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Our God is Merciful, Compassionate and Loving by Fr. Joel

The first reading of today talked about God’s mercy and compassion to his people. Itreet said that God overlooks people’s sins that they may repent and receive his mercy and compassion. God rebukes offenders and reminds them of their sins so that they can come back to him. God loves all the things that he has created. Psalm said, ‘’I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.’’ It is a song of thanksgiving to the Lord for his mercy and compassion to his people.
In the second reading, Saint Paul assured the Thessalonians of his prayers for them so that the purpose and will of God will be done in their lives always. Furthermore, he cautioned them not to panic regarding any false teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ that is not coming from true ministers of God. These are very important lessons for us as well. We should learn to pray for one another so that God’s will shall be done in our lives. In addition, we should be careful of false prophets and their false teachings so that we are not deceived by them and then lose our salvation.
In the Gospel, Jesus showed mercy and compassion to Zacchaeus, a sinner. Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector who cheated people in his job. He wanted to see Jesus but could not because he was a short man. Therefore, he climbed up a tree to be able to see Jesus. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and asked Zacchaeus to climb down the tree. Jesus followed Zacchaeus to his house and said to him salvation has come to your house today. The people were surprised that Jesus went to the house of a sinner. However, Jesus came to the world to call sinners to repentance. With this gesture from Jesus, Zacchaeus repented of his sins and promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back those he cheated four times more. All the readings of today are centered on the theme of God’s mercy and compassion.
Unfortunately, instead of taking advantage of God’s mercy and compassion and repenting of our sins, we are promoting and committing more sins day by day. We see God as a terror. We see his commandments as oppressive rules for us to follow. We want the kind of freedom our secular world is offering us to do as we want to. We talk about justice and freedom for all but we are denying the most vulnerable freedom and justice. The abortion of unborn children and adoption of children by same sex couples are injustices done to innocent children. We deny them their rights and freedom to a better life because of our selfish desires. The minorities and less powerful in our society are denied opportunity to prosper like others. We cheat and extort from the less privilege in our society. We segregate and discriminate against those who are different from us. In the name of civilization we commit and support all kinds of evil and atrocities. True civilization can only be attain when the less privilege and most vulnerable are protected. True civilization, freedom, and justice can only be achieved when the the same opportunities to develop and live a better life are given to everyone in society. Every one of us is guilty in one way or the other. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Therefore, we are like Zacchaeus, short because of our sins and as a result we are unable see Jesus. Our sins serve as stumbling blocks between us and Jesus. Sin stops us from being in communion with the Lord. We need to climb up a tree like Zacchaeus in order to be able to see Jesus. The tree we need to climb is the sacrament of reconciliation. In this sacrament we ask God for forgiveness and receive his mercy and love. We need to repair the damages we have caused others and ourselves too. We need to apologize to those we have cheated and mistreated and pay back to them for what we have done them. Our prayers and sacrifices will not be accepted if we do not repent and correct our mistakes. The Lord said that we must keep aside our offerings and sacrifices and go make peace with those we have wronged first before we can offer him worthy sacrifices. He also said in ‘’the Lord’s Prayer’’ that we should forgive other just as we want him to be forgive us. Therefore, repentance and forgiveness is very important for every Christian to be able to relate well with God and one another.
Please do not be afraid for God is willing, at any time, to show us his mercy and love. All we need to do is to make effort just as Zacchaeus did and salvation will come into our lives. Our sins are excess luggages that are not need for our spiritual journey. Therefore, we need to get rid of our sins as soon as possible to have an easy and smooth journey. Christ came to the world and died on the cross because of our sins. Let us go to him to receive his mercy and love. Do not allow the devil hold you hostage in his kingdom of darkness. Instead come to Jesus and enjoy freedom, light, and peace in his kingdom.
It is honorable and a blessing, as Christians, to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others as well. Forgiveness is a difficult thing to do, but is very important in our lives as Christians. Lack of forgiveness means carrying a great burden and is a disaster to a Christian. It robs us of our joy and peace. It breeds hatred, division, and violence in our society. Therefore, we need to forgive in order to receive forgiveness as well. We need to forgive in order to experience peace and joy in our society. Therefore, let us repent of our sins and forgive those who have wronged us. Let us emulate Zacchaeus who made effort to see Jesus and after encountering the mercy and love of Jesus, he repented and repaired the damages he had caused himself and his victims of corruption.
Lastly, as we prepare to vote, please pray and ask God to guide you to vote those who will promote peace and love but not those who will promote evil in our society. We may not have perfect candidates but, at least, vote for those who will promote better life and lesser evils in our society.

THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
OUR GOD IS MERCIFUL, COMPASSIONATE AND LOVING

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Parable of the Unjust Steward by Fr. Joel

Jesus wants us to be as clever as serpents and as gentle as doves. In the first reading, Amos warned the richunjust-steward-400x400 and those who take advantage of the less privileged in our society. He said that the Lord will judge them and punish them for cheating the poor in our society.

The Psalm said we should praise the Lord who lifts up the poor. This means God is the defender and protector of the poor people. In the second reading St. Paul encouraged us to pray for one another especially for those in authority. This will enable us obtain peace and joy in society. Furthermore, he instructed us to ensure that everyone gets to know about the good news in order to be saved.

In the gospel we read the story of a dishonest steward who misused his master’s property and the master decided to terminate his work. Though, the master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently in planning for his future so that he will not be stranded and be without a place to go after he had been laid off. He is praised for being wise with worldly things.

But we children of light, Christians do not possess such kind of wisdom in spiritual matters. We do not prepare for the future especially spiritually for death. We do not prepare ourselves for heaven, our future and eternal home the way we prepare for our earth home. Today we are being called to be wise as this steward and prepare for the future, heaven, using our resources here on earth.

‘’Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.’’ This means we should be generous with our possessions so that we can gain more blessings from and be with God. If you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, worldly things, who will trust you with true wealth, eternal wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, the excess wealth you have which belong to others, who will give you what is yours, your inheritance in heaven? This means, if we cannot be generous with our material possessions, especially the excess which technically belongs to the poor, you will not get to heaven and see God. He said that no servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Therefore, use your resources to serve the Lord and the less privilege people around you.

Do we use money to further the kingdom of God? Do we try to see the good in people, their potentials? We should be prudent in managing our resources in order to get rewarded and gain salvation. We should use them to store up treasure for ourselves in heaven. As servants of God we should not be dishonest in our dealings with God and his people. Rather be sincere stewards and use whatever God has given you to serve him and humanity. We should use our resources and position to help others and gain rewards in heaven. Do not use your position and resources to oppress or take advantage of the less privileged in society. We have been called to be good stewards in our families and communities. Please ensure that you are an honest and a good steward before God in order to receive an excellent reward in heaven from him.

 TWENTY FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

THE PARABLE OF THE UNJUST STEWARD

 

 

 

God is Compassionate and Merciful by Fr. Joel

 

Our God is full of compassion and mercy to his people. In the first reading God told shackledhandsMoses to go down from the mountain because the people had made for themselves a god, a molten calf to worship and offer sacrifice to it. By so doing, the people were rejecting the God that brought them out of the land of Egypt, the land of slavery and bondage. The Lord was angry with them and wanted to destroy them and make a great nation from Moses instead. But Moses on the other hand pleaded with the Lord not to destroy the people and reminded the Lord of his promise to the people, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to make their descendants as many as the stars in sky. The Lord listened to Moses and demonstrated his mercy to them and he did not destroy the people.

The Psalm said, ‘’I will rise and go to my father.’’ It is a song of repentance to the Lord for our sins. In this song, we ask the Lord to forgive us and not to destroy us. In the second reading, St. Paul gave thanks to God for forgiving him and calling him into his ministry in spite of what he had done to the church (persecution). The Lord was merciful to him and gave him the opportunity to minister to his people. In the same way, Christ came to call us, sinners, to repentance and to participate in his mission of evangelization of the world.

In the Gospel, Christ was accused of eating with tax-collectors and sinners by the Pharisees and Scribes. This was a taboo then in the Jewish tradition for a rabbi to interact with sinner and tax-collectors. Jesus replied to them using the following parables. First, is the parable of the lost sheep in which the shepherd left 99 sheep to go in search of one missing sheep and when he found it he called his friends and neighbors to celebrate with him. Second, is the parable of the lost coin in which the woman who lost one out of ten coins, light her lamp and swept the floor of the house until she found it, then, she celebrated with her neighbors. Last, is the parable of the prodigal son who collected his own share of the father’s property and left for a distant country where he squandered everything and later became so hungry that he wanted to eat with pigs in order to survive. Then he realized his mistake and decided to go back to his father and ask for forgiveness and to be accepted not as a son but a slave instead. But on his return home, his father saw him from a far and ran to welcome him home. The father decided to celebrate his return in special way. The elder son was not happy with the father’s love, mercy, and lavish celebration of his younger brother who was wasteful and deserved to be punished. On top of that the father gave the younger son new clothes, shoes, and ring to symbolize that his position, rights and privileges as his son has been reinstated.

