Saturday, October 12, 2019


OT XXVIII [C]: II Kgs 5:14-17; II Tm 2:8-13; Lk 17:11-19

Winston Churchill loved to tell the story of the little boy who fell off a pier into deep ocean water. An older sailor, heedless of the great danger to himself, dove into the stormy water, struggled with the boy, and finally, exhausted, brought him to safety. Two days later the boy’s mother came with him to the same pier, seeking the sailor who rescued her son. Finding him, she asked, “You dove into the ocean to bring my boy out?” “I did,” he replied. The mother angrily demanded, “Then where’s his hat?” In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of nine ungrateful lepers.
Normally the Jews and the Samaritans did not mix together, yet this group of lepers consisted of both Jews and a Samaritan. Their misery brought them together. Often it is misery that helps us shed their pride and come down to the level of others. Out of those ten, the one who was a foreigner, was the only one who returned and thanked Jesus. The Old Testament prescribed that when a Jewish leper was healed, he had to go to the local priest to confirm that he was now clean and permitted to mix among the general public. For the Samaritan, he had to go to his own priest near Mount Gerizim. This demand of Jesus required a greater act of obedience because of the long travelling involved. While the demand was greater upon the Samaritan, he was the only one to show gratitude for the gift of healing that he received.

Gratefulness is such an important virtue, that God put it at the very center of Christian worship: the celebration of the Eucharist. Now, in creating and redeeming us, God has done us a favor much bigger than anything we could ever do for him. As the responsorial psalm said: The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Fr. Roger Landry beautifully explains the connection between the Holy Mass and Jesus’ thanksgiving. Every Mass we’re called to grow in this spirit of thanksgiving, because the Eucharist is Jesus’ own prayer of Thanksgiving to the Father. The Greek word from which we derive the word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” During the Mass, the priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” Everyone responds, “It is right and just.” And then the priest replies with a saying of great theological depth: “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God.” Before Jesus said the words of consecration on the night he would be betrayed, on the vigil of his crucifixion, he took bread and, as we will hear anew today, “gave thanks.” He gave thanks because he was constantly thanking the Father. He gave thanks because he knew that the Father would bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil of all time which would happen to him after the Mass was done. He gave thanks because it would be through his passion, death and resurrection, that Jesus would institute the means by which we would be able to enter into his own relationship with the Father. The Mass is the school in which we participate in Jesus’ own thanksgiving, the thanksgiving the Church makes continuously from the rising of the sun to its setting.

St. Paul tells us to give thanks to God in all circumstances. How do we give thanks in all circumstances? Here are two practical tips.
At the end of each day, dedicate a few minutes to reviewing the gifts God has given us, and thanking him for them. This keeps our hearts alive with gratitude.
And secondly, it’s vital to form the habit of thanking God throughout the day. When something good happens, say “Thank you Jesus for your friendship and your love.” When something unpleasant happens, still say “Thank you Jesus, for your friendship and your love.”

Daniel Defoe gave us some good advice through his fictitious character Robinson Crusoe. The first thing that Crusoe did when he found himself on a deserted island was to make out a list. On one side of the list he wrote down all his problems. On the other side of the list he wrote down all of his blessings. On one side he wrote: I do not have any clothes. On the other side he wrote: But it’s warm and I don’t really need any. On one side he wrote: All of the provisions were lost. On the other side he wrote: But there’s plenty of fresh fruit and water on the island. And on down the list he went. In this fashion he discovered that for every negative aspect about his situation, there was a positive aspect, something to be thankful for. It is easy to find ourselves on an island of despair. Perhaps it is time that we sit down and take an inventory of our blessings.”

Besides thanking God say sincere thanks to someone who really helped you in your life, your spouse or your parents; or it could be a note to a coworker or a friend who’s been there for you. Gratitude makes us more like God, and opens our hearts to a deeper relationship with him. It’s something we won’t regret. 

