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Keeping the Balance by Fr. Joel

Last week we reflected on the story of the Good Samaritan which reminded us to see those in need aMary-or-Martha-1000x563s our neighbors and assist them. This week we are reflecting on the story of Martha and Mary, the two sisters that received Jesus in their house as guest. We are called upon today to keep a balance between our activities and prayers. Martha was involved in activities while Mary was seated and listening to Jesus. Both actions are needed and required for us to become good Christians/disciples.

In the first reading we saw how Abraham welcomed three men who were passing by his house. He insisted that they stop by for him to entertain them before they proceeded on their journey. As a result of his beautiful and kind gesture, he got the promise of a child as a blessing from God. In the second, St. Paul rejoiced over the opportunity given him to suffer while rendering service to God and his people. He saw himself as an instrument of God’s mercy, goodness, and teaching to the people. While in the gospel, Martha asked Jesus and said, ‘’Lord do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? And Jesus replied her saying, ‘’ Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it must not be taken from her.’’ This sounds ridiculous to Martha and many of us today. Why should Jesus say that to her?

As Christians we are encouraged to practice the virtue of hospitality and be charitable to our neighbors especially those in need. Abraham gave us a perfect example in the first reading of today. And he was rewarded for that. Martha did good job as well by providing service to Jesus during his visit to their house. This represents and encompasses all the corporal works of mercy that we are encouraged to practice such as: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, providing home to the homeless, visiting the prisoners and the sick, and burying the dead. Mary on the other hand sat down listening to his words. Her action represented the dimension of prayer and contemplation in our lives as Christians. It is important for us to sit and listen to Jesus just as you are doing right now reflecting and savoring the sweetness of his words and his company in our lives as Mary did. This dimension encompasses all the spiritual works of mercy that we are encouraged to practice such as: admonishing sinners, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubt, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrong patiently, forgiving all injuries, and praying for both the living and the dead.

Both Martha and Mary; service and contemplation are two dimension that constitute true discipleship and are inseparable in the life of a Christian. They are meant to be integrated and not to be contrasted in our Christian lives. These dimensions enable us to practice the commandment of love to God in prayer and contemplation, and love of neighbor as ourselves in doing service to them. Therefore, Jesus’ reply to Martha’s question was to caution her not to be distracted from her service and to allow Mary to do what she was doing because it was equally important. When he said Mary chose the better part is to emphases the importance of seeking God’s will first in prayers before embarking on any service that we may want to do. You have to listen to your master’s or teacher’s instruction first before you can carry out the assignment or task given you to do. If you do not do the work according to his instructions you will not get the desired reward or credit for it.

Jesus said only one thing is needed but Martha worry about so many things. That one thing and most important thing is our salvation or going to heaven and be with the Lord. So everything we do as Christian should be geared toward salvation and heaven which is our final destination and ultimate goal. And do not do so in order to impress people rather do them so that God who sees and knows every human mind and intention will reward you accordingly. This one thing is seeking the kingdom of God first and placing God above all things in your life. And do not be distracted by any other thing else especially worldly things. Psalm 27:4 says: ‘’I ask the Lord, one thing I seek, to live in the house of the Lord.’’ In another way we could say listening to the word is much more important than preparing a banquet. Just as it is said that it is better to go where people are mourning than to go where people are celebrating; there you gain more spiritually and have the opportunity to reflect over your life. We also need to be careful not to be carried away by too much work and forget to prayer to the God that gives strength for the work. Have a blessed week.

SIXTEEN SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

 

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The Church is Missionary in Nature by Fr. Joel

According to the second Vatican council, the church is missionary in nature. And her Dont-Delaymission is to evangelize the world and spread the gospel of her master, Jesus Christ. All members of Christ’s church are called upon to participate in this wonderful mission of the church.

In the first reading, the prophet asked the people to rejoice with the city of Jerusalem because of her forth coming joy to them from God. God was going to bless her with abundant blessings and prosperity so that all the people in her shall be comforted and satisfied and will no longer mourn over her or lack anything. In like manner, the Psalm says we should cry out to God with joy for his wonderful blessings upon us.