All these readings and parables demonstrated the compassion and mercy of God to his people. He does not judge nor condemn the sinners but celebrates their return and repentance to him. Likewise the angels and saints in heaven they celebrate each time we repent of our sins. If this is how our God is why do we delay coming back to him and repent of our sins? No matter how many or terrible our sins are, the Lord is ready to forgive us and use us for his mission here on earth. All we need do is to make up our minds and return/repent. There are no any jail terms or death sentence on us if we come back to him, instead we shall receive joy and peace. We will be release from the shackles of the devil and be made clean of our iniquities.

We are guilty of so many sins just like the people of Israel. For example, pride, idolatry, doubt, persecuting others, Ignorant, in fact we are lost like the prodigal son and have gone far away from God. Living in sin is slavery to the devil. Remember the devil was an angel who disobeyed God and is undergoing punishment. Therefore, he is looking for disciples to join him in the kingdom of darkness. Please do not succumb to his tricks or temptations. Stand strong and resist him by all means. Let us take advantage of the compassion and mercy of the Lord and gain our freedom from the devil so that we can enjoy peace and love from God the father. Also remember to pray and come for forgiveness of your sins and pray for others just as Moses did, forgive others just like God does to sinners. The sacrament of reconciliation is there to help us come back to God. Please know that repentance and forgiveness are the secrets of happy life in a family and a community.

Please learn and know how to confess your sins to the priest. Wait for appropriate time to go for confession. Do not feel guilty whenever you remember past sins that you did not confess because they were forgiven already at your last confession. Never make reference to the sins that you confessed last time because they have been forgiven and are not to be remembered. Begin to count your sins for next confession from the moment you leave the confessional. Be honest, specific and call your sins by their names and not by numbers or symbols. Confession time is not time for long counselling or for story telling because others are waiting to confess as well.

TWENTY FOURTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

GOD IS COMPASSIONATE AND MERCIFUL TO HIS CHILDREN

 

The Narrow Gate is the Only Way by Fr. Joel

narrow gate2In the first reading, the Lord said he will gather all nations to come and see his glory. This he will achieve by his open invitation to everyone and by using us, his disciples to reach out to those who have not heard or seen his glory and bring them like offerings to the Lord and the Lord will use them as well for his work and to manifest his glory in the world. The Psalm instructs us to go out to the entire world and tell the good news. This mean everyone is invited into the kingdom of God. And no one should be an obstacle to anyone else’s opportunity to enter the kingdom of God. We are all invited and instructed to invite others to come into the kingdom of God. We can do this by proclaiming the good news to the world by our words and deeds.
Second reading talks about discipline of the Lord. It says for whom the Lord loves he disciplines. Endure your trials as discipline. The word discipline has the same root with the word disciple. A disciple is one who is being disciplined or undergoing some training for a goal. Therefore, discipline should not be seen as a punishment or a curse, rather as a source of strength and stamina that brings about great achievements and successes in the life of the disciples. As a result of discipline, we can grow in righteousness. Discipline is a training and attitude that helps us to achieve our goals in life and salvation. When you discipline yourself you will be organized, successful and as a result experience peace, joy, and happiness here on earth and eventually in heaven with the Lord.
The gospel teaches us to enter through the narrow gate, the kingdom of God. Only those who have disciplined themselves can enter this gate. If you are not disciplined, the gate of heaven will not be open for you to enter. The key to success and any achievement is discipline and hard work. To achieve heaven we must discipline ourselves by listening and keeping to the teachings of our Lord. If you do not discipline yourself and work hard, you will surely regret it in future. Therefore, if we do not discipline ourselves and pass through the narrow/difficult gate, we shall be rejected on the last day. And we will see others come from behind, pass us, and achieve salvation while we will be thrown to the place where there is wailing and grinding of teeth with the devil.
Therefore, the criteria for entering heaven are discipline, hard work, and entering through the narrow or difficult gate. This means having faith in God, listening to, and doing the will of God in your life and avoiding evil. Everyone has been invited to enter the kingdom through this narrow gate. There are no short cuts or any other ways other than that. No one has advantage over others because of race, color, nationality, family background or gifts but everyone has the opportunity to get to heaven if they follow through the narrow gate. But only your faith and good works will take you to the kingdom of God.