In gratefulness to the God of Israel, Naaman carried a load of soil with him from Israel so that he could stand in that soil and worship the God of Israel everyday to thank Him for healing him of his leprosy.  Instead of carrying the soil from Calvary we come and stand at the foot of the cross in spirit and join that sacrifice of Jesus every Sunday. Let’s offer everything him of ours for the wonderful gift of salvation he gave us.
Today, and every Sunday, let's be like the grateful Samaritan: let's do it with all our hearts.



Saturday, October 5, 2019


OT XXVII [C] Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4; II Tm 1:6-8, 13-14; Lk 17:5-10

Many years ago, a famous shoe company sent one of its salespeople to a faraway country to start a business.  After a few months he sent back the message: “I am coming home. Nobody wears shoes here.”  The same company sent another salesperson to the same backward area.  After a few months she sent this message to the home office: “Send more order forms! Nobody wears shoes here! Hence, I can sell more shoes.”  The second salesperson saw the opportunity in her situation – not the difficulty.  She succeeded because she had faith in her product, faith in the people and faith in her ability to canvass customers.   Today’s readings tell us that if we have a little Faith – even the smallest amount – in God’s power, which He is glad to share with us, then we’re on the right track.

All three readings of today speak a lot about “Faith” and how it works in our lives. The first reading defines Faith as trust and steadfast expectation in the face of suffering and delay. The second reading explains why Faith gives us a new way of looking at things and a new way of living.  Paul reminds Timothy, and us that Faith is our acceptance of Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his Apostles that Faith allows us to share in God’s power, and, hence, even in small quantities, deep Faith enables Him to work miracles in our lives and in the lives of others. It is Faith which makes one just, putting him into right relation with God and neighbor. While the Apostles ask for an increase in the quantity of their Faith, Jesus reminds them, and us, that the quality of their faith is more important. He used the parables of the mustard seed and the good servant to help them understand the need for strong Faith.  For Faith to be effective, it must be linked with trust, loving obedience and total commitment — an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever He commands, even in tough times. Jesus reminds them that it is not the greatness of their Faith, but rather the greatness of God’s power working through them that will move mountains (Mt 17:20; Mk 11:23).   A mustard seed is very tiny; there is a chance of losing it if it is not handled carefully. Likewise, Faith: if it is not handled carefully there is a chance of losing it. We have to feed Faith.
At the end of World War II, it is reported, the Allied soldiers were searching farmhouses for snipers. In one abandoned house, which was almost a heap of rubble, they had to use their flashlights to get to the basement. On the crumbling wall, they spotted a Star of David.  It had obviously been scratched by a victim of the Jewish Holocaust. And beneath it was the following message in clear but rough lettering: “I believe in the sun -even when it does not shine.  I believe in love – even when it is not shown. I believe in God – even when He does not speak.” -Like the Holocaust victim who had inscribed those uplifting words on the basement wall, Mother Teresa believed in the sun-even when it did not shine. She believed in love -even when it was not shown. And she believed in God -even when God did not speak. In her secret and personal letters Mother Teresa revealed that for almost 50 years, she went through what is best described as “the dark night of the soul,” driving her to doubt the existence of Heaven and even God. Said a Jesuit priest, Fr. James Martin, “I have never read a saint’s life where the saint has had such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented.” Like all of us, Mother Teresa was but human. And it is only natural that we, like her, will experience times of doubt, loneliness, dryness and even denial. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!”

We need to grow in Faith by using the means Christ has given us in His Church.  We must cultivate our Faith through prayer, Bible study, and leading a well-disciplined spiritual life. Faith is the gift of God—so we must pray that God will increase our Faith. Time spent with God in prayer is fundamental to the development of Faith.  We must pray for a Faith that is strong enough to overcome the difficulties and crises we face daily.  In addition, association with people of Faith builds Faith.  Hence, our participation in the Holy Mass (“the mystery of Faith”), and the life of the Church is important.   Sacred Scriptures inform and correct our Faith. Without the guidance of the Scriptures, our Faith tends to be weak.    We grow in Faith as we act in Faith. Every gift of God is strengthened by the exercise of it. Someone has said, “Charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all.”