In today’s gospel reading, we heard Jesus telling his disciples to rejoice that their names are written in heaven; that is after they had accomplished their mission as his disciples. Jesus himself sent seventy two disciples two by two on mission to preach the gospel to the world. These people were not prepared for this mission well ahead of time, but they responded anyway to go on this mission. All they had was their faith, trust, and experience of Jesus with them. Jesus knew they were weak but yet he called them and gave them this great mission to carry out.  And he gave them authority to preach the good news, to heal, bring people into his kingdom, and establish a community of love and peace where people will be rejoicing and praising God.

Every one of us by virtue of our baptism has been called to participate in the mission of the church like these seventy two disciples. St. Paul in the second reading said that he boast of nothing but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was proud of suffering for the sake of our Lord Jesus. And that the sacrifice of following Jesus brings about new creation, peace, love, and mercy to his people. So, because of these he endured all kinds of hardship for the sake of Christ. In the same way anyone who is called to participate in the mission of the church must experience hardship. There are very many of our brothers and sisters who are going through a lot of hard times because of the gospel of Christ in different parts of the world. However, this should not discourage us rather we should be strengthen by their courageous examples. Only through the cross the world can be saved. To participate in the mission of Christ entails carrying the cross with him like St. Paul did.

It is very important to note that Jesus asked them not to carry any luggage with them. This means anything that will serve as a distraction to the mission, especially material possession that could serve as distraction or cause delay of the spread of the gospel, should be avoided by all means. Furthermore, he sent them two by two. This is in line with the passage in Deut. 19: 15 that says; the testimony of two witnesses is required to for establishing a truth. Therefore, the disciples needed other persons to testify to their teaching of the gospel. He also said to them that the harvest is plenty but there are few laborers, so they should pray for more people to join them in this mission. We are having a similar situation today in the church that is why we are praying for more vocations. There is also some sense of urgency to their mission of spreading the gospel because there are many people out there who have not yet heard about the gospel; and others who heard but did not understand or believe it. Therefore, there is need for us to act without delay to make sure that everyone hears this gospel of Christ so that they too can be saved by Jesus. Jesus encouraged them not to bother about what to eat or where to stay because the people to whom they were sent to would provide for their needs. Hence, the saying, the laborer deserves his wages. Therefore, as we contribute and pay our tithes to the church, our ministers, staff, and facilities are being maintained from that. Jesus also warns them about wolves that might want to devour them in the course of their mission. This refers to opponents and persecutors. So, they should watch out for such people and situations.

Every one of is called to this mission in different ways and times. Therefore, all should endeavor to participate according to our calling to bring people into the kingdom of God. Many people need to hear the gospel and to receive from us charitable gestures that will uplift their souls. There are so many problems and challenges faced by many people and they need our help to get out of such situations. We have been called to go on this mission to bring the good news to them. And now is the time, please respond without any delay.

FOURTEEN SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

 

The Ascension of the Lord by Fr. Joel

Forty days after the resurrection of Jesus he ascended to heaven. Forty days is significantthe-ascension number in the scripture. Moses went up to the mountain to seek the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting. The people of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in preparation for their entry into the promise land. Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of the Lord. And for forty days after the resurrection Jesus appeared several times to his disciples to prove to them that he was truly raised from the dead and to prepare them for the mission of bearing witness to the world.

The departure of Jesus was like an end and a beginning at the same for the disciples. It was the end because that was the last time they will see him physically. It was the beginning because they will begin to experience him in a different way going forth. Jesus promised to be there for his disciples always to the end of time. As he ascended into heaven, he promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would empower them and teach them more on how to preach and be his witnesses to the world. Therefore, his departure did not leave them in sorrow but in joy because they were filled with the expectation of the coming of the Holy Spirit that will give them strength.

Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord empowers us to bear witness to the world. The risen Lord is in heaven on his throne reigning over the earth and heaven as king. There, he intercedes for us and empowers us with the help of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to him in the world. This is so that the world will hear from us the message of his gospel and be saved from condemnation.

