and Blood, and instead of sprinkling us with blood, he put it into our hands as Food: “Take, this is my Body” (He did not say “This represents my Body”), and “This is my Blood of the Covenant, which is poured out for many.”
A Sacrament and a sacrifice: Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist both as a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament, a) the Eucharist is a visible sign that gives us God’s grace and God’s life and, b) as a meal, it nourishes our souls. As a sacrifice a) the Eucharistic celebration is a re-presentation or re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, completed in His Resurrection. b) We offer Jesus’ sacrifice to God the Father for the remission of our sins, using signs and symbols.
Life messages: 1) Let us appreciate the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, by receiving Him with true repentance for our sins, due preparation and reverence.
2) Let us be Christ-bearers and conveyors: By receiving Holy Communion, we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, through love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
3) Let us offer our lives on the altar along with Jesus’ sacrifice, asking pardon for our sins, expressing gratitude for the blessings we have received and presenting our needs and petitions on the altar.
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
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