Let’s place the mustard seed of our faith in the hand of God and ask Him to help us move mountains of unforgiveness and disbelief in God, and thereby transform our lives for the glory of God.

Friday, September 13, 2019


OT XXIV [C] Ex 32:7-11, 13-14; I Tm 1:12-17; Lk 15:1-32

A divorced woman found herself struggling with an increasingly rebellious teenage daughter. It all came to a head late one night when the police called her to pick up her daughter who had been arrested for drunk driving.  The two of them didn’t speak on the way home or next day either, until at last the mother broke the tension by giving her daughter a small, gift-wrapped package.  The girl opened it with an air of indifference and found inside a small rock.  “Well, that’s cute, Mom.  What is it?” “Read the card, dear,” the mother replied.   As the girl did so, tears began to trickle down her cheeks, and she gave her mom a hug as the card fell to the floor.  On the card her mother had written: “This rock is more than 200 million years old.  That’s how long it’ll take before I give up on you.”  That’s what Jesus is telling us about God in today’s readings: He never gives up on us.

Today’s readings remind us that God actively seeks out the lost, wants their repentance and rejoices when the lost are found.
 Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel has been called “the Gospel within the Gospel,” because it is the distilled essence of the Good News about the mercy of our forgiving Heavenly Father. The whole chapter is essentially one distinct parable, the “Parable of the Lost and Found,” with three illustrations.  (We chose the optional shorter version). Loss, searching, finding, rejoicing, and sharing of the joy is the pattern in the first two parables. These parables remind us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins whenever they return to Him with genuine contrition and resolution.
The shepherds were famous for their dedicated, sacrificial service, perpetual vigilance, and readiness for action.  Hence, the shepherd was the national symbol of Divine Providence and self-sacrificing love in Israel. Two or three shepherds might be personally responsible for the sheep owned by several families in a village. If any sheep was missing, one of the shepherds would go in search of it, sending the other shepherds home with the flock. The whole village would be waiting for the return of the shepherd with the lost sheep and would receive him with shouts of joy and of thanksgiving.  That is the picture Jesus draws of God.  God is as glad when a lost sinner is found as a shepherd is when a strayed sheep is brought home.  Men may give up hope of reclaiming a sinner, but not so God.  
To err is human, but one requires courage to recognize the error and rise from it. To recognize our mistakes often we need the help of external agents. When David sinned against Uriah, he required the proclamation of Prophet Nathan to realize his mistake. When Israelites sinned they needed the intervention of Moses to make them realize their mistakes.

We can learn from our mistakes only if we are able to admit them. As soon as we start blaming other people we distance ourselves from any possible lesson. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit God called him. Adam put the blame on Eve, and Eve passed it on to the serpent. When Cain was asked, “Where is your brother?” he gave an elusive answer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It is our natural tendency to defend us.  But if we courageously stand up and honestly say, “This is my mistake,” there begins the possibility of change. Admission of a mistake, even if privately to oneself, makes a change possible. Realization of one’s own mistakes brings in the mercy of God. The prodigal son had to acknowledge his mistake before he could turn towards his father’s home.  This is what Jesus wants us to have in mind when we find ourselves lost, stuck in our sins, separated from him and from others.  He wants us to see him as our Savior, not as our punisher. Jesus came all the way from heaven to earth in order to rescue his lost sheep.

As forgiven prodigals, we must become forgiving people, for Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  We need to pray for God’s Divine mercy on all of us who have fallen away from God’s grace.  

Before we go to bed at night, let us make it a habit to examine our conscience and confess to God our sins and failures of the day, asking His pardon and forgiveness. Let us resolve to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we have fallen into serious sins. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God’s Divine mercy on all of us who have fallen away from God’s grace.  Let us open our eyes to see and ears to hear that Jesus is welcoming us back home!