How can we become effective witnesses of Christ Jesus? When we receive the Holy Spirit it will empower us to be his witnesses to the world. The gospel is the power of God that releases people from the burden of the devil and brings healing and restoration to us all. We are his ambassadors in the world, to represent him and bear his witness. That is the great commissioning given to us as his disciples. And all who believe in him share in this responsibility of spreading the good news. We are to wait on and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit that will empower us to be able to be his witnesses to in the world. We are to bring joy, love, and peace to the world as his disciples. When we receive power from the Holy Spirit we shall bear his witness to the world. We have to dispose and open ourselves for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and strengthen us to do his will. Have faith in him and allow him to come into your life and take possession of you and use you for his work in his kingdom.

We are depressed, sick, unhappy, confuse, and in difficulty because we have not allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives. We rely on human wisdom so much today in our world that is why we cannot be happy and peaceful. Seek the will of God and allow him access into your life to take charge and your life will be wonderful. Discard your pride, selfishness and evil desires and allow God a space in your life and see how happy you will be.

Our world is full of all kinds of distractions: noise, pleasure, power, freedom, additions and so on. That is making us confused and leads us to destruction. We need to have faith in God and allow him to use us for his mission and glory in the world. His ascension is to allow the Holy Spirit to come take control of us and empower us to do his will here on earth. We must be willing and ready for the spirit to manifest in our lives and enable us do his will. Therefore, prepare yourself for the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower you for his mission. At baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and it was strengthen during confirmation. Now, you must open up to the Holy Spirit to empower you do his will on earth.

 

Cry Out with Joy to God by Fr. Joel

 Today’s readings invite us to praise the Lord FOR his suffering, death and resurrection for crossmanour sins. In the first reading, we read how the Sanhedrin and high priest questioned the apostles for preaching about Jesus and blaming them for killing him. And Peter replied, ‘’we must obey God rather than men.’’ The apostles were bold in their presence and they rejoiced that they were suffering for the sake of Jesus. The psalm says, ‘’I will praise you, Lord for you have rescued me.’’ And in the gospel, Peter was asked three times and he responded three times that he loved the Lord more. And he was given the responsibility to feed the flock of God.

This is the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples. This time around it was at the sea of Tiberias where he called the first apostles and they left their work of fishing and followed him to become fishers of men. Out of frustration and disappointment because of what had happened to Jesus, the apostles when back to their old profession of fishing at the same sea they were used to. And Jesus decided to deny them any catch all through the night until he came at dawn and instructed them where to cast the net and the caught a huge number of fish. This story is very important and symbolic. This was to tell them that without him in their lives they can do nothing. They could not recognize him except John the beloved. This also shows that only when you love Jesus that you can recognize he and his will. They caught plenty fish because they obey his instruction. The number 153 represented the different kinds of fish found in that sea that time. And so this in turn represented the different races and nationality that we have in the world. That is why the church is universal. So stop fighting over space and position in the church, there is room for everyone.

Jesus was trying to tell them to go preach and catch all people for his kingdom. And despite the huge catch the net never got torn. That represents the unity of the church in spite of diversity and many people that are inside it and that no force on earth is capable of destroying the church. Three questions about love to Peter were very important and symbolic too. The amount of love was very important in making Peter the leader of the church because if you do not love something and you are given custody of it you will not be serious in doing so. Jesus wanted to be sure Peter had greater love for him before he would give him the responsibility of feeding his sheep. Deeper level of love entails greater level of commitment and sacrifice in your duty. Peter denied Jesus then because his level of love for him was low, therefore, Jesus wanted a higher level of love before he can entrust him with his sheep that he died on the cross for. Saying something three times in most cultures suggest the seriousness of the issue. Jesus asked three times to make sure Peter knows the seriousness of the matter. It was also to remind him of his denial of Jesus three times and meant for him counter them. This was like giving him second chance.  After this we saw how Peter became bold in speaker about Jesus without fear. A good example is in the second reading of today where he told the Sanhedrin that they would rather obey God rather than men. And he continued with this courageous leadership of the church till his crucifixion upside down on the cross for Jesus.

We should learn from this story how to praise the Lord for his goodness to us, to bear witness boldly to him at all times especially difficult times. Learn to share the gospel with everyone and welcome them into the kingdom of God for he is the father of all people. Learn to trust and obey the Lord especially during hard times in our lives because without him we can do nothing.