TWENTY FIRST-SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THE NARROW GATE IS THE ONLY WAY TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Be Vigilant & Strong in Faith by Fr. Joel

 

In the first reading, we are told that the people of Israel had faith in God to fulfill hisstrong faith promises to them and deliver them from their enemies. The Psalm said that blessed are the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. The second reading said that faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. And reference was made to Abraham who demonstrated his faith by obedience to the call to go out to an unknown place to receive his inheritance. He journeyed into the unknown in a foreign land but with great hope for the fulfillment of God’s promise in his life. Even though himself and Sarah, his wife, had past the age of child birth and Sarah was sterile, he trusted in the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to him anyway.

The fulfilment of God’s promised to give him numerous descendants as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the sea shore started with the birth of Isaac, their only son.  And shortly afterward his faith was tested again, he was asked to offer his only son, Isaac, the fulfilment of God’s promise, as a burnt offering to the Lord. Abraham again, full of faith agreed and went to offer Isaac as requested by the Lord. He trusted God could still fulfil his promise anyway.

In the gospel, Jesus said to his disciples not to be afraid anymore for their father is willing to give them the kingdom. He urged them to give away their possessions as alms to others and acquire great treasures in heaven that cannot be destroyed or stolen by thieves because where your treasure is that is where your heart will be.

Get ready and be awake as servants waiting for the coming of their master to open the door for him. Those servants who are found ready and awake to open the door for the master shall receive a beautiful reward and enter the kingdom of God. This means we should prepare for the second coming of the Lord at any time by being pure and holy in our words and deeds. Keep doing good works as good stewards and bear good fruits in your lives for when the Lord comes he shall reward you greatly. Do not be discouraged and distracted by anything for he will surely come but at a time you do not know.

Remain strong in faith and work hard so that you are not found wanting on the arrival of the master and thrown in a place together with the evil one where there is everlasting pain. He also said for those of us who know more about his teaching and refuse to live accordingly, we shall be more severely punish than others who knew little or nothing about it.

Many of us take things for granted, thinking we still have plenty time left to live on earth. We all know that death can come or strike at any time at our door steps. Some of us rebel against God and refuse to live good lives because God has not given us what we wanted or some misfortunes have befallen us. We need to know that God is a mystery, difficult to understand by humans. His ways are different from ours. He has a way of doing things that is beyond our understanding.  He has a way of answering our prayers either positively or negatively for our own good but we cannot understand it. Sometimes he allows us to go through pain and suffering just as he did to his son Jesus Christ on the cross. Why he does that is known to him alone. Therefore, no matter what situation we find ourselves let us not give up on him but remain vigilant and strong in faith because he is capable of fulfilling his promises to us as he did to Abraham.

Let us not give room for the devil to use us and lead us astray from God’s will. Just keep doing God’s will always and his promises shall be fulfilled in your life. Avoid all kinds of evils such as: malice, greed, jealousy, selfishness, cheating and wickedness and show love to your neighbors. Begin now to live the kind of life that you will like death to find you living, a life that will merit you heaven. Love God with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

NINETEEN SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

BE VIGILANT AND STRONG IN FAITH

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

 

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.

 

Marriage as a Divine Institution by Fr. Joel

Wedding ringsToday we celebrate marriage and family as instituted by God himself. It is a holy union between a man and woman who are open to accepting and nurturing children. That is the plan of God for marriage and family. The family is the smallest but most important unit in society. It is the foundation and pillar of society. Therefore, it has to be cherished and protected by all means for the good of humanity and society.

In the first reading of today, God said, ‘’it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a suitable partner for him.’’ And of all that God created, none proved to be the suitable partner for man. So, God made man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep, God took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. God then used this rib to create a woman and brought her to the man, and the man said, ‘’this one, at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ’woman’ for out of man this one has been taken.’’ This is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.

In the gospel, the Pharisees asked Jesus whether it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife. And Jesus referred them to the laws of Moses which permitted them to do so because of their stubbornness of heart. But, that right from the beginning of creation God made one man and one woman so that they can be joined together and become one flesh and no longer two. And that what God has joined together, no human being must separate. That is no divorce. And that whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery. These are the words of Jesus from the Bible directly. The church only teaches and enforces this teaching about marriage and she has no right or power to change it. Even though some people argue that the bible was written by human beings. That is true. Human beings wrote it but it is not human words, God gave them and they wrote it down. We know the story of how Moses went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. They were not his commandments. He was simply a messenger of God.