Friday, September 6, 2019


OT XXIII [C] (Sept 8) Wis 9:13-18b; Phlm 9-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25–33

St. Thomas More was the Lord Chancellor, when Henry VIII was the King of England. More was a successful lawyer, a great linguist and a renowned spiritual and political writer. His book, Utopia, has become a classic. When he refused to take an oath supporting the Act of Succession, More was imprisoned in the Tower of London in the year 1534. Thomas More could not, with any honesty, approve Henry’s second marriage to Anne, and he could not acknowledge the King as the supreme head of the Church of England. His family implored him – for his sake and theirs – to take the oath. More’s beloved daughter, Margaret, took an oath to persuade him to do so, in order that the family might visit him in prison. With More’s wife and son-in-law, Margaret tried hard, but Thomas refused. He spent fifteen lonely months imprisoned in the Tower of London – in poor health, isolated from the other prisoners, deprived of his beloved books; not even paper and pen were given to him. Thomas More was convicted of treason, sentenced to death and, on July 6th, 1535, he was beheaded. On mounting the scaffold, Thomas More proclaimed that he was “the king’s good servant but God’s first.” St. Thomas More paid the price for his discipleship by loving God more than his wife, children, nay, even his life.
Today’s Gospel reminds us to count the cost of being a Christian because the cost is high. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus lays out four conditions for true Christian discipleship: i) renouncing the attachment to family by putting God first, before other relationships and self-interest; ii) severing the attachment to possessions by leading a detached life, willingly sharing our blessings with others; iii) accepting the hard consequences of discipleship which include offering daily sacrificial service to others and even losing one’s life for them. We must also be faithful in our stewardship, faithful in our worship attendance, faithful in our sexuality, honest in our business practices and we must show compassion for the less fortunate; iv) calculating the cost involved. Using the two parables of the tower-builder and the king defending his country, Jesus says: think long and hard about Christian discipleship before a decision is made.
Why was Jesus, who had been recommending that his followers love everybody –including their enemies–suddenly announcing that no one could be his disciple unless he hated his own family?  The word hate, as used in this case, “is Semitic exaggeration spoken for effect, and may reflect an idiom which means ‘love less than’ (Oxford Bible Commentary). Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.. (Mt 10:37-38).  Jesus is calling us to a commitment above all other commitments, including commitment to family. It involves a spiritual detachment, the ability to put God first, before other relationships and before self-interest. Without such detachment, one does not have the ability truly to follow Jesus. Jesus cannot just be a part of our life but the center.

Being Jesus’ disciple has never been convenient.  It is costly — costly in terms of money, time, relationships, and priorities. Just being an active Church member is not enough.    Jesus doesn’t want disciples who just “go along with the crowd.”    Jesus does not want a large number of “half-way” disciples who are willing to do a “little bit” of prayer, a “little bit” of commitment, a “little bit” of dedication, and a “little bit” of love. Jesus wants disciples who are truly committed to prayer, to discipleship and to being ruled by him as their king.  With a few such dedicated disciples, Jesus could change the world. 
According Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian, martyred by Hitler, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, Baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, and grace without Jesus….Cheap grace costs us nothing (in the short term). Costly grace costs us our life, but it is also the source of the only true and complete life.” “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing. “(Martin Luther).
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price for which the believer is willing to sell everything he/she has. Costly grace is the Gospel which must be lived and preached; it is the gift which must be asked for, the door at which every disciple must knock. Costly grace means following Jesus, aware of and prepared for the pitfalls of discipleship but still willing to meet them and manage them daily with his help.
We need to accept the challenge with heroic commitment. Jesus’ challenge of true Christian discipleship can be accepted only if we practice the spirit of detachment and renunciation in our daily lives. 

Let us remember that all this is possible only if we rely on the power of prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The challenge of discipleship is very high and we require divine assistance. Mother Teresa said, “If we have our Lord amid us, with daily Mass and Holy Communion, I fear nothing for the Sisters, nor myself; he will look after us. But without him I cannot be; I am helpless” (MFG, p. 26). All he needs is for us to do our sincere best and he'll take care of all the rest. So, let’s pray for his grace to be with us to be better Christians this week.