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C

Blessed are those… by Fr. Joel

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND HAVE BELIEVED

In the first reading we are told that many signs and wonders were performeddoubting_thomas1 by the apostles and many more people came to join them. The second reading is about John’s vision where he heard the voice of the Lord telling him to write what he saw. And when he caught sight of the son of man, he fell down out of fear and reverence to the Lord. But the Lord encouraged him not be afraid but to believe that he is alive and has the key to eternal life.

The gospel is about Thomas one of the apostles who was absent when Jesus appeared to the other apostles and he would not believe them that Jesus came unless he saw and touched Jesus himself. And when Jesus eventually came and showed him his hands, legs and side where the wounds were, and asked him to put his fingers in there, Thomas confessed saying, ‘’ My Lord and my God!’’  And Jesus said to him, ‘’Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed’’

There are many of us who still doubt just like Thomas did so long ago. Many of us want to see evidences and logical proof before we will believe in God. You hear some people say if God is good and loving why is there evil and suffering in life? For others if they don’t get what they want in life then there is no God. And for some the idea God is denying them their freedom to do what they want. That is quite unfortunate. Even with the many signs and wonders in our world that serve as evidence of the existence of God, many people cannot believe in him today.

Jesus said that blessed are those who have not seen but believed in him. It is because of this that we believe and do the things we do in our church. For instance, at the beginning of mass the priest greets the people with the same words of Jesus saying ‘’peace be with you.’’ That is how Jesus greeted his apostle each time he visit with them. Jesus also said, ‘’as the father sent me, so I send you.’’ He breathed on them and said, ‘’receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’’ These we do in the Catholic Church. During ordinations of priests and Bishops this spirit of Christ is passed on to the newly ordained by the anointing and laying of hands. And they send forth to continue spreading the good news. In the sacrament of reconciliation the priests exercise the power of forgiving sins given here by Jesus to his apostles. Let me quickly say this, that priests are bound by confessional seal and cannot reveal whatever they heard from a penitent to anyone for whatever reason, even to a law enforcement agent or under the threat of death. In fact, we do not remember people’s sins after confession. As you leave the confessional your sins are wiped out and forgotten completely, both those confessed and those forgotten. So, reference is not to be made to them at all at any time. Please stop trying to make reference to the sins you confessed the last time you came to confession. Even if we try to  remember, it is not possible to do that because our brains are not like a computer memory that can remember everything and certainly no all the sins of all the people that have come to us for confession.

Another thing that we do in the church that is found from the readings of today is what John in the second reading did, falling to ground to give reverence to the Lord; and what Thomas in the gospel said, ‘’my lord and my God.’’ During consecration we all kneel down except the priest because he is acting in the person of Christ. And when the body and blood of Jesus is raised we all confess my Lord and my God.  Lastly, the very last part of the gospel reading said that not everything that Jesus did was written down, but these that we have are meant to help us believe in him as the source of eternal life. This helps to debunk the argument by some people that they must see everything in the bible before they can believe it. The church still receives revelations from God and she has the power to discern and know the will of God through prayers.

Therefore, cast away your doubts and believe Jesus the son of God, the author of eternal life. Open up your minds and hearts and allow Jesus to come into your life so that you can encounter him. Each time you come to mass know that you have come to worship and encounter Jesus in the entire liturgy from the greeting to the final blessings. Remember the church is not a movie theater or stadium for entertainment even though we could get some kind of entertainment in church but that is not the main reason for coming to church. We come to church to worship God as his family, to listen to him and carry this message to others out there. As the father sent me, I send you too to preach the kingdom of God and Jesus the author of life is truly risen from the death.

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

 

God Does Not Love Sin But … by Fr. Joel

GOD DOES NOT LOVE SIN BUT LOVES THE SINNER AWAYman praying

In today’s readings we see God demonstrating his love for his people in spite of their unfaithfulness. For instance, in the first reading he assured the people of Israel of his love and protection. And in the gospel we see a much more dramatic demonstration of unconditional forgiveness and love through the father to the son who had offended him.