So when people are questioning these laws, they are questioning God’s authority. The fundamental understanding of marriage is being questioned by modern society. Some people feel that the church should change these laws and allow them do what they want. For example to redefine marriage is to question God’s authority and plan on marriage and the family. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and he does not change. He is our creator and master of all things and civilizations. We are to conform to his teaching and not him to conform to our wishes or ways. For us to be truly happy as human beings, we need to obey his laws.

Marriage is a divine institution created by God for the good of human beings and society. It is the union of love and life-giving- love that brings forth life to the world. That is, in marriage, you are participating in God’s divine plan and creation of the world. Anything other than that is not marriage according to God’s plan and design for the world. Marriage is a life of sharing as in a community. It entails sacrifice and self-giving, collaboration, humility, sacrifice, suffering and service to each other. And so if you are selfish, greedy, unforgiving, and afraid of sacrifice and suffering, you are not a good partner in marriage. Many people are not happy in marriage and want to divorce because they are not willing to share and sacrifice. Both of you must work hard and contribute to make your marriage work and make your home a happy, peaceful and loving place for you and your children.

Jesus had high regard for marriage that is why he compared it with his relationship with the church. He is the head while the church is the body, and separating the two is disaster and death. Moreover, he had high regard for children who were considered like property in the Jewish culture. Jesus proposes them as our instructors to receive God’s kingdom. If you want to enter the kingdom of God, you must accept little children and be like them. Marriage is the place where children are born and nurtured. And it is the primary responsibility of parent to take good care of them. If you are not willing to accept children from God in your marriage, you are not following God’s will.

Please endeavor to do all it takes to maintain and sustain your marriage and family. Listen to God’s plan and will for marriage and the family and not some selfish human thinking. Listen to the truth that will make you happy and set you free now and on the last day. Choose today, either to marry and have a family according to God’s plan and will or according to you selfish desire. The choice is yours.

 TWENTY SEVENTH SUNDAY OF YEAR B, 2015

Jesus Christ is Truly Present in the Euvharist by Fr. Joel

The Eucharist is truly the body and blood of our Jesus Christ; he is really presence in the Eucharist. This has been a real-presencecontroversial issue for a long time in the history of Christianity. Orthodox Catholics have always believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist while some dissident Catholics and protestants denied it, arguing that it is merely a sign and not real presence of Jesus.

The Catholic Church has base her position on biblical texts like the one we read today in the gospel passage. Jesus proclaimed himself to be the food of eternal life, that people must eat his body and drink his blood before they gain eternal life. His listeners were shocked, confused, and some disagreed with him and left him. They said, ‘’how can this man give us his flesh to eat?’’ And Jesus did not call them back to say he was joking or that it was only symbolic. Instead, he insisted that, ‘’if you do not eat his flesh and drink his blood, you will have no life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day, for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.’’ Since Jesus did not changed his statement even when some of his listeners were leaving, it means he was not joking about it, take it or leave it.

In Mt 26:26-28 Jesus said to his disciples: take and eat; this is my body. Then he took the cup and gave it to them and said take and drink from it, for this is my blood of the new covenant which will be shed for the forgiveness of sins. And he commanded his disciples to do this in memory of him. That is, he gave them power to make his body and blood present at the altar for the people as we do each time we celebrate mass. In Lk 24:30-34, Jesus was made known to the disciples at Emmaus at the breaking of bread, the Eucharist. Besides these texts, there are numerous Eucharistic miracles recorded in different parts of the world. Check these Eucharistic miracles even on the internet and will see what I am saying.

Today, we have many people who protest and do not believe in the Eucharist and real presence of Jesus in it. If you do not believe in it, please you are not supposed to receive communion. Even if you believe, you must prepare yourself before you can receive, so that you do not take upon yourself judgment from God. 1Cor.11:23-29, talks about the consequences of receiving the body and blood of Christ without adequate preparation. Therefore, you must be under the state of grace, which means being without sin; believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; believe and agree with the teaching of the Catholic Church; you must be in good standing with the Catholic Church, which means having the proper sacraments from the Catholic Church that qualifies you to receive. So, Protestants and those who have deviated from the teaching and practice of the Church are not allowed to receive, until they correct their mistakes and position with the Church. Receiving Holy Communion signifies our union with Christ and with one another as one body of Christ. So, you cannot protest or go against the body of Christ and still be in communion with her. You cannot receive what you do not believe in. That is a contradiction.