OT XXIII [C] (Sept 8) Wis 9:13-18b; Phlm 9-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25–33

St. Thomas More was the Lord Chancellor, when Henry VIII was the King of England. More was a successful lawyer, a great linguist and a renowned spiritual and political writer. His book, Utopia, has become a classic. When he refused to take an oath supporting the Act of Succession, More was imprisoned in the Tower of London in the year 1534. Thomas More could not, with any honesty, approve Henry’s second marriage to Anne, and he could not acknowledge the King as the supreme head of the Church of England. His family implored him – for his sake and theirs – to take the oath. More’s beloved daughter, Margaret, took an oath to persuade him to do so, in order that the family might visit him in prison. With More’s wife and son-in-law, Margaret tried hard, but Thomas refused. He spent fifteen lonely months imprisoned in the Tower of London – in poor health, isolated from the other prisoners, deprived of his beloved books; not even paper and pen were given to him. Thomas More was convicted of treason, sentenced to death and, on July 6th, 1535, he was beheaded. On mounting the scaffold, Thomas More proclaimed that he was “the king’s good servant but God’s first.” St. Thomas More paid the price for his discipleship by loving God more than his wife, children, nay, even his life.
Today’s Gospel reminds us to count the cost of being a Christian because the cost is high. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus lays out four conditions for true Christian discipleship: i) renouncing the attachment to family by putting God first, before other relationships and self-interest; ii) severing the attachment to possessions by leading a detached life, willingly sharing our blessings with others; iii) accepting the hard consequences of discipleship which include offering daily sacrificial service to others and even losing one’s life for them. We must also be faithful in our stewardship, faithful in our worship attendance, faithful in our sexuality, honest in our business practices and we must show compassion for the less fortunate; iv) calculating the cost involved. Using the two parables of the tower-builder and the king defending his country, Jesus says: think long and hard about Christian discipleship before a decision is made.
Why was Jesus, who had been recommending that his followers love everybody –including their enemies–suddenly announcing that no one could be his disciple unless he hated his own family?  The word hate, as used in this case, “is Semitic exaggeration spoken for effect, and may reflect an idiom which means ‘love less than’ (Oxford Bible Commentary). Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.. (Mt 10:37-38).  Jesus is calling us to a commitment above all other commitments, including commitment to family. It involves a spiritual detachment, the ability to put God first, before other relationships and before self-interest. Without such detachment, one does not have the ability truly to follow Jesus. Jesus cannot just be a part of our life but the center.

Being Jesus’ disciple has never been convenient.  It is costly — costly in terms of money, time, relationships, and priorities. Just being an active Church member is not enough.    Jesus doesn’t want disciples who just “go along with the crowd.”    Jesus does not want a large number of “half-way” disciples who are willing to do a “little bit” of prayer, a “little bit” of commitment, a “little bit” of dedication, and a “little bit” of love. Jesus wants disciples who are truly committed to prayer, to discipleship and to being ruled by him as their king.  With a few such dedicated disciples, Jesus could change the world. 
According Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian, martyred by Hitler, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, Baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, and grace without Jesus….Cheap grace costs us nothing (in the short term). Costly grace costs us our life, but it is also the source of the only true and complete life.” “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing. “(Martin Luther).
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price for which the believer is willing to sell everything he/she has. Costly grace is the Gospel which must be lived and preached; it is the gift which must be asked for, the door at which every disciple must knock. Costly grace means following Jesus, aware of and prepared for the pitfalls of discipleship but still willing to meet them and manage them daily with his help.
We need to accept the challenge with heroic commitment. Jesus’ challenge of true Christian discipleship can be accepted only if we practice the spirit of detachment and renunciation in our daily lives. 

Let us remember that all this is possible only if we rely on the power of prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The challenge of discipleship is very high and we require divine assistance. Mother Teresa said, “If we have our Lord amid us, with daily Mass and Holy Communion, I fear nothing for the Sisters, nor myself; he will look after us. But without him I cannot be; I am helpless” (MFG, p. 26). All he needs is for us to do our sincere best and he'll take care of all the rest. So, let’s pray for his grace to be with us to be better Christians this week.