The son collected his own share of inheritance, wealth and left to a distance land and squandered everything in the life sin. When he had finished everything that he had, he became so hungry that he went to work in a swine (pig) farm and wanted to feed himself from the swine’s food. What a disgrace, that the son of a very wealthy father descending so low to the point of wanting to eat with animals. He who exalts himself will be humbled while he who humbles himself will be exalted says Jesus. And of all animals it was swine’s food he wanted to eat. Remember that swine is one of those animal God forbid his people to eat in the Old Testament.

That is what happens if you throw away your dignity and waste your resources in the life of sin. Most times when you did not work hard for and you achieve something on a platter of gold, you tend to be careless and wasteful. That is the situation of this prodigal son.

This son took advantage of his father’s generosity, had no foresight, he was after worldly pleasure and happiness, he was not responsible, and did not want to carry his cross. He just wanted to enjoy life but he ended up suffering instead. That is why Christ said that anyone who wants to enjoy this worldly life to the detriment his soul will lose it, but anyone who suffers and loses his this earthly life for his sake will gain eternal reward.

After suffering and wasting his wealth and life, he came back to his senses and thought of how his father’s servants have more than enough to eat while he is dying of hunger. That is what happens when we are suffering we remember all the good things and opportunities that we have wasted. The good thing is that he admitted his fault, judge, and even condemned himself by saying that he had sinned against God and his father and no longer worthy of being his father’s son. And he wished his father could accept him as one his servants.

He was bold enough and decided to return to the father and apologize to him and with the hope of being accepted as one of the servants. But to his amazement, while he was still far away, his father caught sight of him coming and he ran to him in order to welcome him back home. And his father decided to celebrate his return home in a very special way that made the first son angry. Instead of him being punished for his wrong deed he was celebrated for coming back home. What a kind and merciful father! He was given new clothes (sign of renewal and new beginning in their relationship), shoes (sign of being a legitimate son and not a slave as he wanted), and a ring (sign and seal of their covenant relationship as father and son). And on top of that the calf they have been fattening for years was slaughtered for the celebration. All these was to demonstrate the father’s unconditional love and forgiveness to his son that was lost but is now found, who died and is now back to life.

That is how God is to us, he loves us in spite of our unfaithfulness and is ready to forgive and celebrate our repentance from our sins without any condition attach. When we repent of our sins, we are made clean and new creation by God himself. We regain our lost glory and dignity. Therefore, do not be afraid of coming back to God and his church because he is full of mercy and compassion. Just as the prodigal son was celebrated for returning home that is how the angels, saints, and God in heaven celebrate our repentance.

Many of us are like the prodigal son. We have gone far away from God because of our sins. We have squandered our blessings and destroyed our dignity as children of God. In our effort to seek worldly pleasure and happiness we have brought upon ourselves misery, depression, loneliness, addictions of all kinds, lack of love and peace, and all kinds of evil into our lives. We need to learn from the prodigal son and come back to the father to receive forgiveness and love. We need to reconcile with our families, friends, neighbors, church, and God.

This year and the period of lent are moments in which we are called to come back to Lord and receive his forgiveness and love. Please take advantage of these beautiful opportunities. And as you receive unconditional forgiveness from the Lord, please endeavor to forgive those who wrong us as well. Our forgiveness will not be completed if we do not forgive others who have offended us. Remember what we say always in the prayer Jesus taught us “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’’ Please do not be like the elder son who was angry that the younger son was forgiven and celebrated for coming back home. We must be like the father who forgives without any condition attached.

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR C

 

Love is the Greatest of all Virtues & Gifts by Fr. Joel

A story is told of a man who passed out and was taken to both heaven and hell. After someCHRISTIAN-LOVE-e1429039695744 time he came back to life and started to tell people what he saw over there. He said he saw people in hell given all kinds of food to eat using very long spoons. But because of the length of the spoons they could not eat the food and they were looking very hungry. While in heaven, the people were given the same kinds of food and spoons and they were able to feed themselves and looked very healthy. This is because instead of each person struggling to feed him/her with the long spoons, which was not possible anyway, they decided to be feeding each other. Each person would use the spoon to feed another person and that person does the same to him/her. At the end of the day each person is fed to his/her satisfaction. Since the people in heaven were not selfish and loved each other, they were able to feed themselves, while those in hell could not because they were selfish and lack love for each other. Lack of love is manifested in selfishness to each other.