I want you to ask yourself whether you are in communion with God and his church. Do you believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? Do you make adequate preparation before receiving communion? Do you believe in the teachings and practices of the church? What effort are you making to grow in union with God and his church? We take time to be with our friends and family members, which is a good thing to do, but have you thought of taking time to be with the Lord and his children, the family of God? (Such as attending the ACTS retreat, attending a religious formation class, and fellowship with any of our ministries) When last did you visit the Blessed Sacrament? Why are you not receiving communion? When are you going to get rid of that obstacle to enable you to start receiving communion? Why do you doubt the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the teaching of the Church about it?

Catholicism is the fullness of Christianity because it teaches and practices the complete truth about Christianity. I am proud to be a Catholic because I know I am in the true Church of Christ; the Church that teaches and practices the complete truth. To leave the Catholic Church to become protestant is leaving the full truth to accept only half truth. Only the Catholic Church practices the complete teaching of the Bible. Other Churches only pick and choose what they want to believe and leave the rest. I challenge you today to make effort to know the truth about your faith as a Catholic so that no one will mislead you to leave the full truth and go for half-truth. Make time to read the Bible and other Catholic literatures that will help you know the complete truth and stop listening to those who only know half of the truth.

TWENTIETH SUNDAY 2015

Love is the Law by Fr. Joel

A story is told of Saint John Paul II who visited a place in his home country, Poland, and was to meet with the staff of a Easter, Week 6, Gospel, Englishparticular building. Upon reaching there, he saw a woman he has known for a long time, and he violated the protocol and he said, ‘’Mary what are doing here?’’ and went to embrace her first. This was because he was able to recognize her among the staff members. The woman was overcome with joy because the Pope recognized her, and she shed tears. This is how every one of us feels when you are recognized by other people. The feeling that you are important and loved is wonderful to every person.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘’I call you friends,’’ because, according to him, He has taught them, his disciples everything about himself and the father. Furthermore, he tells disciples, ‘’ you are not servants but friends; it was not you who chose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruits that will remain.’’ What a privilege to be chosen and not to be left out. That is the attitude of our God: He searches for us every now and then. We are called and chosen for joy. Jesus said, ‘’I told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.’’ The Christian way of life may be tough, but surely the end result is always joyful. Joy and love is the sign of God’s presence in us. The purpose of the gospel is to bring good news and the love of God to people. And it is our duty to bring this gospel to all people of the earth. However, we cannot give people this joy if we ourselves are not joyful in our lives.

Jesus is indeed a real friend to us. A real friend will not abandon you, in every situation he is there with you and for you. Jesus is a friend that carries and bears all our sins. All we need do is to carry our sins to him. What a privilege we have in Christ Jesus!

By virtue of our baptism we have been called to serve others. We are to serve the way Christ served: service with humility, selflessness, joy, and love. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians said, ‘’If I speak in tongues of men and angels, but without love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understanding of mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have no love, I gain nothing (Cor. 13: 1-2). This means love is central to our services as Christians.

St. John would say, ‘’My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and anyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.’’ He will never call us to give if He has not first given us. We can only give what we have received. So if we have not received from him, we are not expected to give since we cannot give what we do not have. In the gospel of John, the word love is mentioned several times. Our Lord, Jesus made love the central command of our Christian life. He said, ‘’ love one another as I have loved you. Jesus also said that we should remain and abide in his love. This denotes a deeper intimacy with him so much so that we become one with him. This love is different from emotional love; it is an attitude with a sense of responsibility toward someone, and this attitude is that of care and concern. It is the kind of love that involves conscious activities toward others, such as sacrificing, sharing, supporting, accepting, and accommodating one another as brothers and sisters.

Unfortunately, we live in world that is full of hatred, violence, division, and discrimination against one another. And the only weapon that can be used to overcome all of these is love. Love is a powerful weapon that can be used to defeat envy, jealousy, pride, hatred, betrayal, injustice and all forms of evil in our world. It is the most effective medicine to cure division and discrimination and build bridges of friendship among people of diverse cultural background. Therefore, our duty as Christians is to use this powerful weapon to heal the world of her wounds.

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER 2015