Friday, August 23, 2019


OT XXI [C] Is 66:18-21, Heb 12:5-7, 11-13; Lk 13:22-30

Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen tells us that we will have three surprises in Heaven. The first surprise: We will be surprised to see that many people we expected to be in Heaven are not there. The second surprise: We will be surprised to see that the people we never expected to be in Heaven are there. The third surprise: We will be surprised to see that we are in Heaven! In today’s Gospel, Jesus answers the question, as to how many will be saved, by answering how to enter into salvation and how urgent it is to strive now, before the Master closes the door. Jesus clearly explains that anyone who follows him through the narrow gate of sacrificial serving and sharing love will be saved. Jesus also admonishes his followers to concentrate on their own salvation instead of worrying about the salvation of others.

When the questioner asked Jesus “How many will be saved?” he was assuming that the salvation of God’s Chosen People was virtually guaranteed, provided they kept the Law. In other words, the Kingdom of God was reserved for the Jews alone, and Gentiles would be shut out.  
Hence, Jesus’ answer must have come as a shock. Jesus affirms that God wants all persons to enjoy eternal life with Him. But he stresses the need for constant fidelity and vigilance throughout our lives. Thus, Jesus reminds us that, even though God wants all of us to be saved, we all need to work at it. Entry into God’s kingdom is not automatically granted, based purely on religious Faith or nationality.
How many will be saved in the end is a decision that rests with God and depends His Justice which includes His Mercy.  Jesus came to bring God’s love and freedom to the whole world. The message of his Gospel is that there is not a single person, people, nation, race, or class, which will be excluded from experiencing the love and liberation that God offers. Hence, the role of the Christian community, from the beginning until now has been, first and foremost, to proclaim to the whole world the Good News of God’s love for the world, and then to show this Good News to be real, reflected in the loving, sharing and serving lives of individual Christians.

Eternal salvation is the result of a struggle: “keep on striving to enter.”It is like the effort one would make in swimming against the current in a river.  A man must ever be going forward or else he will go backward.   We must enter through the “narrow gate” of sacrificial and selfless service.
Entering through the narrow gate denotes a steady obedience to the Lord Jesus — overcoming all opposition and rejecting every temptation.  It is the narrow way of unconditional and unremitting love. Mere faith in Jesus and membership in His Church by Baptism cannot guarantee salvation.  Some of the Fathers of the Church interpreted the narrow door as that small place in the heart where one says “yes” or “no” to what one knows to be true.  It is the one place through which no external force can enter to shape or coerce one’s choices.
“Being saved’ is the end-result – seeing God face to face in Heaven. Jesus explains that Salvation begins with Faith.  But it is also the result of how that Faith is lived.  We cannot “earn” our way into Heaven by good works, but we also believe that we must allow God to work in our lives through His grace, a grace that is reflected in our actions.

Hence, our answer to the question: “Have you been saved?” should be: “I have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ’s death and Resurrection.  I am being saved from the power of sin by the indwelling Spirit of God.  I have the hope that I shall one day be saved from the very presence of sin when I go to be with God.”  Therefore, the Catholic faith is not like that of some Evangelicals who believe, once you receive baptism in faith you are saved for ever; you cannot lose your salvation.  This is not what the Bible teaches in today’s gospel.
We need to make wise decisions and choose the narrow gate.  God allows us to decide every day what road we will walk down and what gate we will choose.  He encourages us, however, to choose His way:  “Choose life” (Moses – Dt 30:19-20); “There are two paths: one of life and one of death, and the difference between the two is great.”(Didache);   “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” Says Jesus (Lk 9:23).   This means a consistent denial of self and the steady relinquishing of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests. 

The “narrow road” or “narrow gate” concerns our everyday—pursuing the Kingdom and God’s justice instead of fame and fortune; and it involves not condemning others. It involves repentance, obedience, humility, righteousness, truth and discipleship.  Hence, let’s strive to enter through the “narrow gate” by prayer and supplication, diligently seeking deliverance from those things which would bar our entrance, and acquiring those things which would facilitate our entry.