Today in our second reading St. Paul talked about how love is very relevant to our human community. Love is patient and kind. It is not jealous, pompous, inflated, rude, quick to anger, and celebrate at the misfortune of others, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believe all things, and hope in all things.

All kinds of vices and evils exist in our world today because of selfishness and lack of love. This is demonstrated in individualism, materialism, capitalism, hedonism, gossip, cheating, blackmail, discrimination, injustice and rejection of the truth in our society.

The people, as we read, in the first reading and the gospel demonstrated their rejection of the prophet and Jesus because they told the truth and the people did not want to listen. The people were selfish and lack love for one another, and were not ready to change. Therefore, they attacked them in order to suppress the truth. The people were selfish and did not want to share with others the blessings of God. So, when Christ made reference to how God had blessed others like the Naaman, the Syrian, and the widow at Zarephath in Sidon, they were enraged and wanted to do away with him. All these happened because of the lack of love. God’s love is for all people and not for a selected few. Nobody has the monopoly of the kingdom of God. Anything that we are and are doing, if there is no love it is useless according to St Paul. Love is the greatest of all gifts and virtues any human being can have. God himself is love and anyone who wants to be like him must make love their target in life. You cannot claim to love God when you do not love your neighbor according to John. You cannot claim to be a Christian when you dislike other people. You cannot claim to receive Christ in the Eucharist and at the same time hate your neighbor. For example, refusing to receive communion from certain people and refusing to share the same pew with some people, are clear demonstration of lack of love for others; therefore, you are not supposed to receive Christ who is love himself.

There are other ways that we demonstrate lack of love for one another in our daily lives. We see this in the way we refuse to forgive one another, we refuse to share our resources, in the way we seek divorce in our marriage instead of seeking reconciliation, in the way we demand for justice instead of showing mercy, in the way we isolate one another, refuse to visit or make phone calls to others, discriminate against others, and the way we attack each other. Love is all that we need to be happy in this life and in the next. No one who is selfish and lack love that is a happy person, such people are always miserable in life. We were created to live as community and in love but not in isolation. We need each other to succeed, be happy and to survive this life. Therefore, you must belong to a family and community where there is love for one another, that is, a family that support you spiritually, materially, psychologically, emotionally, and other. That is where we gain our strength and weapon to success and survival in life. Life in heaven is where all the angels and saints live together glorifying the Lord forever with love and no selfishness. Our goal and expectation is to join the saints in this one great community of God. And for us to succeed in joining them, we need to begin to practice those kind virtues and love here and now in this world.

Good Christians should make their love of God and neighbor their number one priority. The gospel is all about love; therefore, we should endeavor to spread it to all people. We have been call and commissioned like Jeremiah and Jesus to preach this gospel of love to the world. Begin with your family and do not give excuses because God has called and empowered us right from our mother’s wombs like Jeremiah. In the face of challenges and difficulty to do so, call on God to assist you with the necessary graces that you need to carry out this divine mandate. Let us allow ourselves to be agents of the good news. Let people see in us the joy of the gospel radiating. A true Christian is a happy person not because of material or world things but because of the grace and love God in him/her. Therefore, if you want to be truly happy give God your time, invest in his business and your interest will be immeasurable. Please try the Lord and see how he will surprise you with love and abundant blessing beyond your imagination.

 FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

The Wedding Feast at Cana by Fr. Joel

A religious education teacher asked his students about their previous lesson which wascana about the wedding feast at Cana, and a little boy of eight years old answered him saying, ‘’our previous class was about how Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding’’. The teacher was impressed and asked another question, ‘’and what did you learned from that lesson?’’ The boy after thinking for some time, answered again saying, ‘’if you are going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus and Mary’’.

Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding at Cana. He transformed water into wine in order to solve the problem of the shortage of wine and to enable the groom to entertain his guests adequately. This was at the insistence of his mother even when it was not yet his time to begin his ministry. This shows us the power of Jesus to do things that humans cannot imagine and how relevant Mary’s intercession is in our lives as we struggle for our salvation.

This miracle also tells us how important marriage is in our lives. While creating humans, God created the first marriage between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We can see from the beginning and all through the Bible that marriage is used as a symbol of God’s covenant relationship with his people. The first reading today from Isaiah talks about God’s faithful love to his people in comparison to a husband’s faithful love to his wife. God is the faithful groom and we are his beloved bride, who is expected to be faithful as well. By virtue of our baptism we have been betrothed to Christ as a bride to her groom (II Cor. 11:2). Our lives as Christians are essentially the lives of marriage relationship with the Lord and with one another in which we are expected to be faithful always. In this our marriage relationships, abundant miracles takes place every day.

We get more of these miracles when we invite Jesus and Mary into our lives. With the intercession of our blessed mother, Mary and the power of her son, Jesus we can overcome and do great things in our lives. However, for these miracles to happen in our lives, we must listen to and do what Mary and Jesus tell us. As the bride of the Lord we are expected to obey and be faithful because he is always faithful.

In the second reading, Paul talked about how Christ has given each one of us new wine, that is, wine of gifts and blessings of the Holy Spirit which will enable us to offer services to God and to one another. We must not be selfish with our gifts and blessings because they are meant for service to God and to one another. Your gifts are for everybody and for you alone.

Therefore, let us invite Jesus and Mary into our lives and marriages always so that we can always receive the miracle of the new wine which is capable of fixing all our problems in marriage and life. We must learn to always take our problems to the Lord for he is capable of solving them for us as he did at the wedding at Cana. Always ask our Mother Mary to intercede for you and you are sure of Jesus’ intervention with a miracle. Do no give up or despair in the face of difficulty, but trust in the power of Mary’s intercession and the power of Jesus’ intervention.

The Feast of All Saints by Fr. Joel

The church is divided into three groups of people: the church triumphant which refers to the saints in heaven, the church All-Saints-3militant which refers to Christians who are still alive struggling for their salvation, and the suffering church which means those in the state of purgatory undergoing purification before going to heaven. In our profession of faith, we often say that we ‘’believe in the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.’’ Today’s celebration is a demonstration of our belief in the communion of the saints both the living and the dead which includes all the three groups. The saints are our brothers and sisters in the big family of God.

Today and throughout this month we shall be celebrating their collective birthdays and memorials as members of our family. For the church triumphant we are celebrating their success and joy in heaven where we hope to be some day and we are also asking them to intercede on our behalf for the graces we need to succeed in our struggles like them and enter heaven. For the suffering church we pray that God should have mercy on them and forgive them their sins so that they can enter heaven like the saints. The suffering church members cannot pray for themselves, so they need our prayers before they are release from purgatory, the place of purification, to heaven where they will in turn intercede for us together with other saints there.

All the readings of today explained the how and glories of becoming saints here on earth and in God’s kingdom. These readings talked about the kind of great joy and peace that characterized the lives of the saints in heaven. We begin to experience this joy and peace here on earth and we are sure of much more of it eventually in heaven. Therefore, we have every reason to celebrate and be joyful because we are children of God with right of inheritance to the kingdom of God. As Christians we are sure of joining the saints in heaven one day.

In the first reading, John described his vision of the servants of God marked on their foreheads that came from different tribes from all over the world wearing white robes and carrying palm branches and crying out loud in worship to God the most high. He said the saints are those who survived great distress and have washed their robes and made them clean with the blood of the lamb. This means to be in communion with God is to be pure like him. This is the kind of heavenly vision of glory that we need to keep in mind as Christians to help us remain in the path to heaven.

The psalm of today tells us that right from the beginning God design man to seek his face which is the only way to true happiness. And to qualify to be in communion with God means to long to be like him (who can ascend the mountain of the lord? Or who may stand in his holy place? The person who can do this is one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain).

In the gospel, this is the kind of life Jesus taught his disciples- how happy and blessed they are if they lived their lives according to his beatitude. The beatitude include: being poor in spirit, mourning for our sins, gentleness of lifestyle, hunger for and thirst for righteousness, merciful lifestyle, pure and peaceful at heart, and suffering insult and persecution for your faith in Christ Jesus. In the beatitude Jesus taught his disciples that true happiness in this life is found only in living out the beatitude.

St. Paul in the second reading said that we are blessed to be call children of God with right of inheritance in the kingdom of God. And that the world hates us because the world does not know God. The Christian life is foolishness to the worldly people. But that we should not be worried about that, rather be concern about what we shall become in heaven; we shall become like him and see him as he really is. However, we must make ourselves pure before we can become like him. The celebration of the saints today reminds us of the fact that so many other people have lived the beatitudes and succeeding in going to heaven. The saints endured so many pains, persecutions, struggles, and humiliation but they are joyful and happy now in heaven. Yes, the world will be against us and the truth that we stand for, but like the saints, we shall be happy if we endure to the end.

Many of us are carried away by the temporal and fake joy and glories that the world offers. Worldly things are the means through which the devil misleads us and destroys us. The craving for material possessions and worldly power is the tactics of the devil to hold us hostage and robs us of our joy and inheritance in the kingdom of God. So, be wise and resist the tricks of the devil and follow the way of the beatitudes that leads to true happiness in the kingdom of God. We are all call upon to emulate the saints in their lifestyle and eventually enter heaven like them. In the same vain, we are call upon to be charitable to the poor today by supporting the works of catholic charities of Dallas

Who is the Greatest? by Fr. Joel

There is a natural tendency in us, human beings to desire greatness and high places in this life. This tendency sometimes greatnessmakes us selfish and act without considering other people around us. Human beings could do anything in order to get whatever they want in this life, including evil things.

In today’s gospel reading we saw how two brothers, James and John, among the disciples of Jesus went to him privately to request to be favored much more than others. That is a clear sign of selfishness and quest for power and better things above others. Jesus used this incident to educate his disciples on the difference between greatness of this world and of his kingdom. Greatness of his kingdom means service, humility, and self-giving to others, but not self-service and selfishness that is associated with the greatness of this world.

In the first reading prophet Isaiah prophesied that the servant of God, through self-giving and suffering, will redeem sinners, give them life, justify them, and accomplish God’s will. The psalm says that the upright person is trustworthy, loves justice, right, kindness, and places his/her trust in the Lord. These are attributes of one who want to be great in God’s kingdom.

We are always ready to suffer for our selfish gain but not for the common good of humanity. Our culture and society encourage us to be selfish and greedy-to pursue worldly pleasures, happiness, and greatness at all cost. That is why we have become materialistic and consumers of all kinds of goods and services including those harmful to our lives. We have become so addicted to all kinds of commercials so much so that we keep spending money on a daily basis to purchase them.

Today even kindness, love, mercy, marriages, relationships, bearing children, going to school are done for money’s sake. Whatever does not have some financial gain in it we are not interested. Many people divorce, separate, quit relationships because of money and power. Other people tell lies, blackmail, and persecute others because of money and power. Some people give fake services and goods such as food, medicine, treatments which might be detrimental to human lives for the sake of money and power. Today people kill and destroy property for the sake of money and power, for instance, the crisis and war in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The promotion of ideologies such as planned parenthood, contraception, same sex union, mercy killing, atheism, and the freedom to do what you want is all because of money and power to control. Yes everyone wants to be in-charge, in control or the boss, then who become their servants?

Remember that worldly greatness is temporal but greatness in the kingdom of God is everlasting. Which one do you prefer? Being a servant to others is what qualifies you to be great in God’s kingdom. You do not need too much or deadly struggles to become great in his kingdom. All you need do is serve others and you will become great forever in his kingdom. So why suffer that much to become great only for short time in this world instead of struggling to be great forever in his kingdom? Our mission is to give ourselves and resources to build God’s kingdom.

The second reading said that Jesus is our high priest who understands and sympathizes with our weaknesses and is ever ready to grant us forgiveness and the grace that we need to become servants to others in order to become great forever in his kingdom. So go to him with confidence and ask for his mercy and grace to become servants and great in God’s kingdom.

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