Friday, August 16, 2019


OT XX [C] Jer 38:4-6, 8-10; Heb 12:1-4; Lk 12: 49-53

Some time ago a newspaper columnist, Arthur Jones, shared an important moment in his earlier life with his readers. It happened when he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and found himself in military barracks with 30 other men. On the first night he had to make a decision. He had always knelt to say his prayers. Should he continue to kneel now that he was in military service? He squirmed a little and then said to himself: “Why should I change just because people are watching?  Am I going to begin my life away from home by letting other people dictate what I should do or not do?” He decided to kneel. By the time he had finished, he became aware that everyone else was aware of him. And when he made the Sign of the Cross, he was aware that everyone else knew he was a Catholic. As it turned out, he was the only Catholic in the barracks. Yet, night after night he knelt. He said that those ten minutes on his knees often led to discussions that lasted for hours. On the last day in boot camp, someone said to him, “You are the finest Christian I’ve ever met.” He replied, “Well, I might be the most public Christian you’ve ever met, but I don’t think I’m the finest. Still, I thank you for what you said.” – That story illustrates one of the points of today’s Gospel. Commitment to Jesus means taking a stand on certain things. And sometimes that stand sets us in opposition to other people. 

In the First Reading, we heard how Jeremiah was mistreated by the king and his officials for speaking the Word of God. They threw him into a deep, muddy cistern to die for his audacity to preach that the Lord God said that the king had to surrender to the mighty army of Babylonian empire to save Israel.  They considered it a “treason” and punished him.

The message that Jesus brought caused conflict between people who stood for truth and people who resisted it; conflict between people who accepted good and people who sided with evil; conflict between people who cherished love and people who spread hatred. So Jesus spoke to the crowd, "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! This division was all the more evident in the early Christian community. And this division exists even today. There is the conflict between good and evil. There is the conflict between people who keep the commands of the Lord and people who disregard them. There is the conflict between people who respect the rights of others and the people who ignore them. There is the conflict between the people who keep the precepts of the church and the people who vehemently oppose them.
If no one is ever offended by the quality of our commitment to Christ, that commitment may not be authentic, and if our individual and communal living of the Good News casts no fire and causes no division, then perhaps we are practicing “inoffensive Christianity.”

As Jesus walked the road to Jerusalem, the disciples had to decide whether to go with him or not. To be with or against Jesus is a decision which has the effect of judgment and division. Even though Christ did come to establish peace between God and man, that peace causes a division between those who accept it and those who reject it. In this way he becomes a sign of contradiction, as Simeon who took the baby Jesus in his arms in the temple and foretold: This child will be cause of rise and fall of many, meaning he will bring division.

Christianity tore families in two, because a follower of Christ had to decide which he loved better — his kith and kin or Christ. In Christianity, the loyalty to Christ has to take precedence over the dearest loyalties of this earth. Belief in Jesus and commitment to him cause fires of arguments to erupt between believers and non-believers in the same family or community, resulting in the division of families and conflict in society. Standing up for what is right, working for justice and truth are higher aims than unity, and working for those aims will sometimes cause division. Hence, Christians today may cause division and rouse opposition because they share, through their Baptism, the prophetic charism of speaking God’s word, no matter how unpopular, and of giving a voice to those who have no one to speak for them. Let us remember that Jesus’ sense of justice brought him into conflict with those who exploited the weak and the poor. His integrity invited confrontation with the dishonest and hypocritical leaders, and his love for the poor, for sinners and for the outcast alienated him from the narrow-minded and self-righteous. C.S. Lewis once said that the Gospel was concerned to create “new people” not just “nice people.”

The Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles, writing about the role of prophecy in the modern Church communities in his book, Models of the Church, remarks: “Christianity is not healthy unless there is room in it for prophetic protest against abuses of authority.” God continues to send such prophets to every parish community, and it is the duty of the bishop, pastor and parish council to listen to the well-intended and constructive criticisms of prophets like Jeremiah.

Every day, we are called to make choices, decisions as to which way we will go that day. Sometimes, those decisions are costly, in terms of money, or family, or friendships. If our destination is important to us, we make the correct choice. Not every time, perhaps. But often enough. May God give us wisdom and courage to make those choices in the days ahead.